Daniel Skutvik ~ Graphic Designer
This spring, the African-Caribbean Union has worked with the Daura Museum of Art to host an exhibit titled Branches to Roots.
“The African-Caribbean Union would like to share the rich history and culture of Africa and Africans in the Caribbean diaspora,” reads the exhibit’s introduction. “The Union seeks to highlight the stories and shared cultural experiences of the African and Caribbean students, faculty, and staff who are a part of the Lynchburg family.”
The exhibit features colorful traditional African garments, intricately beaded jewelry, an array of African drums, and a variety of other African artworks such as statues, paintings, prints, bags, carvings, and even kitchenware.
Ivypel Amankwa-Asare, the president of the African-Caribbean Union, says that one of the Union’s goals is to educate about diversity. “Diversity is not only limited to black and white races,” she explains. “Diversity also comprises the nuances in different cultures and heritages that make up the Lynchburg family and community – that are very much present on our campus.”
Amankwa-Asare had a big role in creating the exhibit, and says that designing it was a learning experience. “It required dedication, lots of hours planning, and communication with other students for support and their contribution. The process took about 3-4 months to find students and faculty that could contribute items from their homes or people they knew.”
The University’s African-Caribbean Union has been up to more than just this exhibit. Earlier in the semester, they hosted a talk from Dr. Kwame Otu of the Carter G. Woodson institute for African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia on the effects of colonialism, and how to navigate homophobia in Ghana.
“This semester, we are also offering fun activities like dance nights and karaoke nights to explore pop cultures of African and Caribbean communities, and have discussions that deconstruct stereotypes pertaining to our African and Caribbean communities on campus and at large,” says Amankwa-Asare. “In the future, we look forward to providing another themed cultural exhibit, sports days with classic African and Caribbean games we experienced growing up as kids, as well as folktale nights where we share infamous stories we heard as kids- like the Ananse stories – and many more.”
Laura Cole, the academic coordinator at the Daura, explains that the museum wants to share stories that resonate with people. “Stories that they can identify with, but also stories that expand their thinking and that can connect them to other people, and ideas,” she elaborated.
She says that she has enjoyed working with the African-Caribbean Union. “They are a great group, and really have put a lot of thought and care into the exhibit, and have just been so excited to share this with the campus community.”
“This exhibition has been in the works since late last semester,” says Ashani Parker, a gallery assistant at the Daura. “Every member of the African-Caribbean Union provided pieces that represented their culture and home country and from there it was decided to organize the country or function of the object.”
“I think the collaborative aspect of this exhibit was amazing and I encourage more student organizations to reach out if they have objects or stories they want to share with the campus,” she says. “Branches to Roots is certainly a narrative driven show and is clear from its success that the museum can be a great way to highlight diversity and richness on campus.”
Also featured at the Daura this spring is Wayang Kulit: the Art of Indonesian Shadow Puppets. A small selection of African-American Folk Art is being shown in the museum’s atrium alongside Black is the Color, a documentary highlighting historical moments from the African-American visual art movement.
Cole says to look out for the Annual Senior Thesis Art Exhibition and Bi-Annual Museum Studies Capstone Exhibition that will open on April 20. The museum will also be hosting a Shadow Puppet decorating contest. “Students can pick up a kit on Wed. March 24, decorate it, send us a picture by April 2, and a few winners will get some fun prizes.”
You can keep up with the museum on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @DauraMuseum.