The Quad Cities Urban Art Expo is being held April 14th at the Sheffield Recreation Center in Sheffield, Alabama. The expo will feature locally submitted art, from prints and canvases to graffiti and tattoos, music and oral presentations. Food and other vendors will be on site for the event, with some featuring unique merchandise from various artists.
“This has come out of this unique partnership between folks in the community, the sociology and art departments at the University of North Alabama and the ‘Sociology of Hip Hop Culture’ class that I teach in the spring,” said Andrea Hunt, assistant professor in sociology.
Hunt, along with her colleague Parkerson Seward — assistant professor of art at UNA — and current student and founder of 2 Peace Production and Events, Wendy Snitzer, talked with local artists in the Shoals community, spreading the word about starting a new, annual event for all types of artists.
“We talked about street art in the area and how it was growing,” Hunt said. “After seeing it grow in popularity, we thought ‘what if there was an art expo that really showcases street art as a legitimate form of art rather than something we think only belongs out on the street?’”
The group is bringing together the usual painters, sculptors, musicians, poets and speakers, as expected at these types of events, while also bringing graffiti artists, tattoo artists, rappers and more. They plan to have a diverse selection of artists to view, including work perceived as criminalized in hopes to bring more culture and understanding to the area, Snitzer said.
“It’s like you’re putting a big hug around artists,” Snitzer said. “We’re trying to create a warm and inviting culmination of cultural arts and events to share and educate the community while creating an even platform for artists.”
Along with local community member submissions, Hunt and Snitzer have reached out to children in schools, at-risk youth and individuals in jail, allowing them the opportunity to be a part of the event.
“Even Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray allowed inmates to create art with material donations from Dollar General,” Snitzer said. “We’re not excluding anyone.”
“The idea is everybody can take part in art and it is a way for people to express emotion, tell their story and tell the story of others,” Hunt said. “We want to give everybody a voice.”
The event will feature many booths set up by different types of artist, showing off their skill and work.
Along with raising awareness for local artists, the expo will feature live entertainment from local artists and a raffle drawing.
Free entry will be granted to anyone with a food/toy donation for the Colbert County Animal Shelter, for Northwest-Shoals Community College or UNA students, or if you are under 10 years of age.
The expo will also be hosting a live discussion with Hunt, Seward and Phil Jackson, a notable rapper based in Huntsville, Alabama.
“This is about art, music, culture, paintings, art, graphics and tattoos,” Snitzer said. “This is about a fun day where you’re going to eat, listen to fire music and meet a lot of local artists.”