New Brunswick Art Gallery Paints A Picture of Black History

by Nadirah A. Simmons

Photo of Mother and Child by Lanre Buraimoh, courtesy of Nadirah Simmons

Photo of Mother and Child by Lanre Buraimoh, courtesy of Nadirah Simmons

The Alfa Art Gallery is presenting its Black History Month exhibition, “Celebrating African American Heritage,” which will run until Feb. 25 and features works by African American and African artists in and around New Brunswick.

The Alfa Art Gallery’s mission is to “support emerging and well established artists” and “create a hub for New Jersey’s fine art painters, sculptors, book authors, musicians and actors and helps them get exposed to art collectors and visitors,” says its website.

And this Hub City exhibit certainly does that. The gallery’s 1,000 square feet of exhibition space is filled with an assortment of artwork.

“We not only have paintings, we have beadwork, we have the African sculptures we have collages, we have stained glass windows,” said Gallery Assistant Dianna Shypailo. “There is a whole variety of medium here.”

The African sculptures featured in the exhibit are from the Raskin Collection, a set of wooden and bronze statues, masks, religious, ritual and domestic objects, furniture and weapons assembled for more than 30 years by late tribal-art collector Yuri Raskin and his son Ilya Raskin, a current professor at Rutgers University. The collection includes pieces from African nations including Mali, Zaire, Guinea, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon and Kenya.

Photo of Endear by Roberta Rose, courtesy of Nadirah Simmons

Photo of Endear by Roberta Rose, courtesy of Nadirah Simmons

“(We) hope to inspire and enlighten the guests of the gallery on the deep-rooted extensions of African-American and Black Artists. Our primary focus on African-American artists will show how their culture continues to influence the identity and changing face of American Art,” reads the gallery description on its website.

The gallery’s description on its website says this collection of artwork parallels the mix of culture in New Brunswick.

“We really love to celebrate the diversity of the New Brunswick community so we felt like this would be a great way to get in touch with other members of the community and represent a minority group in art,” said Shypailo.

The gallery is located on 108 Church St. in downtown New Brunswick and admission is free.

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