By Nyame-kye Kondo
Special to the AFRO

D.C. based multimedia art event “Opaline” is a monthly performance series that features various performers,vendors and a chance for Black artists to network and fellowship in a peaceful environment.

Recently celebrating its one year anniversary at the Black Cat, located in the bustling U Street corridor, the event featured performances by Babby, Maya Esoteric, art by SaintGolder and Indicut, and a number of other artists. A colorful event with projection and exploratory art insulations, the AFRO got a chance to catch up with its founder Briona Butler, and ask her questions about the burgeoning movement.

Opaline creative director and founder Briona Butler speaks on what inspired the burgeoning art movement in the D.C. area. (Courtesy Photo.)

“Opaline is a place of expression, a place where Black people can emote their feelings and build interdependence amongst one another,” Butler said. “There is a plethora of media of which to engage at any Opaline shows, but what all the artists have in common is the fact that they are creating constructively. We create and share with the intention of healing one another through our respective practices.”

A staunch supporter of Black entrepreneurship, Butler’s event also enables Black people to gird themselves in an environment of economic sufficiency by giving them the chance to vend and market themselves to Opaline’s patrons. 

Considered to be multifunctional in nature, Butler credits the success of her events not only to the artist that inhabit the space, but to the overall energy that is nurtured there by all in attendance.

“Opaline, is a positive and enjoyable event because it gives Black artists an opportunity to not only perform and sell their products, but to also get peer motivation.” 

D.C. based vocalist Jenna Camille, said: “One thing I remember about my first Opaline experience was the affirmations they had on the walls, affirmations of encouragement.”

Rooted in the ideology that Black people should be able to exchange with one another uninhibitedly, whether creatively or otherwise, Butler, said that all of this is done meticulously and with intention. 

“The musical heritage of D.C. is string and rich. Our resilience is not only evident in how we create art here, but also how we present it. My specific reason for creating Opaline was simple: to provide a childhood friend with the platform to perform some new art. Inadvertently my intention was to present one thing, but my intention became bigger when I realized how important a space like Opaline was for the people.”

The name of the performance series, as well as its colorful branding, is rooted in the idea of an all encompassing environment.

“Opaline is any color that can be found in an opal, and has also been deemed the chosen amulet of the charitable visionary. That’s important to me because Opaline is my love offering to my community and the space we’ve been cultivating,” said Butler. 

“Business relationships are initiated and nurtured at our gatherings. We are developing into a self sustaining infrastructure and my aim is that eventually the Black artist will have no reason to outsource.”

A nomadic Movement, Opaline is gearing up for its first show of the New Year at the historic Pen Arts Gallery on Jan. 1. Another night of iridescent sounds and exploratory activities, the event will feature a slew of artist including D.C. artist, Kamila Gem and a special appearance by Baltimore based M.C., Butch Dawson.