Borough Prez unveils ‘Brooklyn is Africa’ Exhibition

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Artist Eric Edwards next to one of his works of art at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
Brooklyn Borough Hall

Brooklyn Borough President, Antonio Reynoso, in partnership with the Cultural Museum of African Art (CMAA) on March 9, unveiled the “Brooklyn is Africa” exhibit, the first of the politician’s administration, is being displayed at Brooklyn Borough Hall until March 21.

Partnering with the Cultural Museum of African Art, this free, publicly accessible exhibit, the first of the Reynoso administration, represents the diaspora of the borough.

A collection of Eric Edwards’ rare artwork and historical African artifacts, representing the diaspora of the borough is now open to the public, weekdays, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, from March 10 through March 21. To RSVP, visit www.brooklyn-usa.org/bk-is-africa.

The exhibit will feature three main themes: maternity, music, and awareness. The maternity theme will honor women and birth, revered as a symbol of life and perpetuation of life in Africa, an important symbol in African ceremonies. The theme of music was one used in many ceremonies for initiation and to summon spirits, and used for communication within and between tribal groups. The awareness theme showcases pieces used in ceremonial initiation for when young boys were transitioning from child to man and young girls from child to woman.

“As home to the largest population of Africans in the United States, it is Brooklyn’s pride and obligation to celebrate this rich and diverse history that’s still omnipresent in our communities,” said Reynoso. “Further, we are honored that our first event open to the public at-large is featuring pieces from the Eric Edwards collection, someone who has dedicated his life to the preservation of this history right here in Brooklyn.”

“The Cultural Museum of African Art appreciates Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso’s commitment to the African contributions in the areas of art, culture, science, and history,” said Cultural Museum of African Art Founder and Executive Director, Eric Edwards. “We look forward to elevating Brooklyn to a new awareness, commemorating the end of Black History Month and celebrating Woman’s History Month in March. The goal of our exhibition at Brooklyn Borough Hall is to make the peoples of the diaspora cognizant of our contributions, value systems, which leads to righteousness and the protective care of our ancestors. The messages they are whispering through the artifacts leads to us giving nurture to all standing amongst us.”

Brooklyn is home to the largest population of Africans in the United States, underscoring the importance of showcasing this rich history and heritage at Brooklyn Borough Hall. The themes of the exhibit have a direct correlation to the priorities and mission of the Brooklyn Borough President, including his goal of reducing crisis-level maternal mortality rates within the borough, and reintroducing art, music, and cultural celebrations to Brooklynites.

Visitors to the exhibit can expect to see pieces like “Standing Maternity,” a statue originating in Mali in the early 20th century from the Dogon people that was created to display the maternal female’s relevance and importance she played in the community in survival of everyday life in Africa; and the “Poro Secret Society” mask that has origins in the Ivory Coast in the mid-20th century to the Baule people. This mask was commonly used in ritual rites for the purpose of initiation, symbolizing a boy’s elevation to manhood and superior knowledge.

In addition to reserving tickets for the limited time exhibit, walk-ins will be accommodated weekdays between 1:00PM-2:00PM. Each guest will be allowed 45-minutes to enjoy the art. Background on each artifact will be available.

CMAA is the creation of African artifacts collector Eric Edwards, who has amassed the most significant and important African artifacts collection in the world. Edwards’ journey spans more than 50 years, in which he has carefully selected these unique pieces, which include all 54 countries on the African continent, and date back more than 4,000 years of human history.

In 2021, CMAA was awarded a substantial grant by the New York State Assembly, sponsored by Assembly Member Stefani Zinerman, and supported by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, which will be utilized to create CMAA’s first public-facing museum at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Brooklyn, NY. CMAA is slated to open its doors in July of 2022.

Brooklyn Borough president hosted an opening reception for the exhibit on Tuesday, March 8. To view photos of the reception, visit the official Brooklyn Borough President Flickr page.

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