Coming Back Together and celebrating Black excellence through art

Coming Back Together and celebrating Black excellence through art

SU Amuni Keith Brown and London Ladd show their work as a part of the Coming Back Together event.
Published: September 14, 2021
"Capturing the Essence and Strength of Beauty" exhibition of Keith Brown's artwork.

This weekend, the campus community commemorated Coming Back Together 2021 with the theme of “Celebrating 151 Years of Black and Latino/a Excellence at SU.” The Community Folk Art Center’s  “Capturing the Essence of Beauty and Strength” exhibition featuring the artwork of Keith Brown and the “Alumni Mural Project” by London Ladd.

Brown graduated from Syracuse University undergrad in 1982 and is currently the executive vice president of content for Firelight Films. He returned to art three years ago, inspired by his 8-year-old daughter who challenged him to pick up the paintbrush again. His artwork is influenced by his work as a journalist, his travels in Africa, his experiences as a father and a Black man in America.

Brown showcases beauty and strength through his acrylic portraiture. Each figure connects with the viewer, expressing power, wisdom and strength through their gaze. Brown’s style is vibrant. Quick brushstrokes add texture and dimension to his works. His dark colors are rich, making his vibrant pops of color stand out on his dynamic figures.

The atmosphere in the gallery is one of calm and strength. R&B and soul music playing adds to the experience of the art. Dr. Tanisha Jackson writes in her curator’s statement how Brown’s work uses specific artistic expression.

“Black brotherhood, scenic travel destinations, and the celebration of Black femininity are a few notable motifs in Brown’s portraits that collectively demand our respect and admiration,” she writes. “The women and men in his portraits call for us to see them.”

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Keith Brown, "Bride in Blue" (2020).

The “Alumni Mural Project” was in the black box theater at CFAC over the weekend. Led by artist, professor and fellow SU alum, London Ladd. He created three digital portraits representing the past, present, and future of Syracuse campus. Hanging on the wall next to each mural was a prompt. Visitors responded to the prompts on the wide borders of each mural.


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Ladd's mural featured bright colors washing over some of the great football players of Syracuse past.

The Past is a stylized, color-blocking depiction of eight football players and asks visitors to respond to, “Tell us about a favorite memory or significant experience(s) you had as an SU student.” Alumni recalled the friendships and lessons they learned on SU campus.

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Visitors reflected on how proud they were of how far SU has come on the borders of "The Present" mural.

The Present depicts a tree on a hill with the sun shining on the campus skyline in the distance. Visitors responded to, “Reflecting on the present, tell us how you currently feel about your alma mater. What are you most proud of? What changes would you like to see take place?” Alumni reflected on the campus that continues to evolve.

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Kaia Kirk and Ana Jones writing their aspirations for the future of SU campus on London Ladd's artwork.

The Future depicts a woman surrounded by vibrant colors and a butterfly. The prompt read, “What messages would you like to leave to current and future SU students?” Visitors left positive affirmations and encouraging words on the mural. Political science Ph.D. students Kaia Kirk and Ana Jones left words of reassurance, “never doubt yourself” and “take it all in.”

The three murals will be shown around campus with one of the locations being CFAC.