Student Spotlight: Angel Flowers

March 2, 2020

Community-builder and DJ Angel Flowers is a junior in the BIS program who wants to help mobilize the arts to assist in public health, policymaking, and uplifting the work of nonprofits in the city. With a focus in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies and African American Studies, Angel found a great fit in the BIS program where her advisor has been essential in helping her create a curriculum that reflects and blends her interests.

When Angel first arrived in Richmond, it took her a while to finally arrive in her scene in the DIY music/art committee. Here, she found a friend group that accepted her with open arms and spaces of joy that led her to explore her own artistry. Angel’s creative journey began with wanting to create a space where people can find friends -- or more -- and see artists they usually wouldn’t. Through creating spaces for others, she addresses issues of inequality and misrepresentation by asking questions like: who are we not seeing? Who is the best? Why do some people get coverage while others don’t? Angel’s project in Richmond, Ice Cream Support Group, started with a dance party in her living room, djing on Spotify from cell phones. While Angel wanted to bring the great parties she’d been to over the country to Richmond, she also wanted to create a QPOC platform that serves as a creative and hang out place for video games or movies and provides resources for community members and for organizations that serve the community. Through hosting parties, Ice Cream Social --- the groups dance party -- is able to raise money for rent, QTPOC social justice innovators, local organizations like Nationz, Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project, and Black Pride RVA, and to assist in individual needs like healthcare, rides, and elevating their work. In these spaces, Angel hopes to create places of safety which she describes as peace of mind, the ability to walk down the street unbothered, having proximity away from harm, and having a space of wellness to grow. Being connected with your community and knowing what’s going on in the city you’re living in/the state that you’re from is critical. Angel encourages students to ask themselves who is doing work they appreciate in order to take care of others. Giving a couple dollars, spreading awareness, and volunteering can lead to paths you never imagined. “When I first got here, I wasn’t thinking about all of these things, I realized the world is so much bigger than me and it taught me about myself. May

Community-building isn’t always easy though, as Angel admits. “My identity has evolved from birth to now, and it continues to! Perceptions fluctuate [in society] and exposure to violence gives big perspectives. Different lived experiences allowed me to zoom out and [realize] that I’ll always be deconstructing and building myself and my identity.” Through realizing that shared identities don’t make shared lived experiences, Angel was able to use empathy as a tool to understand “self within others” and to allow herself to be called in by her community. To be able to impact others to make a change, Angel says, she has to be aware that it is easy to become elitist in the academy and that she needs to remain open to critique. By conducting needs assessments of the community, and constantly analyzing who is in your community -- it should be more than you and your VCU friend group -- Angel hopes to create a network where no one goes unnoticed. Although everyone in the community can’t be your friend, and some will make you uncomfortable, Angel hopes that we can use these moments to grow and to recognize our similarities. “I want to work in a world where we can depend on each other more. We’re all cells that run the whole body, art is the in-between, and joy is the unifying factor.” Keep an eye out for Ice Cream Social events this summer!