UNO student uses art to embrace her identity as a Black, Queer student

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Hannah Michelle Bussa
CONTRIBUTOR

Artwork by UNO student Tateyna Jones, currently available for purchase.

Tateyna Jones is a student at UNO who has been an artist for most of her life. She is in the last year of her program, studying studio art with a concentration in 2D arts.

“I got started as an artist when I was a child,” Jones says. “My grandmother was a very talented artist, so she definitely influenced me. I did my first painting of her when I was five.”

Jones uses oil and acrylic paints to tell her message.

“My goal when it comes to my art is really to just have it speak to people,” Jones said. “I want individuals to be able to make their own conclusions and assumptions when looking at my artwork. I like the viewer to make their own conclusions about the message. I love hearing what others see in my vision!”

Jones also uses her artwork to embrace her identity as a Black and queer student.

“Art has always been a very therapeutic thing for me,” she says. “It has helped me through a lot of tough times in my life, and I’m able to express myself through art as well.”

Jones is involved with Black Excellence on campus, a support, resource and advocate group for Black students at UNO.

“Black Excellence has been a great support for me,” Jones said. “I have done some artwork for them, but in general, it makes me feel as though I have a place that I can feel safe on campus. It is nice to know that I have the support if I need it and I have made some great friends. It is also nice to have a group to study with as well.

About being a Black, queer artist and student, she says: “Being a Black queer person in Omaha, my experience has been a little rough. There are not many spaces where I feel accepted or welcomed. Sometimes I feel I have to choose between the Black community and the queer community, but each has its own issue. So, it is hard finding a space to feel comfortable.”

To help other students who may also struggle in finding a place to feel comfortable, Jones started Melanated Queerations through UNO.

“Melanated Queerations is a group my best friend and I started for LGBT people of color, because we felt there wasn’t a safe space for people like us on campus,” Jones says. “So, we decided to create one. It is a space where queer people of color can come together and feel safe and supported. We also try to help with resources if there are issues. It is very precious to me because I want everyone to have a place where they feel safe.”

Melanated Queerations is a group for the UNO community, who currently meet on Zoom every Tuesday at noon.

“We leave the space open for people to speak about anything they feel they might not be able to in other spaces,” Jones says. “The advisors are also there to offer advice and resources. We also plan get-togethers.”

For questions about Melanated Queerations, you can call 402-554-2248.

For more information about Black Excellence, you can find them on Facebook and Instagram (@bsu_uno).

You can find Tateyna Jones and support her artwork on social media @tajxart.

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