N.C. A&T Visual Arts Major Wins JCPenney HBCU Design Challenge

By Markita C. Rowe / 02/26/2024 College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Feb. 26, 2024) — North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University senior Janiya Barcliff has again proven her exceptional talent and creativity by winning JCPenney’s third annual HBCU Design Challenge, which showcases the creativity and talent of students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Barcliff, a senior majoring in visual arts design, has an impressive history of winning design competitions including the 2023 HBC-YOU T-Shirt Design Contest for the Milwaukee Bucks as well as being a featured artist in the 2023 NBA ALL STARxHBCU Student Art Showcase in Salt Lake City.This is a photo of Janiya Barcliff

As the JCPenney winner, Barcliff received a $4,000 scholarship and a two-day visit to the JCPenney headquarters in Plano, Texas, where she shadowed members of their design team. She also was engaged in seven virtual mentoring sessions with JCPenney executives who offered personalized guidance and professional insights on topics including brand building, fashion design and retail business.

“The love and warming energy the entire team showed me was something I will always remember about my experience at the JCPenney headquarters,” said Barcliff.  “Having dinner with JCPenney executives was a highlight, and I’ll forever cherish the advice, encouragement and support they offered.”

Barcliff’s winning design is featured in this year’s JCPenney Black History Month Hope & Wonder collection, which celebrates Black pride, beauty and brilliance.

“My design was inspired by the challenge theme,” said Barcliff. “They asked us to visually express what ‘your Black is.’ The shirt celebrates embracing one's identity as a Black individual, featuring words like simply complicated, powerful, impressive, strong, irreplaceable, visionary, extraordinary, authentic, worthy, exceptional, honored and remembered. These words remind us of our worth."

The collection also features empowering phrases like “I am Black + proud” and “Black Excellence,” pays homage to HBCU pride and honors influential figures in Black history, including Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X.

Barcliff’s design was carefully evaluated and selected by JCPenney’s Design Council, comprised of senior leaders from various departments including design, textiles, talent, inclusion and diversity.

“Janiya exemplifies the desire and drive shared by everyone in our Visual Arts Program,” said Roy Carter, associate professor and director of the N.C. A&T Visual Arts Program. “We are very proud of her achievements.”

Barcliff’s winning T-shirt design is available here.

Media Contact Information: mcrowe@ncat.edu

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