Monday, December 12, 2011

African Diaspora Panel by Jennifer Kay

On Dec. 3, at the peak of Art Basel Miami Beach, a panel of artists, educators and Miami community leaders met at the Little Haiti Cultural Center to discuss African Diaspora art. 
Among the panelists were Iris PhotoCollective’s Carl Juste and Andre Chung. Other panelists at the symposium entitled “Miami Crossroads: Developing the African Diaspora Art Footprint” included Marshall Davis of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, educator Frank Glover, Miami-Dade County community relations leader Larry Capp, Afro-Cuban artist Jose Orbein, artist Bayunga Kialeuka, artist and educator Gene Tinnie, and Marvin Weeks, an artist and member of the city of Miami’s Arts and Entertainment Council. 
The panel considered how to support artists from the African Diaspora, and how to help them make bigger gains in the art marketplace. To make progress, the panel suggested that artists collaborate to educate the public and art collectors, to promote their work and exhibits, to stage their own expos and gallery shows when art fairs shut them out and to support elected officials who work to support the arts.
One hot topic that invited passionate responses from the audience focused on promoting arts centers and galleries in neighborhoods such as Little Haiti or Overtown, which are challenged by the stigma of crime and poverty. If people are afraid to venture into unfamiliar and stigmatized neighborhoods, what can artists do to promote arts events in those neighborhoods or include those neighborhoods in the local arts scene? Again, the solution seemed to be collaboration, reaching out to local businesses and community leaders to help promote arts facilities and events.
The unifying theme of the symposium was “do-it-yourself.” Artists need to promote their individual brands and network to get the word out about art the large fairs such as Art Basel Miami Beach are missing.
Afterward, Iris PhotoCollective’s Carl Juste gave a tour of the IPC Visual Lab’s “Guerrilla Gallery.” The expo of student work -- curated, printed and hung in just a week in the Little Haiti Cultural Center -- illustrated the do-it-yourself initiative advocated by the panelists. Here’s a link to the video: 

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