Harlem Rennaisance comes to South Beach with SGA and English Department

“Art Student” painted by Laura Wheeler c.1940| Allyson Ifergan, PantherNOW

Allyson Ifergan | Contributing Writer

Students made their way to South Beach on March 30 for a night of dancing, poetry and jazz with the Wolfsonian Museum celebrating the Harlem Renaissance. 

The event was put on by the SGA and Wolfsonian Museum, along with the English Graduate Student Organization, to celebrate voices from the Harlem Renaissance and bring attention to the museum hosting “Silhouettes”, an exhibition featuring art from that period.

SGA President Alex Sutton saw that many students might not be aware of all the Wolfsonian offers and wanted to highlight the culture with an evening out for students.

“That’s kind of what this event is about…bringing more students here to the Wolfsonian so that they know it exists and they can come more often even when a special event like this isn’t going on,” SGA President Alex Sutton said. 

Walking into the event, students were able to participate in a photo booth, prize raffle, sip mocktails, and grab free merch from the English Graduate Organization.

Elderberry Mocktail | Allyson Ifergan, PantherNOW

The 1920’s themed ambiance was brought to life by a live Jazz Quintet made up of FIU’s School of Music students along with a variety of Harlem Renaissance jazz curated by a DJ from WRGP, The Roar, FIU’s student radio station. 

FIU School of Music Students Playing Swing Music | Allyson Ifergan, PantherNOW

Among other live performances, the EGO held poetry readings on the seventh floor by the Silhouettes: Image and World in the Harlem Renaissance exhibit.  

Silhouettes: Image and World in the Harlem Renaissance exhibit | Allyson Ifergan, PantherNOW

“We got everything from poetry to actual essays– which was really cool and refreshing,” EGO Vice President Nicholas Cabezas said. 

On the third floor of the museum students were welcomed to explore some of the archives of the Harlem Renaissance in a library open house. 

Chief Librarian and Curator of Library Materials at FIU, Francis Luca, presented music sheets, propaganda posters, editorials and more to students based on their majors and interests. 

Francis Lucca Presenting Materials to Students| Allyson Ifergan, PantherNOW

Luca spoke to students about a variety of art from the early 20th century at the Wolfsonian, spanning mediums and going in-depth with history. 

In discussing one poem by Langston Hughes, he shared how the Communist Party published it as part of a recruiting effort to get more African American members.

“They reprinted some of his poetry but also set the context for it by saying it was ironic that his poetry was being recited by some famous person in some hotel where it was whites only,” Luca explained. 

“Yet he was in the room because he was bussing tables, even as his poetry was being read to this white audience.” 

Students were also treated to mounds of pizza and some “speakeasy snacks” as they created their own art on sticky notes for the walls. 

Sticky Note Collage Created by Students| Allyson Ifergan, PantherNOW

“The overall energy of the event was amazing. I think that was due in no small part to the fact that everybody was dressed up,” Cabezas said.

At the end of the night, students gathered in the lobby and spontaneously danced to some swing music put on by the DJ. It didn’t take long for a crowd to form on the floor and students to dance the evening out. 

Students Dancing to Swing Music | Allyson Ifergan, PantherNOW

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