Harlem Ethiopian Art Exhibition September 5

Source: Helina Metaferia

Published: Monday, August 25, 2008

New York – Coinciding with the 200th year celebration of The Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, comes a group show called “Celebrating Abyssinia to Harlem and Back,” hosted by Canvas Paper and Stone Gallery in Harlem.

The show is curated by Helina Metaferia and Averlyn Archer, who is the Gallery Director at Canvas Paper and Stone, featuring Ezra Wube, Meseret Desta, Mekbib Gebertsadik, Tesfaye Tessema and Helina Metaferia along with Ray Llanos. “Celebrating Abyssinia to Harlem and Back,” is a modern art group show appreciating the special relationship between Ethiopia and Harlem.

The Opening Reception will be held on Friday, September 5, from 6 until 9 PM. The exhibition will run from September 3 through September 27, 2008 in the Gallery at 2611 Frederick Douglass Blvd., Studio 2N in Harlem, New York 10030. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from Noon until six and by appointment.

There is also a gallery talk scheduled for the end of the exhibition, featuring Dr. Getachew Metaferia, a professor of Political Science and International Relations at Morgan State University. He has written The Battle of Adwa- Reflections on Ethiopia’s Historic Victory Against European Colonialism and will speak to the topic of Ethiopian-United States ties across the Atlantic.


The relationship between Ethiopians and Harlemites began in 1808 when Ethiopian merchants and African Americans co-founded The Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York, and has continued to the present, as Harlem is the home to thousands of Ethiopians. Their initial shared effort with The Abyssinian Baptist Church was in response to racially segregated seating in the churches. In the 1930′s, when Garveyism and the Italian-Ethiopian War were on the rise, African-Americans in Harlem took interest in Ethiopia’s independence. Pan-Africanist struggles and the religious-political notion of Ethioipianism bound Harlem residents to Ethiopia, and many African-Americans began to extend their support as Ethiopia struggled against fascist tyranny.

Contemporary Ethiopian art reflects the history of the nation, using bold colors, rich strokes, rhythmic symbols and patterns to express subjects ranging from the homeland and culture to prominent societal struggles. All of these traits are exhibited in the upcoming show, where each artist has his or her own special connection to Ethiopia, whether it be their descent or sense of nationalism. It is this connection to Ethiopia and the USA that unite the very diverse
artists, creating a fluid group show.

This show features five artists and a photographer. Ezra Wube was born and raised in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. He came to the United States at the age of 18. Currently, Ezra resides in Brooklyn, New York, working on his MFA at Hunter College. Ezra explores color and form composition, in examining the figure and themes.

International, award-winning artists Meseret Desta and Mekbib Gebertsadik find inspiration in the cultural richness of Ethiopia, their native homeland. Meseret spotlights women’s portraits while emphasizing the struggle and hardship of women of the world in antithesis to the vivid images of beautifully colored and textured open markets of Ethiopia. Mekbib focuses on “Africanism,” a style described by the artist as “contemporary African paintings reflecting
the core of the African life and culture.”

Tesfaye Tessema can claim many exhibits and private collectors. His work is wide ranging, from paintings, to prints, to computer manipulated photos. The commonality across all these media is
spirituality which is evident in his titles and in his work.

Helina Metaferia is a visual artist, healing artist, and community artist. Her paintings have been shown in galleries and museums such as The James E. Lewis Museum and Pheonix Gallery. She is the illustrator for the Children’s book We Dance the Earth’s Dance. Helina currently facilitate workshops in visual arts and meditation in community based programs.

Ray Llanos is a photographer, who accompanied The Abyssinian Baptist Church to Ethiopia, and captured their trip on film. His work has sent him across the United States and all around the world, to places including Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Mostly specializing in Carnival festivals, Llanos has seen celebrations all over the world, capturing the energy of the moment while enabling his audience to feel those same emotions.

Canvas Paper and Stone Gallery is excited to present these artists to a community that has its own connections with Ethiopia and African Americans alike. The vibrant colors and beautiful textures reflect Ethiopia, its rich culture and landscape, as well as its relationship with Harlem. The Gallery is a contemporary fine art venue which focuses on emerging and established artists in all visual media. Among its objectives is informing and educating its client base, buyers, and collectors about contemporary visual art. It continues to lead the way in Harlem’s cultural arts renaissance by producing world-class art exhibitions. Past exhibits include work by TAFA, Deborah Willis, Ray Llanos, Eric Henderson, Diane Waller, Dianne Smith, Mary Heller, Francks Deceus, Charly Palmer and Aleathia Brown.

Learn more at canvaspaperandstone.com


















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