Participation in The Association of African American Museums (AAAM) 2021 Conference

The Association of African American Museums (AAAM) holds its 2021 conference this month. The event is designed to provide networking opportunities for young museum professionals, professional development, and online learning. Speaking about the event, Vedet Coleman-Robinson, Executive Director said, “Last year’s successful launch of the first virtual conference proved that despite our distance, we can still learn, grow, and network together virtually.   Historically, the AAAM conference is a family reunion of sorts for professionals of African and African American-focused museums as well as a wide array of cultural institutions.  Last year, we gathered and connected virtually and we all were safe, protected, and healthy.  We want to have that same outcome this year.”

This year,  I’m privileged to participate in a panel discussion, titled ‘Museum Pedagogy: Informing and Educating through a Parallel Delivery of Arts, Media, and Mentorship’. I’ll be joined by Kishan Munroe- a Bahamian documentarian, researcher, and interdisciplinary artist whose practice comprises painting, drawing, photography, film, installation art, and assemblages, and Alexis Alleyne-Caputo (Afro Diaries™ & Grace and Graffiti™) – anthropologist, researcher, and award-winning interdisciplinary artist. We’ll be exploring the importance of the arts and how artists may contribute to their communities whilst supporting worthwhile objectives of museums and educational institutes.

Registered participants will gain insight on a variety of topics surrounding the museum field from a range of museum professionals throughout the country with the conference and plenary sessions.  Keeping in the tradition of their conferences, AAAM will have special guests for their keynote address and evening receptions. This year’s event will again be virtual allowing registrants to be safe, empowered, and engaged while keeping safe and healthy.

The conference runs from August 4 -6th 2021. For further details, and to register for the event please visit the AAAM’s website.

Launch of Occhi Contemporary Arts

Hoping you’re all well and looking after yourselves as we continue through this unprecedented period. It’s been quite a busy period on the art front, which has resulted in me writing fewer blog entries. However, my time has been productive back in the studio and working with Occhi Arts and Entertainment colleagues on several projects.

We’ve officially launched our visual arts platform, Occhi Contemporary Arts. The platform will showcase an eclectic mix of contemporary art by artists, with an integrated program of shows, including solo and group exhibitions. The first featured artist is London-born Kerry Zacharia.I had the pleasure of interviewing Kerry a few years ago. She has lived and worked in London all her life. Her successful 2018 solo show ‘London in Different Dimensions’ is Occhi Contemporary Art’s inaugural feature,  now online for a worldwide audience to see.  As a self-taught artist, guided by her vision, instinct, and intuition, Zacharia takes viewers on a journey through familiar urban scenes of London. The artist originally presented this collection at her central London solo art exhibition near London’s St Paul’s Cathedral. The exhibition was originally hosted by The Salvation Army at their International Headquarters, within their Gallery 101 space. Kerry has been a longtime supporter of the organization, fundraising to raise awareness and money to help support its work combating homelessness and modern slavery.  In her time practicing, she has succeeded in engaging audiences with her expressive and highly individual graphic line style.

Kerry Zacharia's Landscape by Dimensions ( Ink on Paper)
Kerry Zacharia’s Landscape by Dimensions ( Ink on Paper)

Despite the lockdowns, I’m glad to have written about many creatives working on exciting projects. I’ve also caught up with many inspiring artists who, despite recent difficulties, have focused on developing their practice or collaborating with others to show the true value of the arts. This includes Acclaimed Artist and Army Veteran Darrell Urban Black and the award-winning painter O Yemi Tubi. 

Please visit the Occhi Magazine and our new site Occhi Contemporary Arts for more info.

The Caribbean Fine Art Fair Goes Virtual!

This month I am pleased to exhibit in this year’s Caribbean Fine Art Fair (CaFA Fair) The organizers of the Caribbean Fine Art Fair (CaFA Fair) are ensuring the current pandemic does not bring the annual arts showcase to a halt.

