Charlotte Libov -- Miami Artzine
The City of Opa-locka will host “Art of Transformation,” a contemporary art fair smack dab in the center of the city, to provide art lovers with the opportunity to see –and hear – from some of the best Black artists working in Africa, Haiti and the Diaspora.
“Art of Transformation,” which runs Thursday, Dec. 1 through Sunday, Dec. 4, is a free event, which encompasses three different exhibits.
The event, which takes place largely along a three-block area located in the center of the city, coincides with Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami Art Week and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Art of Black Miami, 2022.
In addition to the art displayed, there will also be artists' talks, films screening, musical performances, and a closing block party and concert.
“We are not trying to create a ‘Black Art Basel,’ but we are a Black community, and we are exhibiting internationally known artists, and we partnered with other organizations to try and expand the conversation much wider,” says Tumelo Mosaka, the curator of “This Here Place: Africa and the Global Diaspora,” one of the three exhibits that make up “The Art of Transformation.”
“This is the week where there are going to be a lot of people coming to Miami to view art. We are not expecting them all to come to Opa-locka, but, for those who do, we want to show them how our city is changing,” he added.
In addition to “This Here Place: Africa and the Global Diaspora,” the other two exhibits are “A Beautiful Human Love,” and “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born.”
“This Here Place: Africa and the Global Diaspora,” showcasing works from the OLCDC’s art collection, brings together six international artists, including African Masters Abdoulaye Konaté from Mali, Senegalese Viyé Diba, and Barthélémy Toguo from Cameroon, says Mosaka.
“I’ve been working for about eight-to-10 years developing this collection of artworks, and, for this exhibit, I wanted to showcase the most recent acquisitions we’ve made. The works we will be showing will be the works of masters from the continent of Africa, with a theme of showing how we are all connected,” he adds.
“A Beautiful Human Kind of Love,” co-curated by Jimmy Moise and Jean Jacques, takes its name from “La Belle Amor,” which is a novel that’s being written by a Haitian novelist Jack Stephan Alexes, says Moise. (Jacques is Alexes’ son).
The exhibit is designed to showcase Haitian art, with masterworks from the beginning of Haitian art, on through the 1940s and ‘50’s, continuing to the contemporary artists of today, he says.
“In the beginning, Haitian artists were classified as naïve, or not sophisticated, but they were not unsophisticated; they were doing all kinds of abstract and representational art that was a very high order. The problem is that they were being boxed in a jar, and told ‘you will not be getting out of that jar.' " Adds Moise,” “We have proven otherwise.”
Alfonso Brooks, curator of “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born,” began searching for artwork immediately after the close of last year’s Art Week in December.
“We’ve been traveling to art fairs all over the world, to Morocco, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Cuban, Jamaica, Cameroon, and the U.S., to see what was happening right now, and who we could bring to Miami,” he says.
The title of the exhibit, “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born,” comes from a novel by Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Arma about a man who was incorruptible, says Brooks.
“We are highlighting the diversity of our people, and how far we have come, and in doing so, we are acknowledging the beauty of creation here, and also into the next generation,” says Brooks.
“Through the arts, people can understand the beauty that we are, and the work that we are doing. For too long, others controlled us, but we are here to shift the paradigm – We are beautiful, we are the ones, we are doing the work, we have the literary arts, we have beautiful performers and amazing visual art,” Adds Brooks, “This is about the convergence of the world of Black art being brought to Art Basel.”
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