ARTs East New York is a local institute that helps the local community express itself through the arts
On Thursday, May 3, ARTs East New York held the opening reception for their newest exhibit, an art show entitled, ‘Negritude,’ where multiple artist showcased art that portrayed their personal views of how the African-American community is viewed or how it should be viewed in this society.
This event was curated by Alexis Mane a young African-American man who believed art by those of the African-American community should be showcased professionally because, “‘Hood art’ has meaning; its not just a hobby,” said Mane. “It can be someone’s way of life, passion, profession.”
Negritude is a term created by the poet Aime Cesaire, defined as “The simple recognition of the fact that one is black; the acceptance of this fact and of our destiny as blacks, of our history and culture.” After viewing the art and speaking to a few of the artists, the definition of ‘Negritude” was captured and honored by the artwork displayed.
Artist O’Brianna Lindo is a photographer and a clothing designer, the piece she featured is a picture of a young dark-skinned African-American woman dressed in Kenyan garb. Lindo explained that she used a dark skin curvy woman because she wanted to show that though she may not be what is accepted in the western culture. But for a woman, she is everything a woman is: beautiful, soft, strong regardless of societal views.
Diane Wah was a featured artist that had multiple pieces of art work on display. Her art was one that made viewers stop think, ask questions, have an intense conversation. When asked, Wah said, “I wanted to do something that paid homage to and elevated people who don’t get the credit they deserve.”
Her art depicted a woman in fetal position laying on top of rocks and rubble surrounded by text, Wah explained that this piece was made following the earthquakes in Haiti to pay homage to those who were found buried alive. She used the lyrics of Nina Simone’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas” (Don’t leave me) as a funeral dirge to make the piece “respectfully sad” to show the beauty and the pain.
As people roamed toured the exhibit, there was caribbean music playing, people drinking, laughing, conversing about the art, networking and enjoying being together in such a creative space. One thing that stood out was something Diane Wah said while explaining her art: “Black people didn’t have the right to feel pain.”
Being in the midst of this event that was filled with all types of emotion, it wasn’t pain that was most evident; a blanket of peace and happiness covered the room.