Festive colors of the Caribbean in diverse media — paintings, photography and sculpture – are on display at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center.
The exhibit, which highlights Caribbean-American Heritage Month, demonstrates the common thread of fairytales, myths, superstitions and traditions of the Caribbean islands, as brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans. Evident is the bond uniting Caribbean islanders with the African Diaspora in the United States.
“The concept we are trying to show is that, even though we are all out of the Caribbean, this is our world and we are all related,” said Dulcie Ingleton, the exhibit’s designer and curator.
In 2006, Congress designated June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month in recognition of the invaluable contributions of Caribbean Americans to American prosperity.
The library kicked off its cultural recognition of the month with the exhibit, titled “Colors of the Caribbean.’’
“The mission of the library is that we portray as much as possible the African Diaspora. When you are talking about the Caribbean, you are talking about a lot of people in South Florida. So, it fosters our mission of educating our people on the contributions of people of the African Diaspora,” said Julie Hunter, the library’s acting director.
The special exhibit is sponsored by the nonprofit Caribbean American Heritage of Florida organization. The group aims to create awareness of Caribbean-American history and to promote unity among diverse cultures.
“It’s OK to be who you are. That’s what Caribbean Heritage month is about. It shows how important the influence of Caribbean nationals are to this country and showcases our culture,” said Trinidadian native and WPLG Channel 10 news anchor Neki Mohan, who hosted the June 1 opening event for the exhibit at the library.
The work of the featured artists – Kennis Baptiste, Carlton Murrell, Stanwyck E. Cromwell, Lincoln Perry, David Wilson, Emile Morrison, Anthony Bonair, Winston Huggins and Robert Reid — reflects a common ancestry through similarity of artistic theme.
Stanwyck Cromwell’s use of vibrant colors and symbols, overlaid upon subjects as diverse as fruit and fishlike faces, demonstrates imaginative depth. In “Thoughts of Home,” Cromwell captures Guyana’s tropical landscape, recreating a memorable portrait of his homeland.
“I like to do a lot of abstract work because it allows the viewer more room to think. There’s no right or wrong. It’s based upon what you see and how you interpret it,” Cromwell said.
Murrell captures his native Barbados through landscape images. Country cottages, the Caribbean Sea, and traditional lifestyle motifs are seen in his “Transporting Sugarcane,” and
“Fun in the Park” works.
Mythical creatures dominate the work of Perry, a Guyanese immigrant. His “Massacoura Man,” a floating water spirit that attracts and drowns children, illustrates a folkloric method used to frighten and protect children from water danger.
Some of the artwork is for sale, with most individual pieces ranging from $500 to $3,000.
In addition to the art exhibition, programs are planned throughout June to showcase Caribbean film, cuisine, and music—featuring soca and calypso singers. Alison Hinds, Calypso Rose, and Lord Superior are scheduled to perform.
“We are Afrikins (African kin). We are all related and coming from the same place. The African-American Research Library and Cultural Center is the perfect place to have this exhibition so we can all come together and love each other,” Ingleton said.