A Resilient Space for Diversity: JCU hosts African Art Gallery

John Cabot University hosted an “African Art Gallery” event organized by The Africans in the World Cultural Club, on November 21, 2018. The event focused on the importance of African art, music, and food in order to raise awareness of the African Community at John Cabot University.

 African Art Gallery

African Art Gallery

The night was a mix of music, fashion, art, and dance. Dean of Academic Affairs Mary Merva gave welcoming remarks before leaving the floor to the club’s advisor, Communications professor Kwame Phillips, who highlighted “the importance of the African Community and of the creation of a resilient space where students could freely express themselves.”

An Economics and Finance major, Resident Assistant Lenora Biche, from Cameroon, gave the first performance, a speech called “Ain’t I a Woman?” delivered by anti-slavery speaker Sojourner Truth at a women’s convention in Ohio in 1851. Then, the first open mic session took place, kicked off by Zimbabwean student Chiedza Mashonganyika, an International Affairs major who sang a traditional song from her home country.

International Affairs student and writer Phendli Proux, from Haiti, read a poem he wrote about pizza Margherita, which serves as a metaphor for his identity in Rome. Italian American student Stella Militello-Belgrave, majoring in Communications, read a poem she wrote called “Where Are You From?” which also talks about identity.

The contemporary African fashion show was next, where a number of students showcased various clothing items. The second open mic session took place right after, and Communications student John Chege sang an a cappella song that he wrote. The last performance was delivered by the president of The Africans in the World Cultural Club, Italian Liberian student Anna Maria Gehnyei, who is also known by her stage name Karima 2G. Karima, who is a double major in Political Science and Communications, sang two of her songs, “Orangutan” and “Bunga Bunga” for the audience.

Contemporary African Fashion Show

Contemporary African Fashion Show

The night continued with the showcasing of the works of two artists based in Rome. The work of Ivorian artist Boris Akeem Aka consisted of 7 paintings with African subjects and made with pen, ink, and watercolors on paper. Aka has a particular interest in introspection, working with words and decorative art. The theme of this exhibition was “Afro,” and  Aka’s aim was “to illustrate the different skin tones and hair textures of Africans and African American people.” Most of the subjects that Aka used are close friends or public figures. Juju Stile, the second artist, is a young Italian woman who showcased a mix of paintings, fabrics, jeans jackets, and handbags with African illustrations.

After the art exhibit, food from Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, and Cameroon was served and the night ended with dancing to African music. The African Art Gallery was a success, and the club hopes to organize another one next semester.

“I am proud of the success of the event and the opportunity it afforded the students to present who they are through their culture,” said Professor Phillips.