ABSOLUTAMENTE NEGRO/A/X – THE EXHIBITION
This collaborative exhibition highlights the African presence in our islands and the Diaspora colonized by the Spanish Empire. The works speak to racial and cultural bonds we share despite the colonial oppressive countries that took possession of our islands.
The spirit of our ancestors continue to speak whether we were forcibly taken to Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, St. Croix, and other locations or pushed to migrate/immigrate to the Diaspora.
The power of intentionality in choosing to acknowledge, document and stand in the power of our continued promise to survive and bravely stand to assure a destiny for our Afro-Futuro that is a brave magnificent journey that has yet to be fully told and actualized.
Absolutamente Negro/a/x – the Exhibition continues to examine the aesthetic, racial and cultural linkages that the forced enslavement and dispersal by colonial European governments imposed on Africans from West and Central Africa during the 15th-19th centuries. The mass complexities of stories forged by the imposition of European cultures on the wide range of ethnic African cultural groups committed to sustaining our historical memories, sacred practices, philosophical perspectives, aesthetic intelligence, and climate protective knowledge has formed a praxis of varied methods that some call a cultural clash but in the understanding of the organizers of this historic exhibition affirms that we are liked in St. Croix, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Cuba and other global locations. Therefore, we are committed to continue our work together with the assistance of our elders, communities, scholars, educators, sacred leaders, committed allies and artists to re-encounter ourselves and forge the unifying linkages to tell our monumental stories. The experiences that mirror our individual and collective journeys serves to ground us in understanding our histories and legacies and define our multiple identities, as we seek to frame our futures, while knitting together the complexity of who we are now and to become.
As Africans/African descendants acknowledging and dealing with centuries of accumulated agricultural knowledge, building city-states, governing systems, architectural systems, constructing pyramids, sacred knowledge weaving climate justice and social systems we recreated family, community, and resistance against oppression in the Diaspora.
The many achievements forged long before brutal enslavement must be understood as the information that was/is essential to the continued formation of the Americas.
This exhibition sets the frame for our future work together bridging the racial and cultural documentation essential to overriding the colonial languages, Eurocentric aesthetic criteria and oppressive untrue histories and systems that have divided us. When we look at the history of St. Croix and Puerto Rico, we must acknowledge the history of our people bravely seeking freedom running away from enslavement in canoes, carved wooden surf like boards to escape to Puerto Rico. In brief these brave women and men from Africa and some born on the islands primarily from St. Croix and St. Thomas were the founders of the Black free town and legal municipality of Cangrejos in Puerto Rico today Santurce. Today their children on the islands and in the Diaspora are coming together as family seeing we reflected in each other.
Yes, we are family! Look at the visual images of this exhibition expressed by our artists from different locations yet speaking the same aesthetic language. Honors to their vision of us, their lasting memories, and cultural hearts. Let your cultural heartbeat with theirs as one because our work together will prove it is so.
Gracias. Thank You for joining us in this groundbreaking exhibition of visionary artists from Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Afro Latin Diaspora of New York City. The message of this exhibition is clear. We are uniting in multiple ways that will celebrate our creativity that honors the Afro aesthetic knowledge that binds us and as we move collaborate on connecting our histories and the overlapping cultural experiences that unite our experiences from a truth telling perspective.
A special thank you to Wilfred W. Labiosa, Board Member of CMCArts. His outreach to Creative Justice Initiative’s team sparked a chain of conversations that have led to this bridging of aesthetic voices grounded in similar legacies.
Special thanks for the commitment of all that have contributed to this exceptional aesthetic unification especially the artists that accepted the invitation.
Creative Justice Initiative Team/Tribu:
Celso Gonzalez, Curator & Artist in Resident
Adrian Roman, Visiting Diaspora Curator
Olga Chapman Rivera, Communications Coordinator
Marta Moreno Vega, PhD, CJI Coordinator & Facilitator
Wilfred W. Labiosa, PhD, Board Member, Facilitator & Curator
Lisa Mordhorst, Executive Director
Lavonne Wise, Director of Development
Board of Directors & Staff of CMCArts