Islip Arts Council highlights Black creatives

‘Black Creativity: Family Stories Exhibition’


By holding “Black Creativity: Family Stories Exhibition” at the Islip Arts Council gallery, the arts council created a space for Black creatives to be exclusively featured and celebrated.

In honor of Black History Month, Islip Arts Council invited Black artists to explore and share their worlds of culture, family, and expression by uplifting their voices through all forms of art. The art displayed told the unique stories of the 16 featured artists’ family heritage, personal challenges, and triumphs.

The exhibit is open from Feb. 6 through 29 at IAC Gallery in the Bay Shore Mall.

Karim Chambers leaned into the “Family Stories” theme when crafting his captivating paintings. “Sanctuary,” created from acrylic and spray paint on canvas, depicts a brawny man standing in front of his wife and two children.

“The main thing I wanted to show was a positive depiction of a Black family, because there are so many out there,” explained Chambers. “The man is depicted as a protector, and he is shielding her from the outside world.”

While he was always an artist, former NBA player Neil Edwards stepped away from art for many years to embrace his athletic career. After picking up the paintbrush again, Edwards used his art to express the personal challenges and adversity he has faced and overcome. His incredibly detailed painting “Race” depicts a Black man running in a race through a crime-ridden urban area, with police officers standing in the middle of the race with guns drawn.

“As an African American man, I grew up in rougher neighborhoods, and it took a lot more for me to, proverbially ‘make it out.’ These areas are not really designed for you to be successful,” explained Edwards. “You have to overcome a lot of mental and physical challenges to make it to where you want to get to. Instead of the finish line, it is a ‘do not cross’ police tape line, basically signifying how hard it is to make it out. You can make it out one way or another—a casket, or success.”

The significance of the exhibition was not lost on Ki Nichole, who has been an artist for over 10 years, and has struggled to have her art embraced and properly appreciated. 

“It was really hard for me to find locations where my type of artwork shined, and have a community that would accept my work. It is not always accepted in certain areas and galleries,” explained Nichole. “My art is based in spirituality, Black spirituality, and also encompassing Black women, children, and different figures that resemble ethnic people. For Islip Arts Council to have this event for Black History Month, and have this platform to highlight Black creatives, it is really a blessing.”

Islip Arts Council is also hosting another exhibition in honor of Black History Month entitled “In Living Color,” held on the second-floor mezzanine of the Cohalan Courthouse in Central Islip. The display is up for the whole month of February and is open for viewing to the public.

For more information on either exhibit, visit


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