African Heritage Art Program is a Study of Unity and Contrast

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“The Pride of African Heritage” intertwines generations of artists who, despite their different backgrounds and viewpoints, converge artistically. 

Curator Ana Joa and SoHo Gallery owner Adele Aguiere, with sponsorship from Yucatán’s cultural agency Sedeculta, have assembled some major talents to express a range of styles and influences to explore Africa’s rich influence on Yucatán culture and the world. 

About the artists

Eduardo “Choco” Roca Salazar

Eduardo ‘Choco’ Roca Salazar: Cuban Creativity

Choco, one of the most celebrated Cuban artists of our time, was born into a family of agricultural workers in Santiago de Cuba. Choco’s art reflects his vision of revolution and race on the island.

Courtesy: Eduardo “Choco” Roca Salazar

Fidel Castro declared 1961 the “Year of Education,” and Choco was a member of the first generation of artists educated in the newly nationalized school system. Choco graduated from prestigious art programs in 1970, and his art reflected a new vision of revolution and race on the island. Choco’s collagraph prints presented abstract figures composed from the detritus of Cuba’s consumer culture. He expressed universal human themes through the lens of his personal experience and everyday Cuban life.

Choco’s art reflects the reality of mestizaje, or racial and cultural mixing, while discrimination still remains in virtually all areas of Cuban life.

“It is a satisfaction to be part of this exhibition that is nothing other than a celebration of our roots that are not limited only to Africa but also to the heritage of our universal roots,” Choco says.

Erlin Adones Geffrard

Erlin Adones Geffrard: The Vodou Spell

Geffrard is known for blending mixed media, installation, and performance art into his eclectic repertoire. He calls Philadelphia home and is known for his vibrant, multifaceted style. From classic family portraits to imaginings of the mind, he merges various styles and repurposed materials, allowing them to come to life through rhythmic combinations. His current series reflects his fascination with family memory, ritual, and popular culture.

Courtesy Erlin Adones Geffrard

From Palm Beach, Florida, and Haitian descent, he began studying painting and design at the San Francisco Art Institute. Eventually, he earned an MFA at the University of Pennsylvania, where he now teaches. His pieces overlap fine art, commercial hip-hop culture, class, race, place, gender, and religion.

Originally a performance artist working as Kreyola Kid, he draws on refugee-like experiences and the underground culture in the Bay Area. 

Philadelphia Contemporary’s 2018 Festival for the People showcased his newest banners, celebrating Philly neighborhoods with a striking nod to Haitian Vodou flags. Audiences also saw works by Michel Auder, Mel Chin, and Rikrit Tiravanija.

His work is exhibited at locations such as the Luggage Store Gallery, American Academy in Rome, David Nolan Gallery, Humboldt State University, and New Image Art, and is part of the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection. 

Laura Bueno

Laura Bueno: Rooted in Anthropology

Laura Bueno is an artist whose passions and expertise transcend the traditional boundaries of her profession. 

Courtesy: Laura Bueno

Hailing from Mexico City, Bueno initially pursued a degree in literature from the National School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking La Esmeralda before following her love for Anthropology by joining Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). There, she has spent her time preserving Mexican archaeological sites and artifacts. Her efforts have led to the creation of faithful reproductions of valuable pieces found at La Venta, an Olmec archaeological site in Tabasco.

Laura Bueno continues her mission to protect the legacy of pre-Columbian cultures and frequently collaborates with museums to exhibit their work. 

Her pieces can be found in the Salvador Zubiran National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition, the Soho Gallery in Merida, Yucatan, and in the world’s largest outdoor Gallery, the Garden of Art in Mexico City, where she has held a membership for over two decades.

“This work aims to keep alive in people’s minds the importance of our roots, the tree from which our heart and soul emanate in a multicultural mix full of color, passion and love,” says Bueno.

The Schedule

  • The exhibition opens with a ribbon-cutting starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan 19, at the Peón Contreras gallery, Calle 60, between 57 and 59, Mérida. The main exhibition continues immediately after, with a toast at 8 p.m., at SoHo Galleries, Calle 60, between 41 and 43, in the Santa Ana neighborhood. 
  • Artist and author Assata Akil, otherwise known as “Queen Assata,” presents her mixed-media “IFE” character (pronounced ee-feh) and invites participants to bring their own instruments for an open-mic, African dance and jam session for A Collective Experience at SoHo Galleries on Sunday, Jan. 21, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Artists talk about their life experiences and how they shaped their views with Heart and Message of the Artists from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at SoHo Galleries. Hosted and moderated by curator Ana Joa. 
  • For art buyers, a VIP reception is from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at the gallery. 
  • Following that, on Thursday, Jan. 25, the Balele Dance Troupe will perform “The Journey of Dance from Africa, Cuba, USA, and Mexico” from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Centro de Artes Visuales, Calle 60, 411, between 45 and 47, Centro.

The exhibition ends March 15. 

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