Photo Credit: Eric Edwards Shows BP Reynoso Around the Exhibit | Courtesy of Brooklyn Borough Hall
Brooklyn Borough Hall Reopens "Brooklyn is Africa" Exhibit
In collaboration with Eric Edwards and the Cultural Museum of African Art (CMAA), the exhibit conveys the story of “Survival + Persistence = Resistance” through 35 rare and historical African art pieces and relics from the borough’s diaspora. Visitors will have the opportunity to examine art dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries and other unique items, such as a 19th century Yoruba palace door from Nigeria. The work was carved by one of the most celebrated Yoruba sculptors of the 20th century, Olowe of Ise (ca. 1873 – 1938).
Brooklyn has a large African-American, so this event was important. For New York residents, this exhibition shows the rich history and tradition of their culture. Through ‘Brooklyn is Africa’, visitors are able to gain a greater appreciation for the history of African art, as well as its impact on Brooklyn.
“Art is storytelling,” Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso said. “Art is beauty, courage and love, but more than anything, art is resistance and perseverance.”
Reynoso said that the “Brooklyn is Africa” exhibit is about honoring the people of the African diaspora who have made a home in Brooklyn, despite how long they have been there.
“The stories of African ancestors have survived erasure and persecution through art and artifacts — and Eric Edwards’ collection of pieces helps us celebrate the mark all of Africa has made on the world of today,” Reynoso added.
Brooklyn is Africa: The Cultural Museum of African Art’s Opening Reception
Over 250 people attended the exhibit’s opening night reception, which featured performances by the Patsy Grant and Friends jazz trio and the Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet. The Jamal Gaines Creative Outlet performed a dance, titled “Thank You,” which commemorated the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington and recognized the 60th anniversary of the Birmingham Church bombing.
“We are very thankful for the support of the Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, and the opportunity to serve the people of New York City, and in particular Brooklyn,” said Eric Edwards, who is the founder and executive director of the Cultural Museum of African Art. “We appreciate the opportunity for allowing us to provide a deep insight, through CMAA’s artifact collection, of the contributions of Africa and the diaspora, to man and womankind.”
CMAA aims to bring attention to African-American art and culture by carrying with them a vast amount of diversity and creativity that have been present in Brooklyn for centuries. Whether it was for religious, spiritual, protective, secretive, potent, beautiful, educational, or practical reasons, each artifact has an inspiration. Some of those driving forces are discussed as part of this historic endeavor because, through art, one can learn about African culture and history.
Edwards’ journey took more than 50 years. During that time, he carefully chose these one-of-a-kind artifacts that date back more than 4,000 years and represent all 54 African countries. His lifelong endeavor has resulted in a stunning collection that is more than just a reflection of African history. It serves as an educational tool, providing insight into the unique cultures and traditions that make up the continent
The CMAA is a testament to Eric Edwards’ immense dedication to preserving and celebrating African culture.
About Borough Hall
Brooklyn Borough Hall was established in the 18th century and is New York City’s oldest City Hall. Brooklyn Borough Hall is the Civic Center’s centerpiece, and one of Brooklyn’s most important government buildings. The city’s most extensive endeavor to restore the exterior, which had decayed, began in the 1980s. The award-winning work includes stonework restoration, cupola copper shingle replacement, main roof stainless steel cladding, and clock and tower maintenance.