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African Presence Art Exhibition Celebrates 15 Year Milestone

The African Presence opening reception featured Ambar De Los Santos, Raphael Walters and Lorena De Los Santos modeling 1950s clothing during the “Styles through the Decades” fashion show.

The African Presence opening reception featured Ambar De Los Santos, Raphael Walters and Lorena De Los Santos modeling 1950s clothing during the “Styles through the Decades” fashion show.

Now in its 15th year, the African Presence Art Exhibition kicked off Black History Month at Nova Southeastern University with a festive opening reception, fashion show, and the unveiling of the 2018 exhibit, “Back to Black: African Diaspora Influences on Art & Culture.”

Approximately 250 guests enjoyed drinks, refreshments, as well as dance and musical performances at the reception held in the Taft University Center. A slide show and pop music provided a historical context to Styles through the Decades–a fashion show reflecting African- inspired fashion and clothing over the past 100 years.

The exhibition includes 13 artists from Africa, the Caribbean, and the U.S. whose work reflect their cultural influences in ways that ranged from the use of African fabrics to finding inspiration in world events.

Nigerian artist George Edozie created Obiamaka, a fabric and metal sculpture, in reaction to the 2014 abduction of more than 200 girls in Chibok, Nigeria, by a militant Islamic group.

The acrylic-on-tarp paintings of Jamaican-born artist Kofi Kayiga reflected the influence of Africa and Jamaican folklore and religious themes.

“The artists were all of African descent but from different parts of the world,” said Mara L. Kiffin, chair of the African Presence Organizing Committee, who started African Presence at NSU in 2004.

“Wherever they came from, they all had this sense of black awareness within themselves…that helped them create these pieces that were influenced by African culture.”

The exhibition will be on display through March 12 at the Adolfo & Marisela Cotilla Gallery at the Alvin Sherman Library.