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Black Scranton Project focusing on art, wellness for Black History Month

Rashida S. Wears earrings that read "Black History Month" to the Black Scranton Project's Black History Month Kickoff.
AIMEE DILGER
/
WVIA News
Rashida S. wears earrings that read "Black History Month" to the Black Scranton Project's Black History Month kickoff.

Standing far away from one of Sunday Olanyi’s portraits, you might think it’s a painting.

Get closer, and you’ll notice that each one is composed of hundreds of small beads.

“Beads have been my favorite medium because I’ve been trying to communicate a particular message with my work,” Olanyi said. “Which is the message of patience, tenacity, perseverance.”

Two of Olanyi’s portraits are hanging at the Black Scranton Project on North Main Avenue for Black History Month. The artwork is illuminated by brand new lights installed with the help of students from Johnson College.

Evelyn Guzman photographs art made by Sunday Olanyi.
Aimee Dilger
/
WVIA News
Evelyn Guzman photographs art made by Sunday Olanyi.

Glynis Johns, founder and CEO of Black Scranton Project, unveiled this year’s local Black history exhibit on Saturday. She has curated one every year since moving into the former bank building.

“When I first saw this space, I already envisioned it like this, I knew I wanted to have exhibits here and I knew I wanted to have a lot of people here,” she said. “I didn’t know people would love it as much as they do, so that drives me and makes me want to get this space ready for more people to be here more often.”

Along with the exhibit, the Black Scranton Project’s month of events will include an open mic night, a short film festival and a wellness party.

Johns said she has started to focus on wellness more this year and hopes to share that focus with the community.

“I noticed that there isn’t that many local resources that cater to Black and Brown folks and understand that the things that we go through are not always the same as other people,” she said. “I wanted to know what resources were available…and if not, how can we supplement that.”

When Olayni moved to Scranton from Nigeria, the Black Scranton Project was the first place he displayed his artwork. Johns counts him among the “family” of artists who have made the Black Scranton Project what it is today.

“I knew in 2018 that I wanted to have my own Black art exhibition,” she said. “Once I did that, I started to see how it amplified their work and their confidence but also made our community tighter.”

To find this year’s Black History Month events, go to blackscranton.org.

Teryn Jefferson 6, Colors enlarged coloring pages from a wellness coloring book made by Tess Armstrong of Scranton.
Aimee Dilger
/
WVIA News
Teryn Jefferson, 6, colors enlarged coloring pages from a wellness coloring book made by Tess Armstrong of Scranton.

Sarah Scinto is the local host of Morning Edition on WVIA. She is a Connecticut native and graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and has previously covered Northeastern Pennsylvania for The Scranton Times-Tribune, The Citizens’ Voice and Greater Pittston Progress.

You can email Sarah at sarahscinto@wvia.org