Wasatch Wynter Storm Watch: The Power Of The Utah Black Artists Collective
Activism, Outreach and Education
Art is a powerful force—as a poet, it saved Wynter Storm’s life. Now, after creating Utah Black Artists Collective (UBLAC) alongside Jayrod Garrett, Storm shares that same power of art with all of Salt Lake. “UBLAC is our baby,” Storm says. “UBLAC is my heart.”
Founded in July 2020, UBLAC seeks to offer space for Black creatives in Utah to connect and grow. The collective now boasts over 30 professional artists ranging between musicians, dancers, writers, visual artists and more. “That was wild to me—we’ve created such a community,” Storm says. “I always say … the picture is bigger than me. I had no idea how much bigger the picture was than what I initially wanted to do.”
Just how big does the picture get? If you’re Storm, it looks like bridging the gaps between communities in Utah by continuously reaching out. UBLAC isn’t just a place of refuge—it’s a way for all communities to connect with the Black artists that haven’t been given a platform. “We hope to change the face of art in Utah, especially how people see Black art,” Storm says.
The mostly white atmosphere of Utah has affected Storm both as an artist and an individual. While Storm’s accomplishments are impressive—her finalist list is no joke—the work that had to be put into those feats often involved blood, sweat and tears. “Unfortunately, I’ve had to work a little bit harder,” Storm says. “Sometimes, you can tell that you’ve already gotten a score when you walk on stage, even before you open your mouth.”
“We hope to change the face of art in Utah, especially how people see Black art.”
Preconceived notions didn’t stop Storm. In fact, they pushed her to “dig even deeper” and keep building pathways. “It always goes back to the community,” Storm says. “I’m so grateful to say [that] … as an organization, we have been welcomed with open arms. That says a lot because of course you get a little bit nervous—you’re starting an all-Black collective in Utah!”
Storm’s right—community is at the center of what UBLAC does, and the Youth Mentorship Program exemplifies that goal. Aspiring young artists of color are matched with UBLAC professionals to grow their talent, and it’s a program that’s near and dear to Storm. “When I didn’t feel like I had anywhere else to turn to, I turned to poetry, and sometimes that’s all we have,” Storms says. “I always hope to be that light in someone else’s life.”
Establishing the Youth Mentorship Program was a high priority for both Storm and Co-Founder Garrett. Storm herself has worked with Boys & Girls Club since she was 16 and thinks back fondly on her own mentors who had a “huge impact” on her. “Just the lives that I was able to touch through those programs,” Storm says. “The kids that walk up to me … to see the smiles on their faces, I’m almost in tears now because it does something to me.”
UBLAC is the first organization both Garrett and Storm ever created, and in Storm’s words, leading it has taught her a few lessons on patience. Despite the challenges, Storm wouldn’t trade her experience for anything. “It’s taught me a different and a new type of love,” she says. “It’s made me hopeful that we can—that we have—made a change and we can continue to make a change.”
“The kids that walk up to me … to see the smiles on their faces, I’m almost in tears now because it does something to me.”
With Storm at the helm, UBLAC’s impact is only getting larger. With new, exciting community partnerships in the works and workshops on the way, UBLAC is an organization that is always evolving to fit the needs of the community. “I’m excited for the future,” Storm says. “I’m excited to see where we take UBLAC. I’m excited for UBLAC to continue to grow.”
Stay connected with UBLAC through Facebook at Utah Black Artists Collective, on Instagram @_ublac_ and through their website, ublac.org. You can support UBLAC through donations via their website, and Storm encourages everyone to get involved: “Show us some love and participate in our events so we can continue to bridge the gap and build community.”
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