Oakland native Milton 510 Bowens shares work with Sac State

Elizabeth DeCicco

Artist Milton 510 Bowens, an Oakland native and fifth sibling of ten children, has become notably recognized across campus this month for his artistic talent and community engagement.

Located on the University Union’s second floor gallery sits Bowen’s current exhibit titled after Carter Godwin Woodson’s book, “The Mis-Education of the Post Black Negro.” The book, published in 1933, emphasizes conditioning of minorities through education. Bowen’s vibrant collection of fine art portrays a connection with historical and modern aspects of African-American culture, including Civil Rights figures and pop culture images.

Bowens grew up in East Oakland, and attended Renaissance Art School during his last two years of high school. Milton then accepted a scholarship from the California College of Arts and Crafts, where he studied for one year before enlisting in the United States Armed Forces.

After achieving his Associates Degree in Commercial Art under the Army’s College Education Assistance Program (ACE), Bowens then adjusted his focus from illustration to fine art.

“I don’t paint for ‘the sake of painting,’” said Bowens. As a multi-media artist, Bowens continuously features African American culture in his work.

As Dr. Woodson’s book is one of Bowen’s favorites, he was curious as to how many students have read it, given that it is a required reading in African American studies. Bowen’s artwork meant to introduce the book to the campus community.

“It’s a powerful book for African Americans in terms of understanding how to take advantage of education,” said Bowens.

In his exhibit, Bowens compares the status of education with Dr. Woodson’s era and today’s digital age containing social media and electronic devices. Bowens poses the question on how education and methods of receiving information have changed.

“You can have 5,000 friends on Facebook and be the loneliest person on the planet…It’s not a tangible friendship in a digital age. If power outages happen, how many people can actually function?”

Bowens was initially booked as a lecturer, but UNIQUE program advisor Ajamu Lamumba believed both his public speaking and artistic ability to serve beneficial for Black History Month.

Unlike previous art exhibits, Milton not only brought his artistic demonstration, but has also discussed his work and its objective: to inspire viewers and the remaining community.

“He’s so interested in giving back to the community and educating students,” said Rebecca Voorhees, design, identity, and studio manager of the University Union Gallery. “He is someone who just doesn’t hang up his artwork in the gallery. He wants to come and talk to people,” said Voorhees.

Bowens was recently given the 2014 Peace Education Award from the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution at Sac State. In April, he will be recognized at the 23rd Annual Africa and Diaspora Conference.

“He’s well known in the region,” said Lamumba. “It’s not his first time on campus.”

In 2005, Bowen’s past artwork has been displayed in the library’s art gallery.

Bowens will return to campus for the exhibit’s closing reception on Feb. 27 from 6-8 p.m.

Elizabeth DeCicco can be reached at [email protected]