From March 10 to 24, the work of over 70 prolific visual artists from the Caribbean and the Diaspora will be on display in a virtual gallery at Caribbean.global for the first time ever.

During the same period, seven emerging Barbadian artists will take centre stage at the Central Bank of Barbados’ Exchange Interactive Centre in an exhibit titled “Non-Traditional”. Members of the public can view by appointment the works of John Alleyne, Brandon K. Best, Alex Gibson, Housing Area, Sydney McConney, Chris Rocket, and Akilah Watts. The art in this exhibit will also be highlighted on the Caribbean.global website.

Simultaneously, the New York-based Calabar Gallery, Ebony Art Gallery and nine individual Diaspora artists will be showcased in “Diaspora Dialogue VIII”, an exhibit featuring artists from Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, the USA and Zambia.

The countries represented by participants in the 11th Annual CaFA Fair include Barbados, the Bahamas, Dominica, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the US Virgin Islands.

“This year, patrons will have full online access to artwork in a range of media. We will engage everyone with video content and enhance the exhibitions with virtual panels and presentations,” says Anderson Pilgrim, Executive Director of the CaFA Fair.

The events kick off on March 12 at 8:00 p.m. with the digital launch of the “Non-Traditional” exhibit, which is curated by Zoe Osbourne of Mahogany Culture. This will be followed by live discussions on March 13 and 14 at 2:00 p.m. with Osbourne and the participating artists.

The live discussions don’t end there. On March 20 at 2:00 p.m. I join interdisciplinary artist and anthropologist Alexis Alleyne-Caputo to lead a discussion with invited guests on the topic “Art in a Post-Digital COVID World”.

On March 24 at 5:00 p.m., CaFA Fair 2021 comes to a close with a live event.

All the events can be accessed free of cost, online at www.cafafair.com and www.caribbean.global.

The itinerary for this year’s Bridgetown International Arts Festival, which is slated for March 19 to 21, can also be found at www.cafafair.com.

CaFA Fair is one of the largest annual art exhibitions in the Caribbean and this year’s virtual fair is crafted to satisfy the needs of artists and art lovers alike.

For more information, please email info@cafafair.com.

 

In The Company of Inspiring Artists

This year appears to be going at speed! We’re now entering March and, before we know it, the spring will be upon us.  As the pandemic and lockdown continue, I have kept busy and occupied with a few projects and writing for Occhi Magazine. I’m sure you’d agree it’s very important to keep inspired whilst inspiring others.

I’ve had the enormous pleasure of speaking to a number of talented individuals in film & TV, music, and visual arts since my last entry. This includes LA-based  German composer, Thomas Eggensberger, Blues musician Robert Hokum, and emergent photographer Paul Fletcher.

German composer, orchestrator, and songwriter Thomas Eggensberger perfectly illustrates what it means to be a very talented artist who feeds on the opportunity to collaborate on new and exciting projects that challenge his creative boundaries. He has collaborated with a broad spectrum of creative artists in the  US, UK, and Germany, composing for film, television, and games, as well as concert music and collaborative art. Now based in Los Angeles, California, he is co-founder of the composer collective and sample library builders ‘Green Light District’.  We had the opportunity to discuss his career, Green Light District, and much more! Check out the full interview here.

The pleasure of being part of Occhi is meeting the many talented individuals who show commitment to the arts beyond their personal gains or commercial success. One person who should not go unrecognized is Robert Hokum. Robert has a rich history of showcasing artists and promoting the London Borough of Ealing as a creative hub. He has been on the British blues scene for some 50 years. His accolades and accomplishments include being a Director of the much-needed Ealing Club Community Interest Company, which seeks to build on Ealing’s iconic music heritage. He is the Artistic Director and Founder of the Ealing Blues Festival, which, since it was established in 1987, remains London’s longest-running Blues festival. He was also a founding committee member of The Hanwell Hootie, which has become one of London’s biggest free music festivals. With pleasure, I had the opportunity to catch up with Robert. This is the first of Occhi’s special series of Ealing Club Eclectic Interviews and streamed sessions with artists living or working in the London borough. Check out the full interview here.

