Sunday, February 28, 2016

Catching Up on this Artistic Voyage

Something Positive performing at CCCADI's Trade/itions symposium at Aaron Davis Hall.

It's been quite a while since I wrote a real blog entry here. Truth be told, I have been going through some personal stuff which has occupied most of my time and attention. However, I've still managed to find some time to attend and/or participate in a few great events, which I would like to touch on here, as they relate to my Travesia Artistica (Artistic Voyage).

Firstly, a group of us (who originally met at a panel discussion about Cultural Equity at the Queens Council on the Arts last October [QCA]), have been coming together on a monthly basis, as the Steering Committee to create a new artists group in Queens. It's taken us a while to choose an official name, but at this point, it looks like we are leaning towards: Queens Creative Solidarity Network. We are working on our vision and mission statement now, and once it's done, I will surely be posting about our new group and inviting folks to participate! 

Also, the Carribean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) has been planning for their next study-abroad program Community Arts University Without Walls (CAUWW), of which I am an alum. They actually asked me to become an Ambassador, and of course I said yes! So I've helped out by attending two of their Open House sessions to give my first-hand (glowing) account of my experience last summer in Puerto Rico. 

Next, I have been to a number of art exhibitions, but one in particular that I would like to make mention of, is the Essentia exhibit at Taller Boricua (running from January 22nd through March 5th). This exhibition was curated by (a painter whose work I truly admire) Nitza Tufiño (who's a resident at Taller Boricua) and features the work of five fantastic female artists: Ada Pilar Cruz, Helen Evans Ramsaran, Maria Dominquez, Marina Gutierrez and Robin Holder. I went to the opening reception on January 22nd on a freezing cold Friday expecting a slow night, but boy was I wrong! The reception was very well-attended, complete with warm Puerto Rican food, wine and a DJ who got the crowd moving their hips. You can tell that Taller Boricua is a part of a close-knit community - and they know how to throw a party! The work by these five women, by the way, is definitely worth looking in to.

Last but not least, last month, CCCADI had put out that they were planning for a two-day symposium that looked so interesting to me, I was looking forward to it since then. To use their description:
Trade/itions is a two-day symposium event which will explore the points of Orisha intersections through an artistic, activist, and 21st Century lens. Principal demonstrations and social impacts of these global traditions will be shown – through music, dance, panel-dialogue sessions, and through the moving image. Programs and activities have been carefully curated to include expressions and holders of these traditions from throughout the Americas: Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and the United States.
So yesterday (February 27th) I set out on a long and arduous journey (thanks MTA!) up to Aaron Davis Hall at City College, to attend the all-day series of symposiums, capped off with a concert at night. It was really a glorious day full of positive energy, creativity and power; featuring some really brilliant minds and talented performers.

The symposia were as follows: Dialectical Dialogues and Kongo Konversations: Honoring the 35th Anniversary of Flash of the Spirit with Dr. Robert Farris Thompson; CCCADI Special Tribute: Honoring Iyalorisha Lourdes Lopez, Iyalorisha Amma McKen, Babalorisha John Mason, and Dr. Robert Farris Thompson; and Panel: Orisha as Activist: Recharging Our Purpose, Utilizing Our Power, moderated by Elizabeth Yeampierre and panelists Karla N. Moore, Alex LaSalle, Lumumba Bandele and Dr. Sheriden Booker. Then there was the Evening Performance: Trade/itions: In Honor of Our Orishas with Baba Neil Clarke with Iyesá Drum ensemble, featuring Akpon, Amma McKen; Master Cuban Percussionist, Roman Diaz and Ensemble, and from Trinidad, Something Positive. [There was also a Sunday portion of Trade/itons (which I was unable to attend) featuring a Film Screening Premiere: Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil with a post-film screen panel moderated by Angela Fontanez and panelists Donna Roberts, Paulo Bispo, Amma McKen, and Dr. Cheryl Sterling; and then a Roundtable Discussion: NextGen: Legacy, and Living in Orisha, moderated by Dowoti Desir and panelists Marinieves Alba, Ayanda Clarke, Danny Rodriguez, and Funlayo E. Wood.]

After a long Saturday at Trade/itions there was one sentence that Dr. Robert Farris Thompson said that seemed to burn into my brain... when discussing his book, Aesthetic of the Cool, he said something to the effect of, "No matter how cool you are, there will be a time when you have to activate," use your fire. That gave me a lot to think about and it seemed to fit in with the overall energy and intention of the symposium.

I'm really grateful to have had the opportunity to bear witness to each of these amazing events, behold beautiful artwork, meet with interesting people and all the while, learn something new. Until next time!

(To see more photos, goto my Instagram @whippedhoney.)

Curator of Essentia, Nitza Tufiño introducing the featured artists at Taller Boricua.

Opening reception of Essentia at Taller Boricua.

Painting by Maria Dominguez at Essentia exhibit. 

Sculpture by Ada Pilar Cruz at the Essentia exhibit.

Trade/itions symposium - Dialectical Dialogues and Kongo Konversations: Honoring the 35th Anniversary of Flash of the Spirit with Dr. Robert Farris Thompson.

Trade/itions symposium.

Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, founder of CCCADI at Trade/itions symposium.

Trade/itions symposium.

Trade/itions symposium - Panel: Orisha as Activist: Recharging Our Purpose, Utilizing Our Power, moderated by Elizabeth Yeampierre and panelists Karla N. Moore, Alex LaSalle, Lumumba Bandele and Dr. Sheriden Booker.

Trade/itions symposium - In Honor of Our Orishas with Baba Neil Clarke with Iyesá Drum ensemble,  featuring Akpon, Amma McKen.

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