Diaspora awareness has never been higher in America. Though the term was first used in print before 1600 to describe people banished from ancestral homelands, only since the 1960s has it come into common usage. It comes from a combination of two Greek words: "diasperin" which means "to scatter" and "speirein" meaning "to sow."
"Ancestral Connection," an exhibition of paintings, poetry, sculpture, quilts, photographs and collages opening at the Multnomah Arts Center on Friday, Oct. 4, puts the emphasis on "to sow" by showcasing art that grew from what the artists' ancestors planted.
Bobby Fouther, a longtime fixture on the Portland art scene, is the curator of what is described as a "Group Mixed Media Show Celebrating Portland's African Diaspora." He's a working artist who specializes in dance and is the artist in residence at Helensview School in Northeast Portland, which offers students in grades six through 12 opportunities to get back on an educational track. For his work bringing art to Portland communities, he was given the Spirit of Portland Award in 2009.
In his "Curator's Statement," Fouther said he wanted the work of the nine artists to show how varied are the voices and visions from the descendants of those dispersed from Africa who sowed their artistic ideas here.
"Through this lens I was able to cross genders, ages, styles, aesthetics and content. In the essence, this has created the Village voice that you will experience in viewing and hearing Ancestral Connections," he wrote. "I hope you see how we have shared our inner experiences to create this Village. I hope you hear how we have shared our stories to create our sense of family."
The month-long exhibit will lean heavily on visual arts, showing the works of Ruth Gourdine, Eldon Jones III, Chris McMurry, Saan Patterson, Alice Price and Hobbs Waters. Jamaali Roberts will be showing collages, Mufu Ahmet sculptures and quilts, while Blaque Butterfly will feature spoken word. Fouther himself will be showing his mixed media works, which he also sells online.
WHAT: "Ancestral Connections"
WHERE: Multnomah Arts Center Gallery, Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 S.W. Capitol Highway
WHEN: Exhibit: Oct. 4–29. Reception: 7-9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 4.
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