Paul Fletcher is an emergent photographer worth keeping an eye on.  I had the pleasure of working with Paul in the construction sector over several years and, a few years ago, interviewed him for this blog on what was then his growing interest in photography. Influenced by his career in architecture, and interest in innovation, his emergent practice is driven by a voracious curiosity in people and how societies operate. Fully awoken through battles with mental health, and now the global coronavirus pandemic, his arresting work instinctively captures meaning whilst provoking interest in each theme explored.  He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Schumacher Institute, and now a patron of The Photographers’ Gallery in London. It was a great pleasure to catch up with him to discuss life during COVID-19, the trajectory of his practice, and more! Check out the full interview here.

As February comes to a close, I wish you and yours a great weekend and a safe and prosperous month ahead!

 

 

‘Colonial Currents: Black Women, Water, Trauma, and Baptism’ At The 15th National Black Writers Conference

The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York (CBL) presents the 15th National Black Writers Conference (NBWC2020). The conference, which started on Wednesday, runs until Saturday, November 14, 2020. The event, in association with Akila Worksongs, was rescheduled from its annually-held Spring dates due to COVID-19 and will be held virtually. This year’s theme, Activism, Identity, and Race: Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads, is a new focus for the Conference that boldly affirms and celebrates how the diaspora’s playwrights and screenwriters expand society’s understanding of Black life and the human experience. Forming part of an exciting program of events, anthropologist and interdisciplinary artist Alexis Alleyne-Caputo (Afro Diaries™) will present her short film titled  ‘Colonial Currents: Black Women, Water, Trauma, and Baptism’. 

Further to her previous projects exploring issues affecting black and brown communities, Alexis Alleyne Caputo’s project draws on current pertinent and intersecting issues, underscoring racial injustice, police brutality, climate change, COVID-19, and the global momentum supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.  The short film will be followed by a Q&A, which I have been invited to participate in.

Much reflection is given on how artists, activists, and educators can respond to the conference’s overall theme of activism, identity, and race whilst widening discussion, exploring solutions and disseminating findings beyond the conference’s virtual registrants. The artist who contributed to the project were Andria Thomas, Anasthasia Grand-Pierre, Cheryl Harrell, Desiree Parkman, Kashia Kancey, Maryann A. Payne-Benjamin, M.M.N. Caputo, Na’Talya Elizabeth Duhart, Shawna Watson, Shawnnette Longley (Rimidi), and Yolande Clark-Jackson.

Speaking on the eve of the conference Alexis Alleyne Caputo explains, ”This is a response to the conference theme of  Activism, Identity, and Race: Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads. The African American experience must be recorded and viewed from a wider lens, understanding similar or shared experiences of black people across the world. Milestones in history, our response, and the narrative of the African diaspora’s story matters. This is best served via the collaboration of literary and visual minds to celebrate our being and shape our future’’.

Other conference highlights include roundtable conversations, panel discussions, a town hall, film screenings, author readings, writing and playwrighting talk shops, a local vendor marketplace, and much more. The four-day virtual gathering brings together students, writers, artists, activists, scholars, literary professionals, theater and film giants, and other literature enthusiasts from near and far. The aim is to explore the challenges, rewards, and impact of working within the Black film and theater industries. Discussions will examine the ways that race, identity, politics, and popular culture shape the production of plays, films, and television shows.

For further information on Alexis Alleyne Caputo please visit https://alexiscaputo.com/

Click here for the program for the day.  For further information and bookings for the 15th National Black Writers Conference (NBWC2020) please visit https://centerforblackliterature.com

The featured image, courtesy of Alexis Alleyne Caputo  features Anasthasia Grand-Pierre (left) and  Maryann A. Benjamin (right)