I begun the year with three simple rules: Grow, Experiment and Share. It was not a new way of being but a commitment to my life’s work.
Years ago, Deirdre Scott, Executive Director of the Bronx Council of the Arts, a good friend and colleague and I discussed Africa with the explosion of its people arriving to the Bronx. We wondered out loud about it and in time, we came to several dialogues on doing an exhibition at Longwood Gallery. This was the roots of Bronx: Africa.
It became an opportunity to grow for both LeRonn Brooks and I, to define and mark our footprints in this territory. It was also for the artists selected a place to convene their work under a platform that talked about Africa in a contemporary way and stretched the imagination.
Most importantly, it gave Longwood Gallery and the Bronx Council a way to bring in a new audience, an African one. Bronx:Africa arrived to grow ideas, concepts, and most importantly, to educate the Bronx and New York City about Africans and to educate Africans about what the Bronx Council can offer to Africans. This project spoke directly to synergies, alliances and affiliations.
As a creator and catalyst for change, I often conceive projects years back and wait to release it because the timing when it was developed was not right. That is the case for The Gallery at Calabar which I quietly launched in April at Calabar Imports in Harlem.
It is a space to experiment with ideas about African art, a place to convene a community and most importantly, a place to sell the work of African and African diaspora artists. It is also a space of curating work with a particular perspective and a collaborative space to let artists speak. These spaces are slowly disappearing in New York City, and it’s important to make it available. I look forward to creating synergies, alliances and affiliations for this space.
Since the advent of Facebook, the word “share” often gets used frequently but to do it in the context of one’s life work is challenging and requires finding people who really understand it as a way of being.
I have been lucky to bring several people into my realm who are sharers. It is how I got to curate the Amref Artball. A good friend shared “me” and my expertise. Apparently, I came highly recommended. I am not surprised but it’s nice to say it publicly. My work and ethic speak volumes. In the months so far, it has revealed what synergies, alliances and affiliations can do to grow an idea.
These three concepts embody the way I have been working but it is vital to recognize how they work for me. Life is about experiences and they make my life fuller. What are your synergies, alliances and affiliations?