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Tuesday, February 1st - Sunday, March 27th, 2011 - Images of the African Diaspora in New York City Community Murals
Author : The American Library in Paris

Top Image: Laura James, Behold How Good and Pleasant It Is..., 1992 Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York photo

The American Library in Paris - 10 rue du Général Camou - 75007 Paris
an exhibition curated by Jane Weissman

"Be as proud of your race today as our fathers were in the days of yore. We have a beautiful history. And we shall create another in the future that will astonish the world." These words of Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) find visual representation in New York City’s community murals – collaborations between artists and community organizations that reflect the lives and concerns of neighborhood residents.

Images of the African Diaspora in New York City Community Murals explores how African and Caribbean art, history, religion and myth have influenced mural themes and content.

Starting with New York’s earliest community murals in Harlem (1968-71), the exhibition focuses on the National Black Arts Movement (often considered the cultural art of the Black Power Movement), the artistic philosophy of Ghanaian artist Kofi Antubam, and how the artists drew inspiration from Adinkra and African fertility symbols, Ndebele house painting, Egyptian rituals, and representations of Jesus and his disciples as Blacks.

These murals – and those found in other Manhattan neighborhoods, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx – also include references to African American cultural figures, history and politics, the Caribbean slave trade, Ethiopian illuminated manuscripts and magic scrolls, and Bògòlanfini (mud cloth) fabric. Since the mid 1990s, murals have both depicted and commented on recent immigration to the United States.

The West African Sankofa Bird is usually represented flying forward while looking backward with an egg – symbolizing the future – in its mouth. Only by looking at the past, can we understand who we are now and determine how to move forward. Decoded – through examination of traditional meanings and underlying philosophies – these murals stand as visual representations of the cultural, social and political currents not only of the times in which they were painted, but also of today.

Funding for the development of Images of the African Diaspora in New York City Community Murals was provided by New York Council for the Humanities. The current installation has been underwritten by a generous grant from the Puffin Foundation.

About Jane Weissman
Jane Weissman is co-author of the cultural history, On the Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in New York City (with Janet Braun-Reinitz, University Press of Mississippi, 2009). In conjunction with the publication of On the Wall, Jane developed and curated the traveling exhibition "Images of the African Diaspora in New York City Community Murals." A longtime member of Artmakers Inc., she has been the project director and a participating artist for several Artmakers murals including the award-winning When Women Pursue Justice (2005).

For more information:

Read the article on the history of The American Library in Paris.

Some of the events listed above are posted as courtesy and may require a participation fee. They are listed for information purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement.
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