Hyphen American at Gallery 102

February 15, 2018 § Leave a comment

Installation from Ethiopian-American artist Helina Metaferia

At Gallery 102 on the campus of George Washington University last week a timely new exhibition opened  to the public, kicking off with riveting performances by three artists from diverse backgrounds addressing the fluidity, ambivalence and anxiety that can come from a hybrid cultural identity. Entitled “Hyphen American,” it features several multidisciplinary and performance artists whose works challenge the dominant perception of immigrant communities and people from different cultural and social backgrounds.

Fittingly, the idea behind Hyphen American came from two first generation Americans whose similar experiences with their own families and community were the force behind their collaboration. Tsedaye Makonnen, an Ethiopian-American multidisciplinary and performance artist and Alexandra “Rex” Delafkaran, an Iranian-American sculptor, performance artist and curator approached the project from the viewpoint of language and the way it can lay « Read the rest of this entry »

African Arts and Fashion on Display in DC

May 26, 2016 § 4 Comments

AA Fashion Showcase_

AAFWDC Founder Uche Ibezue (l) with Maria, makeup artist.

When Uche Ibezue of Omak Designs started African Arts and Fashion Week DC, her idea was not simply to bring attention to the nation’s capital as a fashion force. Grabbing the attention of the fashion market, both national and global, was an abiding aspiration. Last week, the third annual AAFWDC featured a panel discussion and fashion showcase, and many of the burning issues regarding African fashion were raised.

A few years ago it was nice to see a number of celebrities wearing African print designs to red carpet events worldwide. Famous names like Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Solange Knowles and her sister Beyonce, Angela Simmons, and even Gwen Stefani were all spotted in gowns and complete sets that were made from African prints like Ankara and Kente. The popularity of those designs has since trickled down to the young ones, the rebellious youth that are always finding innovative ways of expressing themselves. In that vein, a young lady “broke the internet” when she created a stunningly beautiful African print gown, posted it on Instagram, and « Read the rest of this entry »

Shattering The Silence: Benefit for the 1st World Summit of African Descendants

July 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

At the start of the year, the United Nations pronounced 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent. In recognition of the resilience and power of African Descendants all over the world, the US International Coordinating Committee for the 1st World Summit of African Descendants is holding a benefit concert Friday July 15 at Bloombars in Columbia Heights, Washington, DC. This concert aims to raise funds for those who cannot afford the cost of travel to La Ceiba, Honduras where the summit will be held from August 18-21 2011. Some of the artists performing will be DC Casineros, a duo from African diaspora group Sahel, DC Mambo, and Vicky Leyva. Afro-Cuban painter Lazaro Batista will also showcase his art. Bloombars is at 3222 11th Street NW. The show starts at 9:00pm. Check out a quick preview above featuring DC Mambo, Lazaro Batista and Adrian Valdivia from DC Casineros. For more information check out the summit website here. Bless…

The West Indies and West Africa converge for Africa Underground 2

June 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Moko Jumbie

I can’t really see myself missing After Hours at African Art, when the Smithsonian opens the doors of its museum after hours to revelers who can dance, eat, drink, party, and enjoy the breathtaking exhibitions there. After being away from the country for a couple of months, I returned just in time to attend the second edition of Africa Underground. For the hugely successful first installment at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC in February, the organizers took us down south for a Brazilian samba-flavored showcase of art, music and culture. This time (the party was on May 20) the serving was distinctly West Indian in its character, yet an equally joyous and colorful exposé of the connection between the Caribbean and West Africa. The sold out event featured live music out on the grounds, and on the inside a DJ, poetry and spoken word, arts and crafts, and a talk on the West Indian/West African connection. I arrived a bit late, unfortunately, and missed a great performance in the garden by the moko jumbies (stilt walkers). But right after that Papa Wabe,
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Tim Reid Offers Scholarships to Diaspora Filmmakers in London

March 31, 2011 § 2 Comments

Tim Reid addresses filmmakers at the British Film Institute Southbank in London

It certainly feels like an age since I posted here; my apologies. Travel sometimes does that to you. I spent a few days in the UK on my way to Sierra Leone, and as you may know, the internet in Freetown is pretty patchy…. In any case I was invited to a great event by my friend Makeda in London just before I left. It was an event organized by the Black World Cinema Collective and the Legacy Media Institute. Producer, filmmaker and actor Tim Reid, popularly known for his role in the TV series Frank’s Place, was talking extensively about the African Diaspora. Delivering a presentation entitled “Cultural Propaganda for Purpose and Profit,” he asserted that emerging black filmmakers have the advantage of a unique cultural experience in telling their own stories. Reid was at the British « Read the rest of this entry »

