The midground for UB artists

Students gather in SU Theatre to unify art culture through music, painting and more

The Spectrum

On Wednesday night, UB student-artists gathered in the Student Union Theatre to prove that their biggest supporters are one another.

The Midoriginal Showcase brought together students of different artistic backgrounds so they could perform in front of their fellow classmates. The event featured artists ranging from beat-boxers to poets and painters to singers.

Two months ago, Osei "Mido" Mbhaso, a sophomore sociology major, came up with the idea of a setting for students to assemble their artistic talents and show them to the rest of UB.

"UB's art culture, to me, was segmented," Mbhaso said. "That's why I wanted to unify it."

Esther "Hadassah" Branch, a junior political science major, performed two of her own songs at the eclectic showcase. The neo-soul and jazz artist earned applause and cheers.

Her first song, "Rose and Set," was written for her sick mother, whom she is afraid of losing one day. The song was mirrored with lyrical and contemporary choreography performed by Christiana Buckley, a freshman dance and exercise science major.

After suffering a double back fracture in April, Buckley was physically and emotionally traumatized. She described the Midoriginal Showcase as a "groundbreaking experience," and it was the first time she had performed in months.

Buckley's emotional performance combined with Branch's soulful song drew positive feedback and was one of the crowd's favorites.

"It was a fabulous idea to unite serious-minded, passionate performers," Buckley said. "They are the next generation of talented artists."

Mbhaso brought his vision to reality with the help of his friends, who gave him advice on how to go about the talent showcase. They also helped him with networking and finding acts for the show.

An audition was held, but because the event did not have much notability around campus, the coordinators had to rely on their network of artists and go out to search for performers.

Creative Director Donald Kelly, a senior sociology major, helped Mbhaso coordinate the event and solidify his idea.

The showcase was to "help unify the UB community under one common interest - the love of art," Kelly said. The objective was for everyone to attend and appreciate art while enjoying a fun show.

Kelly introduced Alana Barricks, a senior political science major, to the showcase.

Barricks started off the night with her graffiti skills, spray-painting an edgy visual of the "Midoriginal" title onstage.

Before the show began, Barricks also displayed her abstract and psychedelic art styles with pieces outside of the theater. The brightly colored and heavily patterned paintings drew vast attention.

"Lots of clubs have showcases featuring dancing and singing," Barricks said. "The fact that this incorporated visual art as well definitely took it a step further."

Antoine "ProducedByJugo" Fisher Jr., a UB alumnus, was tabling outside of the venue prior to the showcase's beginning.

Fisher shared the music he produces, attracting attendees with his beats blaring from speakers.

Fisher described the Midoriginal Showcase as "a diversity of performers," and said, "it's a great thing because UB's a diversified university."

Cletus Emokpae, a sophomore occupational science major, used the platform as a time to sell homemade t-shirts and bowties that he designed.

His collaborative clothing line, "Sweet and Blessed Life," combines the designs of three individuals. The brand name represents that although someone is living the "sweet" life - striving for the finer things - it doesn't mean the person has to compromise his or her faith and beliefs, Emokpae said.

He was also one of the three hosts at the event and, though he had never taken on a hosting gig before,the Midoriginal Showcase gave him the opportunity to do something he had always wanted to do, he said.

"Shows never go as planned, but it is what motivates you to be better," Emokpae said.

Mbhaso plans on bringing the Midoriginal Showcase back to UB annually so more artists can have the chance to show the community their talents.

The show also contained other types of art, such as rap, spoken word and gospel.

Courtney Brown, a sophomore mathematics major, enjoyed the freestyle raps the most.

He said, overall, all of the artists had great performances and there were different vibes from each of them, giving the showcase a wide variety.

"It was our first event thrown and it won't be the last," Kelly said. "This just set the bar for us, so the next showcase has to be bigger, better and just overall smoother."