Artist collaboration discusses Black Lives Matter


Jason Hardimon

Co-founders of “Black Lunch Table” Jina Valentine and Heather Hart decide where to seat guests Tuesdday at the Tarble Arts Tables. “Our goal is to encourage a space of discussion across demographics,” Hart said.

Zaria Greene, Contributing Writer


A collaboration of artists called “The Black Lunch Table” came to Eastern Tuesday to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement with students and others on campus. This discussion took place on the new sculpture in front of the Tarble Arts Center.

The Black Lunch Table is a collection of artists that started traveling to different cities such as New York, Chicago and Houston after the deaths of Eric Garner and Mike Brown, two unarmed black men who were shot by police officers. The organization is called “The Black Lunch Table” because of the significance of conversations at lunch tables and porches in the black community.

Heather Hart, an artist from Brooklyn, was asked to build the new wooden porch sculpture at the Tarble. She then decided to have a discussion with another artist, Jina Valentine.

Hart and Valentine have been doing these “Talkbacks” for eleven years now. Hart said she wants to encourage a thoughtful space for discussion about people’s dispositions.

Even through the evening’s topic of discussion, which was The Black Lives Matter movement, this was meant for a diverse audience of all races, ages and occupations. Hart and Valentine had people register before the event and fill out a form with their information on it such as their race and occupation.

They then used the forms to place them at different discussion tables to make them more diverse. Once the discussion started, an envelope was placed on the table with different discussion-starting prompts. Some topics included historical legacies, the war on drugs, gentrification and the cutting of arts and music programs in schools. For the next hour there were many ideas, perspectives and even laughter shared among the different tables.

Joe Nivens, a graduate student studying 3-D studio art, said he received a lot of encouragement from his art teachers to check out the different events Tarble offers. He supports the Black Lives Matters movement but said he still wanted to familiarize himself with different aspects of it. One topic that stood out to him was the talk his table had about art programs being cut at schools, because he has come close to experiencing that at Eastern because of budget cuts.

Courtny Chattman, also a graduate student, said a topic that really stood out to her at her table was gentrification, or displacement of minority communities. What impacted her was the raw and intimate perspective on things she got from other people on topics like race.  Chattman said she will process this new information long after the event ends and that this is a discussion to happen more often.


Zaria Greene can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].