Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools’ (BSICS) Director of Student Development Oscar Lester says art has been a part of his life since he was a child. Most recently, Lester’s work was showcased as part of the Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition.
An exhibition favorite, Lester, also known as Baba Kwaw, has been selected three times since 2012 to present his artwork during the popular Black History Month event. This year’s exhibit featured his painting Tree. In celebration of Black History Month, the collection includes 100 pieces of work from professional and emerging African American artists from all over the country. The exhibition features paintings, drawings, fine art prints, sculpture, mixed-media, ceramics and photography by African Americans, including youth artists between the ages of 14 and 17.
Lester’s love for art continued throughout high school, his undergraduate career, and to the present time of showing his paintings at the Harlem Fine Arts Exhibition, Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series, Gallery Guichard, Chicago State University, and the South Side Community Arts Center, among others. His work has gotten the attention of several high-profile Chicagoans and afforded him the opportunity to create portraits for news anchor Hosea Sanders, recording artist Lupe Fiasco and Oprah Winfrey. Currently, the multi-media artist’s work is on display at Some Like It Black Artist Cafe and 345 Art Gallery. Lester’s artistic style was inspired by famed artists Ernie Barnes, Jacob Lawrence, Annie Lee, Africobra and Henry Tanner.
Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools (BSICS) is an African-centered network of institutions that is culturally rooted in academic excellence for next generation leadership. In 1998, BSICS became the first African-centered public charter school in Chicago. In 2005, BSICS grew into a network of two K-8 elementary schools and one high school. Today, the network includes the flagship campus Betty Shabazz Academy and the Barbara A. Sizemore Academy. Since its inception, Shabazz has consistently produced exemplary, high-achieving students who have a strong sense of cultural identity and a commitment to make positive contributions to the community and the world.