Community Gem: Dayton woman helps tell the story of Black art and artists

Dana Graham is the founder and creative director of Scripted in Black, a multidisciplinary creative collective. Others say she creates spaces for Black creatives that are not seen much in Dayton.

“She curates social experiences rooted in art and culture,” said Chantel Josey, of Columbus, a Wright State grad who nominated Graham as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem. “She hosts events and lives collaborating with other Black creatives holding spaces & discussing different issues and topics.”

Josey said Graham also is a lover of the community and “wants to see the change she so wants.”

“Not only does she want change, she helps and collaborates with other Black creatives and creatives, in general,” she said.

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Graham also was nominated as a Community Gem by Ishmael McKinney, of Dayton, a Wright State grad.

“The work she has done crafting her Scripted in Black has been doing an amazing job telling the story of Black art and artists from many different disciplines,” McKinney said.

Graham said she was grateful and honored to have been recognized.

“What I hear from both of their nomination is my passion for the community, my passion for Black culture, creativity and art,” she said. “So the fact that that shines through all of the things that I do with Scripted in Black, my intentions with Scripted in Black and just how I carry myself, that makes me feel very good.”

Graham formed Scripted in Black as a hobby in 2017, but didn’t make it official with Ohio until 2020.

“Black and brown identities didn’t really have a socially forward and intentional creative space in the community, especially in the Dayton community, that was representative of our stories, who we are, how we operate, how we live,” she said. “I feel like the traditional creative spaces in the city didn’t do a great jobs of keeping us lifted and represented in the types of content of work that they were showcasing. I just felt that there was a need to tell our stories differently, actually in our communities at black-owned businesses that our community frequents, just right there in their face and not having them feel that it’s not affordable or welcoming.”

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Throughout the pandemic and the relaunch of her brand, Graham has done “an amazing job” of highlighting art from a holistic perspective, McKinney said.

“Scripted in Black is a place where you can learn, have fun and heal through and with art by highlighting not only important things from our culture, but by also celebrating the people in Dayton who make the art scene special,” he said.

Graham said she can’t ever say she accomplished what she did by herself.

“I would be remiss if I did not mention (visuals and marketing director) Korey Smith and (installment coordinator) Ashley Brooks, who have definitely done amazing with hosting and curating events in the city,” she said.

Scripted in Black, she said, helps the underground scene of Black creativity within cities to find their space, find their home and connect with other like-minded individuals and to be able to collaborate in a unique way that may not be mainstream.

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