Bridging the gap between Africans on the continent and those in the diaspora, is the work that has brought two seasoned artists — one from the United States and the other Kenya — to collaborate.
It is a collaboration that has been in the making for 10 years, finally bearing fruit with “Nu Africans.”
Rolling out spoke with the executive director at Hammonds House Museum, Leatrice Ellzy Wright, about the museum’s latest exhibit.
What makes the Nu Africans special?
Well, there are a few things. Maurice Evans and Grace Kisa are both artists in the community, but this is the first show they’ve worked collaboratively. The collaboration is a big deal. I’m really glad that we [Hammonds House Museum] have the opportunity to unveil it.
The second thing that makes this special is the work. The work is beautiful. They’re really paying homage to black women. There is also this idea of new Africans — this idea that African people who have been tossed around the diaspora, really do have different traditions and different ideas. Although, we all consider ourselves African, there’s a lot of differences, as well as, similarities. Maurice’s and Grace’s idea is that African people have created new Africa, in spaces where they have found themselves. So whether it’s in Atlanta, the Caribbean, Brazil, or wherever African people have found themselves, they have created new customs and new ideas.
How would you describe this work?
I love the dimensions of how he [Evans] takes photography and uses it with all the mixed media. You’ve got a little photography, a little printmaking and you’ve got it on wood. There’s a lot of elements that are blended into each piece. Grace has adorned these women, they wanted to make them like warriors [and] queens, and have been able to accomplish that. The technique used in the creation of the work is on point. As I said, it’s just beautiful work. To be totally honest … the images that you’ve seen are the same images that I’ve seen, and when I saw the work in person, I was totally blown away. These images just do not do the work any justice.
For me the work is very Afro-futuristic. Would you agree with that?
You’re absolutely right. It’s very afro futuristic, while also very obviously steeped in the continent. It is so Afro-futuristic, but yet also steeped in the past, which is a kind of afro-futurism. This past, present, future of Black people— it’s all of those things.
How has it been for you, working at the Hammonds House?
It’s been great working at the Hammonds House. I have always been a collaborative partner with the Hammonds House for many years, especially my years working at the National Black Arts Festival. However, to take the helm has meant something. There’s something about legacy here. The Hammonds House has only had three directors, so there’s a pride in being one of the three.
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