Afrocentricity: New African-American Contemporary Art Exhibit Opens at RIVAA on Roosevelt Island

Late last month, I got to talk a little bit to Jersey City artists like Darin DeField, Ricardo Osmondo Francis and Nuradeen about a show DeField curated for Black History Month on Roosevelt Island. I wrote this article about the exhibit for the Jersey City Independent.

A reception for “Afrocentricity” was held at the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA) Gallery was held on Feb. 2, but the show will be up through Feb. 24, so go see it while you can!

Also, Francis has a solo show in Jersey City at the 32 Jones Gallery, where he has curated several shows. “The Man as Lifetime,” which shows his exploration of masculinity and spirituality, opens on Feb. 17. You can read more about it on JCI here.

Afrocentricity: New African-American Contemporary Art Exhibit Opens at RIVAA on Roosevelt Island

"Afrocentricity" by Darin DeField

Several locals are being highlighted in a New York art gallery’s Black History Month exhibition.

“Afrocentricity,” curated by Jersey City’s own Darin DeField, will celebrate African-American contemporary art at the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA) Gallery. The show aims to shine light on the theory of African epistemological relevance to the African Diaspora as well as look at how ideas, materials, craft, color and patterns from traditional African art can also be found in African-American art.

DeField, who grew up on Roosevelt Island with his family and had his first solo art show at the Eastwood Community Room there in 1989, says this exhibit features a variety of views on and voices of Black art.

“My concept of the Afrocentricity exhibition has been interpreted differently by various people interested in the issues around Black art,” DeField says in his curator’s statement.

“Our nation has approach a turning point in its existence, unlike anything seen before and the effects are being felt by citizens of every color, religion, ethnicity and sexual proclivity. It therefore should be determined, that art produce by a black artist or artists that arrives at an ‘Afro style’ belongs to the entire world and not just to people who are descendants of the African Diaspora and should not be subject to the stereotype ‘Black Art,’” he says.

"Faith" by Ricardo Osmondo Francis

Ricardo Osmondo Francis, perhaps best known to JC residents as the curator of 32 Jones Gallery, says he doesn’t consider himself an “African-American” artist (he’s half African-American, half Panamanian), but his work is partially inspired by his background as a Black man.

“For me only life and art inspires my work. My work is inspired from all types of sources and that’s usually not based on just one style or culture,” he says. “The paintings I have in this exhibit do question the social constructs of Black men and the complexity of their existence. To me, as a Black man, the question of masculinity is both a social and personal one and is an integral part of my work.”

(Francis has his own solo show coming up at 32 Jones Gallery, this time curated by Levan Mindiashvili, called “The Man as Lifetime.” It also depicts the social constructs of masculinity and continues exploring other themes and ideas that have captured his attention like animals, still-life, personal identity, etc. It opens on Feb. 9.)

"Spirit I" by Papa Gora Tall

Other NJ-based participating artists include Ibou Ndoye, Justin Vann Walden, Marj Bingham, Ronnie Mae Pointer, Papa Gora Tall and Nuradeen. Guests can also see work by Adrian Garcia, Gallene McGhee St. Amand, Steven Harris and Bianca Dorsey.

While DeField says his primary goal for the exhibit is to showcase the talents of these artists and allow them to “pursue their craft, and to preserve the rich legacy of Art for the world’s future generations,” there are certain ideas he wants to emphasize for the viewing public.

“We must remember that this exhibition of works is a chronicle of our past and present lives and experiences,” he says in his curator’s letter. “There is a strong need to awaken the broader American audience to the richness, vitality and vision of the African Diaspora fine art movement.”

“Afrocentricity” opens Saturday, Feb. 2 with a reception at 6 pm at the RIVAA Gallery, 527 Main St., Roosevelt Island. The gallery is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 pm to 5 pm, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6 pm to 8 pm and on weekends from 11 am to 5 pm. The show is open through Feb. 24.

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About Summer Dawn Hortillosa

Summer Dawn Hortillosa is a journalist specializing in arts and entertainment. Among other things, she is also an award-winning playwright, director, singer-songwriter and actress. Her work has been seen in The Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal and other publications.
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