— Championing African Americans and the Arts —
Uncasville, CT (February 1, 2024) – Today, the Connecticut Sun announced its 2024 Black History Month activations.
The Sun will be releasing a content piece titled “My Hair. My Crown.” The piece—an ode to the beauty and versatility of Black hair through the hair journeys of Connecticut Sun players, Brionna Jones, Ty Harris and DiJonai Carrington, and Connecticut Sun Director of Franchise Development and Assistant General Manager, Morgan Tuck—”My Hair. My Crown,” will premiere on NBC10 Boston’s Hub Today and subsequently live on the Connecticut Sun’s YouTube page.
Joining Connecticut Sun player and staff features will be Connecticut Sun Play Big Shop Small business owner, Ni-Tasia Sutton, owner of The Braid Hive and Lovelan’s Beauty Supply in New London, CT. Sutton, a braider known for her detailed stitch braids and impact on her local community, uses the art of hair braiding to interact with and empower her clients, while motivating them to achieve their goals.
Sutton is featured telling her own hair journey, including the reasons why she decided to start her small business, what Black hair means to her, and how she uses styling as a form of therapy for herself and her clients. “The Sun highlighting me motivates me to stay on my toes,” Sutton reflected. “I’m deeply grateful and honored that my business has entered certain rooms. ‘No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.'”
The Connecticut Sun will also be selling “My Hair. My Crown.” t-shirts in honor of its Black History Month campaign. The shirt, detailed with nine illustrations of Black hairstyles—box braids, afro, two puffs, bantu knots, loose curls, afro puff, locs, bald (close cropped), and cornrows—will be available on the organization’s merchandise website.
In addition to its “My Hair. My Crown.” campaign, the Connecticut Sun will be highlighting the work of four Connecticut-based artists—Kimolee Eryn, Charmagne Tripp, David Jackson, and Andre Rochester—to celebrate this year’s Black History Month theme of “African Americans and the Arts.”
Kimolee Eryn is an award winning, multidisciplinary artist and author from Connecticut whose love of learning has empowered her to fuse elements from life and art to drive human-centered storytelling as an independent artist as well as a teaching artist. With awards such as the Jamilah T. Muhammad Award, the Elizabeth L. Mahaffey Arts Administration Fellowship, The Artist of Color Accelerate Fellowship and a residency with The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, she has been seizing opportunities to learn, grow, and share with those around her. As a poet, she believes in authenticity and vulnerability and has an affinity for word play. As an educator and artist, she is process-oriented with an emphasis on reverse engineering from a vision: big picture meets every little bit counts.
“For me, being an artist is about reflecting the times just as much as it’s about self-expression. Having my work highlighted creates visibility that it would take a long time to achieve if I were to do it on my own. Visibility for an author and poet is more than about being seen; it’s also about being heard—and when your work is in service to more than just self, so many people are heard simultaneously.” – Kimolee Eryn
Charmagne Tripp is a Grammy Award-winning vocalist and lyricist. Also, a producer, creator, mentor, and host she has entertained audiences professionally for over 25 years performing in the styles of Adult Contemporary, Soul and R&B. Living in Connecticut, she has fronted award-winning bands, performed and held residencies internationally, produced live shows, and recorded five albums. In 2013, Charmagne took some time away from the stage to shift her focus to production, supporting community efforts, and mentoring young artists. She and her comedic writing spouse, Tianna, established Gripp Productions, a music and theater company whose mission is to create and cultivate new and original work that highlights and supports the voices and stories of marginalized groups including, but not limited to, Black and LGBTQi Communities.
“I am proud to be among the artists highlighted by The Connecticut Sun. As a longtime passionate fan of the team and the organization’s values, receiving this kind of support in return is affirming. Highlighting the work of black queer performers is crucial for fostering inclusivity and belonging. Using your platform for artists to share their unique perspectives, cultural influences, and musical innovations is a valuable way to support homegrown artists from historically marginalized groups. Connecticut Sun fans are the best! And having my work shared with them is an amazing honor.” – Charmagne Tripp
David C. Jackson is an active artist who combines his creative and administrative-counseling skillsets. As a fine artist, David works predominantly in oil, acrylic, watercolor, and colored pencil. He has been an art instructor and has exhibited at various institutions in the northeast, galleries, museums, and private pop-ups. Currently, Jackson serves as an Adjunct Instructor and Advisor at CT State Community College – Tunxis, where he develops primarily Visual Fine Arts and Graphic Design students. He is passionate about assisting others obtain their goals and working with diverse populations–displaying a strong ability to strategically connect with families, especially those who are marginalized or underrepresented while helping students identify, determine, and cultivate their path so they may maximize their potential. David thrives through his personal motto – I.C.E. – Illustrate. Captivate. Educate. He accomplishes this by blending sound advising, business acumen, and artistic background while exploring and amplifying individuals’ unique experiences.
“It’s important for my work to be highlighted because this opportunity provides a non-traditional platform for people to be exposed to art through a contemporary African-American lens. Black art has many facets, but my story and scope hasn’t been fully captured yet. My work, in particular, bridges classic, historical elements with a current, fresh expression. Having the ability to connect with a diverse range of people is critical for my personal and professional growth where relationships are built and cultural pallets are exchanged driving new ideas and matching collectors interests.” – David C. Jackson
Andre Rochester is a Fine Artist from the Greater Hartford region of Connecticut. Andre makes statements for which words are not enough, highlighting underlying emotions connected to his subjects. It is a combination of portraiture and conceptual works linked by narratives of his own experiences. His art is a tool for healing and a catalyst for connection letting people know they are not alone. Rochester is currently the Program Manager at The 224 EcoSpace in Hartford, where he curates exhibits and oversees execution of arts events and programs, including the Artists of Color Accelerate Fellowship. He is also the Art Curator at UConn Health, in charge of a collection of over 2500 works of art across multiple facilities. Andre coaches emerging artists, encouraging them to develop their craft with a focus on professionalism and business acumen. He believes that with every step forward, we must make room for others to join us.
“It feels good to be seen by an organization such as the Connecticut Sun. I work hard as a creative and to learn that they have become aware of what I’m doing is affirming and motivational. Now I’m even more inspired to create bigger and better art because I know for certain my audience is expanding.” – Andre Rochester
The Connecticut Sun’s Home Opener will be against the Indiana Fever on Tuesday, May 14 at 8:00 PM EST. Individual tickets are on sale now.
Established in 2003, the Connecticut Sun is a professional women’s basketball team in the Women’s National Basketball Association that takes residence at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. For more information or to purchase season tickets, visit www.connecticutsun.com or call 1-877-SUN-TIXX.