Tackling identity by using art

Conversations of identity, culture, and what it means to be an American intersect in private amongst cultural groups. There are those who cling to their roots, ignoring their ties to being an American, and those who navigate the various layers of what comprise their identity.

Art continues to be the funnel drawing these diverse groups out of private to broaden the conversation.

Clover’s Fine Art Gallery aims to do just that with their Culture and Heritage exhibition, featuring contemporary artwork reflecting and expressing different aspects of African heritage and culture throughout the diaspora.

Belizean-American artist Dianne Smith, along with nine other artists of Caribbean and African heritage, hopes her pieces including “Hidden Beauty” connect to those attending the exhibit.

“That aesthetic for me, more than anything, is something for me that speaks specific to the diaspora because of the knotting, the tying – I remember being a little girl and my granny would knot and tie my hair up because I had natural hair,” she explained.

Specifically, Smith’s work focuses on the migrant experience and viewing the world through a lens of hyphenated identities.

“All of my work, although it is about a human experience, it is predominantly focused on the people of the African diaspora and the concern, joy, triumph, and pain of what makes us who we are,” Smith said.”

Aside from Smith, other artists will tap into specific instances and experiences as it relates to those in African communities such as carrying water in Tamara Natalie Madden’s piece “The Water Carrier” or Lehna Huie’s figurative works linking Jamaica with the African diaspora.

“I hope there is a diverse intersection of people coming into the gallery to view the work, not just as an aesthetic exploration but an exploration of self and community, and life beyond the lens,” Smith said.

Culture and Heritage takes place at 338 Atlantic Ave. between Smith and Hoyt streets in Downtown Brooklyn from March 8–April 24. For more information, call 718.625.2121 or visit cloversfineart.com. Free admission.

Reach reporter Alley Olivier at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at aoliv[email protected]nglocal.com. Follow Alley on Twitter @All3Y_B.

More from Around NYC