Growing up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn I have always felt connected to my heritage. In my house there was always El Gran Combo playing on the stereo, spanish novelas on the TV, late nights spent preparing pasteles for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and time spent with an abuelita who only spoke spanish despite living here for over 40 years. I am Afro-Latina! The product of a Black Puerto Rican born mother and a White Brooklyn born of Puerto Rican descent father. I am American born but my spirit is and always will be made up of all of my ancestors and all of those who came before me.
I am proud to be a part of a culture that is a fusion of African, Taino, and European descent. A culture that is defined not only by our physical beauty because we come in many shapes, sizes, skin tones, and hair types but also by our passion and undeniable dedication to that which is important to us. We are artistic, educated, socially and politically aware, and our contributions to the world have left some of the best legacies. We are a gumbo of spices that once ingested only leaves you wanting more.
This was how I felt when I attended the opening ceremony of the Afro-Latino American Crossroads Exhibit that took place on Wednesday, February 16th at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center – Abrazo Interno Gallery in NYC. The show which was the brainchild of curator Mia Roman Hernandez, was a collection of some of the best artistic expression I have ever seen.
The art is a cultural, political, and religious reflection of our history. From pieces like the one of the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz, to the piece where we see a mother with her child on her back , the show that is described as “A tribute to the She-roes and Heroes of Afro-Latino American culture thru the Arts”, was that and so much more.
With the spiritual blessing of the space by Maximus to the live drumming, dancing, and poetry the exhibit served as a link and reminder of our roots. It was a colorful representation of the Afro-Latino diaspora and its rich history, a history that should never be forgotten so that we can appreciate how far we have come.
The room was full of love, joy, and postive energy. This is an exhibit that should be seen by all if you have a true interest and love for the arts even moreso if you are of Afro-Latino descent. The exhibit is ongoing through Friday, February 25, 2011.
Exhibit information is below:
Curator Mia Roman Hernandez, is a Puerto Rican-American (NuyoRican) New York based artist, teaching artist, lecturer, entrepreneur , founder of the women’s creative network Chamaca Arts and participant of the Afro – Latino American Crossroads Art Exhibit.
Date: February 16, 2011-February 25, 2011
Exhibiting Artists: Dylcia Pagan, Mia Roman Hernandez, Yasmin Hernandez, Helene Ruiz, Pete Rodriguez, Juan Carlo Suazo, Ezequiel Jimenez, Amanda Mathews, Nia Siacara Andino, Jose Rios, Marthalicia Matarrita