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Zimmerli Art Museum celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black artists

On Thursday, the Zimmerli Art Museum hosted the latest installment of its SparkNights series, showcasing the work of Black artists. – Photo by Allyssa Bovasso-Pignataro

On Thursday, the Zimmerli Art Museum on the College Avenue campus held the first of many Black History Month events on campus.

The newest installment of SparkNights, the museum's monthly art party, focused on Black artists, offering captivating art exhibitions from Alonzo Adams, Didier William and Paul Claude Gardère. The event also included delicious food, energetic music and great vibes for anyone and everyone.

In between the tours of the exhibitions were performances by Zone de Oriente and the Sigma Lambda Gamma Psi Alpha Chapter. For those looking to express themselves, artist Louie Blaka hosted an interactive art-making workshop.

Guests also had the opportunity to chow down outside the museum at the legendary Chef Deluxe Me food truck. Students, staff and everyone in between made stops at the truck throughout the day to enjoy the culinary excellence.

The first stop in the museum was Adams' exhibit, "A Griot's Vision." Adams is a Black figurative artist born in Harlem and raised in Plainfield. He is a Rutgers alum who earned his BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts and was one of the first inductees into the Rutgers African American Alumni Alliance Hall of Fame.

Adams describes himself as a griot or "a storyteller whose works aspire to capture and immortalize contemporary Black experience." His showcased pieces speak to his resilience and innovation.

The second exhibit, titled "Repossession," was created by Haitian-American artists William and Gardère. The works by both artists spark discussions about racial and cultural relations, as well as the effects of colonialism.

William, an assistant professor in the Department of Expanded Print at Mason Gross, is a Haitian painter and printmaker. William's pieces in the showcase include carved-out eyes that make up the entire picture. The eyes cover the bodies in each piece like protective armor, according to the exhibit. William's riveting art prompts viewers to introspect and take accountability for their actions.

Gardère was a Haitian and American mixed-media artist with a career that spanned decades and produced enduring and thought-provoking work. One of his greatest honors was becoming the first Haitian Artist-in-Residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem. He died in 2011.

To truly understand the feelings invoked by these exhibits, it's best to experience them firsthand. "A Griot's Vision" will be on display until February 25. "Repossession" will be on display throughout the remainder of the semester, concluding on July 31.

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