Black Space Black Art

Thursday, September 1 to Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Black Space Black Art is an artists collective started by Natasha Ria El-Scari, owner of the Natasha Ria Art Gallery. The collective matches African American artists to local businesses, in order to broaden the exposure of the artists and the artwork and introduce it within the community. The collective’s artwork will be on display at the Lenexa City Center branch until December 21, 2022.


Introduce yourself and tell us about Black Space Black Art and what inspired you to create it?

My name is Natasha Ria El-Scari and I am an author, poet and performer. I have been immersed in visual art my entire life through both sides of my family. I grew up loving and enjoying all aspects of art. I started Black Space Black Art in 2018 so that I could provide changing art galleries for a collective of African American artists of all genders, ages, education and styles. I also wanted the African American community to participate by purchasing art that was based in our aesthetic. My first partners were black owned barbershops and beauty salons because black people of all classes go to these businesses and they truly are changing galleries in their own rite.


Tell us a little about the artists you have chosen for exhibit at the Johnson County Library?

I've chosen Adrianne Clayton, Vivian Wilson Bluett and Warren Harvey because they are the active and founding members of BSBA. More than that, each of them embody styles that speak to similar themes but execute it differently.


How have artists and business owners responded? 

The collective originally had 6 founding members and two others joined and left rather quickly, but the core has remained. Since I truly believe in collectives, I wanted to see visual arts work grow from each other's strengths. I do believe sometimes I present wild ideas but when they are executed collectively the trust builds. As far as businesses go, we have had great responses from black owned and like-minded businesses hungry to have black art in their space and excited to see it move once it is sold. Our business partners operate in integrity and we love working in different spaces. 


Portrait of a woman dressed in white standing in a sunflower field.


What has been the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is making sure the art is moving around if it is not selling. We always want to make sure it is growing. Usually it's just around scheduling since all of us are going in different directions. The challenges are minimal because we take the collective approach and that always works best to me.


How has Black Space Black Art evolved since it’s beginning?

I believe the artists have grown to understand their audiences but also listening more to their artistic freedom and expression. Creating hundreds of pieces a year can only build confidence when they sell. So this confidence has provided greater and more visible opportunities.


What books, movies and/or music have inspired you recently?

I rarely watch movies or any television at all, but I taught If Beale Street Could Talk last semester as an adjunct, and I absolutely love everything about the movie and book. It speaks deeply to black love, black pain but most importantly black hope.