AUC’s Artistic Haven: Inside the Vibrant World of Spriggs Burroughs

Updated on Mar 18th. to give proper credit to FOE media team.
Poster Designed by Sydney Wilson and Simone Watson
Photos by Official FOE Media Team
Poster Designed by Sydney Wilson and Simone Watson
Photos by Official FOE Media Team

Spriggs Burroughs is our campus community’s drama and dance ensemble. However, it is open to all AUC students interested in anything related to the arts. Spriggs was founded in 2014 to entertain and educate students with productions such as “Festival of Eccentrics” and “Art After Dark.” 

“Festival of Eccentrics,” held during the fall semester, serves as a ballroom-inspired showcase celebrating Black queerness. Different houses compete through various performances to win the title of House of Eccentrics. With the organization holding the show for the past three years, student performers across the AUC have had the opportunity to explore new skills within their creativity and bond with like-minded individuals. “Art After Dark,” held during the spring semester, began about eleven years ago. Last year’s show, “Art After Dark: Outta’ Time,” was the event’s tenth anniversary.

Spriggs, being a student-led organization, makes a point of uplifting its students through their creativity, production, and performances. Righteous Walton, a current junior computer science major with a minor in art, serves as a videographer for Spriggs. “Film doesn’t really seem like the place where I would fit in,” they said. “We were able to capture and document the words of Spriggs Burroughs, which hadn’t been done to that full extent. Spriggs Burroughs really gave me that push to get started in film. They also supported me by giving me some great people to help me get started. The opportunity to even hold a camera and a lot of their trust.” they stated.

For students interested in the arts, Spriggs proves to impact students needing creative outlets positively. Robyn Simpson, a third-year art history major with a minor in curatorial studies, has performed in each production twice during her tenure.

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“It really gives you a safe space to explore how you want to present yourself in an artistic space and to an audience,” she comments. “In my time there, it’s really just been a freeing experience being able to learn and grow and just have fun in terms of writing or acting or performing…they put a really large emphasis on just being genuine and true to yourself.” she expressed. With a strong advocacy for self-expression among its members, Spriggs also promotes a familiar environment filled with support.

Patience Stuckey, a graduating senior majoring in sociology and anthropology with a minor in writing, has been a part of Spriggs since 2021, previously performing in four shows. “I needed an outlet. Spriggs was that outlet in a very non-judgmental, familial setting. The support has given me a home, my art a home, and my ideas a home, and finding new friends and family.” she said.

Spriggs has also impacted students who have already passed under the arch. Annaya Baynes, an English and French alumna, says she is better because of her involvement in Spriggs. “I’m more secure in my artistry, and I know I must keep creating art. Spriggs gave me a space to continue acting, and I believe that acting is one of the ultimate exercises in empathy. Spriggs made me a better artist.” she reflected.

Although the organization fosters a lot of support within, it has been difficult to receive that support from Spelman as an institution. When asked how Spelman supports its students interested in the arts and film, Simpson commented, “In Spriggs specifically, I’ve known the club to struggle with Spelman, with the institution in terms of support and having things run smoothly…” she said.

Stuckey added, “Just speaking during my time, no, I wouldn’t say they’ve always been supportive. We’ve had to host shows in classrooms because it’s such an issue to get space, which is actually a problem for the entire AUC.” she stated. The organization has also promoted its shows through social media and school-wide emails to students and faculty without additional help.

Along with doubt from the institution, students must overcome self-doubt in their abilities, as performing can be a vulnerable practice for those in creative spaces. However, with Spriggs advertising itself as a welcoming space, students feel it is easy to feel supported by the organization. Simpson explains, “When I did feel that doubt, a lot of it stemmed from me comparing myself to other people. There are so many amazing, talented individuals within Spriggs. It can be easy to get caught in the trap of seeing them and then comparing who they are, what they can do to yourself and what you perceive your worth as and what you can accomplish. I think that what helps me with that is pushing through it. Seeing them for the talented individuals they are and not what they can do.” she expressed.

With Stuckey graduating high school on the heels of the pandemic, she felt cynical about the ability to continue her artistic endeavors. “Spriggs has allowed me to continue to play and to feed my inner child who is interested in arts. I’m an artist by trade; poetry is what I use to survive, it’s what I use to navigate life. Spriggs has given me an outlet to keep doing that, and it’s pushed me to keep trying new things.” she said. 

The most recent production of Festival of Eccentrics had a successful run, with three performances plus an encore night. Art After Dark 2024 is rapidly approaching, which means new talent is begging to be showcased. Upon interviewing performers and videographers alike, their advice to younger students entering the world of Spriggs Burroughs would be to “Do it! Join any art thing that interests you. The coolest, most interesting people will be there doing some really amazing stuff. You can only benefit from deepening your relationship with art. Especially if your major has nothing to do with fine arts, being involved in Spriggs or other arts programs will make you more well-rounded.” Baynes noted.

Walton adds, “I would absolutely tell them to do it, queer or not. If you are interested in any type of art format. There are not a lot of options here at Spelman, and there are not too many at Morehouse either, so anyone at Clark, Morehouse, Spelman, or even Morris Brown comes to Spriggs Burroughs. If you know how to hold a camera, come on over, for real.” they advised.

As a writer and poet, Spriggs inspires students like me to venture outside their comfort zone. Though I was only involved in Spriggs for a semester, I’ve seen the organization’s impact on AUC students, past and current. Spriggs offers a great experience to everyone, whether they are performing, writing, directing, or a one-time audience member. I believe every student interested in the arts, dance, music, or film should have the solidifying experience that Spriggs Burroughs offers to each of its members.

If any students are interested in joining or supporting, more information about Spriggs Burroughs can be found on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

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    LisaMar 3, 2024 at 2:16 pm

    Wow. What a great story and hopefully Spelman can get more involved… Don’t sleep on these upcoming Academy Awards soon to be winners … Great job Nigella.