First, a little history - during the 1600’s, groups of escaped and shipwrecked African slaves made their way to St Vincent Island, an island of the Lesser Antilles, the islands that form eastern side of the Caribbean Sea. They mixed with the indigenous Caribs and Arawaks and the Garinagu (that’s plural for Garifuna) were born. They developed a unique language, culture and ritual. Drumming and dance had a central place in the culture.
the global africa project
Have you heard of the YA/YAs of New Orleans? No, I don’t mean the “Divine Sisterhood” of movie fame, but the organization (Young Aspirations/ Young Artists) whose mission is to “empower creative young people to become successful adults.” Founded over twenty years ago by Jana Napoli this organization works to give the youth of New Orleans “educational experiences in arts” and encourage “entrepreneurship…by fostering and supporting their ambitions.”
This is not your little cousin Muffie's Barbie - not at all. With his limited-edition figurines for Mattel, Fashion Designer Byron Lars plays around with the legendary plastic style icon, keeping all the prerequisite Barbie musts intact - pointy 'Barbie' toes, beyond-perfect makeup, posture, and figure - whilst deftly playing around with her overall style dna.
ED: Dr. Arturo Lindsay, is a Professor of Art & Art History at Spelman College, GA At the Artist Market of the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta this summer I was admiring a silver ring that a vendor was showing me when all of a sudden a burst of brilliant colors emanating from the adjacent stall distracted me, demanded my attention and forced me to walk away from the silver vendor. The brilliant colors were coming from BaBaBlankets’ stall.
The relationship between Black people and our hair has always been a many layered one. Awe-inspiring at best - and mind-boggling at worst - the hair as a medium of self-expression can be simultaneously representative and abstract; take a look at American comedian Chris Rock's recent documentary, 'Good Hair', and you'll see what I mean.
In my first entry for this blog I posed a series of questions raised by The Global Africa Project. One of them was “How do we define “African” in this age of nomadic and migratory identities?” Serge Mouangue, the Cameroonian designer working in Japan, wrote eloquently in the last Global Africa post about how he copes with the multiple experiences he’s had in Cameroon, France, Australia and Japan.
[ED: Lisa Marie Harris is a Curatorial Intern at the Museum of Arts and Design] As a fashion-loving Curatorial Intern working on the Global Africa Project, I often find myself drifting off into stylish daydreams whenever I gather artist and designer information for the exhibition. It's difficult to focus solely on compiling info when some of my artist research also involves ogling patterned, wax-bonded materials and African-influenced fashion!
The interest in Africa today is the most focused and proactive that it has ever been, and so it would seem the timing of the Global Africa Project was precipitous. The sheer amount of talent, product and activity that is emanating from Africa, from Africans in Europe, North and South America, the Caribbean and Asia is astounding and makes organizing this exhibition a challenge.
Speaking of the African dimension in design, I would recommend the exhibition Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens, currently on view at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. This wonderful project, curated by Wendy Grossman, not only examines how photography positioned and influenced the reception of African art among the cognoscenti and the general public, but also how African jewelry and fabrics became chic fashion items in the period between the wars.