New Video: Africa Underground at the National Museum of African Art

March 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

Zezeh Brazil Samba Troupe

The event was billed as Africa Underground; held on February 18, 2011 it sold out so quickly, to the point where it was rumored that scalpers tried to make a quick buck with their tickets on Craigslist. The organizers knew they had a successful show on their hands, and the video and photos are the proof!. The Afro-Brazilian theme was brought to life with drinks, dancing, partying, and art, featuring Zezeh Brazil Samba, Afrobeat music spun by DJs Adrian Loving and Munch, Brazilian cocktails, and mixed media art from Brazil’s Henrique Oliveira « Read the rest of this entry »

White Actor plays Black African in Ghanaian film Elmina

March 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

Ato and the townspeople listen to their chief

In what he expects will seriously challenge your suspension of disbelief, performance artist Doug Fishbone came up with an intriguing ploy. This “white guy from New York” living in London assumed the lead role in the all-black Ghanaian film production of Elmina. It is the latest in a series of art explorations by Fishbone that seek to disrupt viewers’ sense of perception and reality. The film deals with the struggle of local residents in the Ghanaian coastal town of Elmina to hold on to their land, against the wishes of a corrupt chief, when oil is discovered there. Much of Fishbone’s past work fuses humor and satire, in which he places consumers in the awkward position of questioning their own understanding of representation and culture in the media. Well, in this film there is little comedy, except if one considers the insertion of Fishbone as the lone white character amongst an otherwise completely Ghanaian cast in a « Read the rest of this entry »

Afro-Brazilian Theme at Africa Underground (After Hours at African Art)

February 17, 2011 § 5 Comments

It has an almost subversive sound to it; the idea that a prestigious national museum would open its doors after dark to drinking, dancing and partying! I mean, the museum’s director is the distinguished former Spellman College President, Dr. Johnnetta Cole!! But it’s all good, and that’s what’s going to happen Friday 18th February at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, in the first of its Africa Underground series that it bills as “After Hours at African Art.” It’s a major African Diaspora event that will feature a Brazilian theme; as Dr. Cole put it in the museum’s blog, “it’s an exciting way to celebrate the ties between Africa and the African Diaspora, and for our museum to continue a vigorous conversation with communities in the Diaspora.” To that end, the organizers have brought in Zezeh Brazil Samba Troupe to have you practice your samba steps; there’ll be African wine and beer, Brazilian cocktails, « Read the rest of this entry »

Africa’s World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures Recap: Great News Overlooked

January 21, 2011 § 6 Comments

It was supposed to be the most significant and talked-about cultural event in Africa in 2010 after the World Cup. The 3rd World Festival of Black Arts and Culture had thousands from around Africa and the black Diaspora flocking to Dakar, Senegal last December, but for some reason it ended up receiving scant attention in the mainstream media. And it was certainly not for lack of celebrity attendance; heads of state like Ellen Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia and Libya’s Gaddafi, entertainers like Wyclef Jean, Angelique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour, Dead Prez, Manu Di Bango, Busta Rhymes, to name a few, all took part in the various events. Senegalese-American artist Akon was the festival’s closing act at a free concert on New Year’s Day. In fact, all the concerts were free. There were arts and craft shows, cinema, design, « Read the rest of this entry »

Stolen African Art from Benin Up for Auction at Sotheby’s?

December 24, 2010 § 5 Comments

Benin Mask picturing Queen Idia of the Ancient Kingdom of Benin

A 16th century Benin mask, whose image was famously used as the symbol of FESTAC ’77 (World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture) is about to be auctioned off at Sotheby’s in London – unless a group of determined Africans can stop it. Efforts have been ongoing for years to have the mask, which is said to represent the face of Queen Idia, the first Queen mother of Benin, be returned along with hundreds of other priceless artifacts looted from the Kingdom of Benin in 1897 during a “Punitive” invasion by the British. But what galls many African art historians now is that the descendants of Lt. Col. Sir Henry Gallwey (later changed to Galway) are putting the mask, together with 5 other precious Benin art works, up for sale in  February 2011 and hoping to get millions of pounds from them. Problem is, say historians, it’s stolen property.

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