Marta Moreno Vega is a woman who wears many hats. She is co-founder of Corredor Afro, President of Creative Justice Initiative, the founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) and second President of Museo del Barrio in New York City.

We sat with Marta to discuss her accomplishments, and what’s next in her mission to preserve Puerto Rico’s African influence.

Travel Noire: What is the mission behind Corredor Afro?

Marta: Corredor Afro speaks to the process of decolonizing the mind and building action and creativity, culturally grounded in the value systems and aesthetics that honor our history, legacy and brilliance in Puerto Rico and the globe. I like to think of Corredor Afro as a crossroads. The idea
is to bridge the pieces of the puzzle that have been distributed around the world because of enslavement and before enslavement, understanding the accomplishments our people have made around the world.

Look for example at the work of Ivan Van Sertima, They Came Before Columbus (1976). His book shows that there were Africans in the Americas before enslavement. It’s important that we continue making those truths central to the discussion, aesthetic, and vocabulary that we use as an African people.

Photo Courtesy of Casa Afro

Corredor is a local and international multi-use space that will include a gallery, and host silkscreen, mosaic and ceramic workshops. The upstairs will have an artist residency and research residency. It’s a cross-section, multidisciplinary and anthropological in terms of its vision, looking at centering an African aesthetic and thought process that is global.

Travel Noire: How did your work at the Museo Del Barrio in NYC inspire this new journey?

Marta: Museo del Barrio started my journey into understanding my family and self. It is the beginning of my research and institution building, which is imperative to assure that we created organizations culturally grounded and built by our communities in service to our communities.

The trajectory has led to being part of the building of the Association of Hispanic Arts, Global Afro Latin Caribbean Initiative, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institution and now the Creative Justice Initiative and co-founding Corredor Afro.

Travel Noire: How do we connect Puerto Rico back to its African roots through art?

Marta: Understanding that enslavement ended late in the process of abolition— makes present spirituality, memory, practices, traditions that are infused with West African and Congo culture in Puerto Rico todayh. Some practices are apparent while others need to be researched and documented.

Art is a different language, a language that connects to the core of a common experience. Through art, we communicate things that we are unable to do with language or other means. Art is a vehicle of amplifying language, an experiential way of connecting through the senses and the heart.

Travel Noire: What’s next for your personal journey and the future of Corredor Afro? 

Marta: Corredor, as a safe space for creativity, has endless possibilities. BOf immediate focus is to ensure that we honor those that have paved the road for our present work, our community elders, honor our warrior events that assured our presence, artists who celebrated our Black artists when the island refused to prove space. We are clear that we need to continue the work of others into the future, so that others will continue the work after us.

Related: Puerto Rico’s African Influence And Culture, And How To Experience It