Africa Center in East Harlem promotes African culture, business and policy at the intersection of modern Africa and the world.
African Culture at Africa Center
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Neue Galerie, Guggenheim Museum, Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, Jewish Museum, Museum of the City of New York, El Museo del Barrio, Africa Center 🇺🇸 🇮🇱 🇵🇷
UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan
States of Becoming, an art exhibition on the cultural assimilation experience of African artists living and working in the United States, is at Africa Center in “El Barrio” East Harlem from October 14, 2022 – February 26, 2023. theafricacenter.org 🇬🇭🇪🇹🇨🇮🇰🇪🇱🇷🇲🇷🇳🇬🇸🇳🇸🇱🇸🇩🇹🇹🇹🇳🇿🇼
What an interesting p0int of view. In our home countries, we are simply countrymen, but in the United States, we are instantly marked as “Black.” The undeserved abuse and violence that goes with American “othering,” is a dehumanizing experience for many immigrants.
Also New York is one of the world’s most intense urban environments. Many of us come from traditional, rural societies that tend to be conservative. The adjustment from a conservative to a more liberal society provides a second shock.
As Latins, we get the same treatment. All of this is especially confusing because we are supposed to be a free country, a land of immigrants.
The Former Center for African Art
The Museum was founded in 1984 as the Center for African Art in Long Island City Queens. It was founded by Susan Mullin Vogel who was a former Associate Curator in the Department of Primitive Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Museum opened its Fifth Avenue at Central Park North location in 2019. The location has some significance as a cultural intersection.
Fifth Avenue is the border of Harlem and “El Barrio” East Harlem. Back in the day, Latin musicians (like Tito Puente) in East Harlem would go to Harlem to listen to African-American jazz. Black musicians in Harlem (like Dizzy Gillespie) would go to East Harlem and The Bronx to listen to Latin Jazz.
The circle in front of the building is home to the Duke Ellington Statue. Duke Ellington was the most prolific American composer. East of Fifth Avenue, 110th St is Tito Puente Way. Tito Puente grew up at 53 East 110th St between Park and Madison Avenues. So the Museum is at the intersection of two legendary Black and Latin Jazz musicians.
Jazz is Creole (French-Afro-Caribbean), so no matter which side of the street you come from, in Jazz we see our own reflection.
The Africa Center’s location at the intersection of Black and Latin invites us to better understand where we come from, and who we are now, as a way forward, towards creating a better future together.