Sam Cooke in Collage

The following piece by Archer Benedict ’22 was created for one of Blair’s inaugural J-term courses, Exploring the Black Experience through the Arts. The course, designed and co-taught by math teacher Mr. Padden and art teacher Mr. Thomas, posed the question, asked originally by American singer-songwriter and civil rights activist Nina Simone, “How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?”

Students explored a sampler of innovative and exemplary music, poetry, film, and visual art by Black creatives. The course focused on the “danger of a single story” (check out Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s powerful TedTalk of the same name, especially if you haven’t seen it before) and amplified work that arose as a response to racial oppression and violence in the United States as well as how Black art was and is, as Mr. Thomas put it, a “vehicle for universal human experiences” and “an expression of Black love, joy, and power.” For their final project, students analyzed an artist, art movement, or work of art inspired by what they learned over the course of the class via the format of their choosing.

Archer created a digital collage to demonstrate his appreciation for Sam Cooke, an influential black musician and performer during the Jim Crow era, and The Oracle is excited to share his work with you here!

(Copyright Archer Benedict 2021)

Archer Benedict

Archer is a junior at Blair Academy.