darren-watson_web.jpgSpecial to South Florida Times

An annual art exhibition that has gone on display in Miami’s Liberty City community calls attention to the Kwanzaa principle of kuumba or creativity and seeks to celebrate black culture. The Kuumba Annual Kwanzaa Exhibition opened Dec. 22, just days before the weeklong Kwanzaa festival that began on Dec. 26.

Artists in the Kuumba Artists Collective of South Florida kicked off the exhibition with an opening reception at the Amadlozi Gallery in the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Miami’s Liberty City community.

The collective, named for the Kwanzaa principle of creativity, hosted the reception for the showing of diverse, original works of painters, photographers, draftsmen and sculptors that runs through Jan. 17.

“Our annual exhibit is not just about displaying art but (is) a time to celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa,” said Dinizulu Gene Tinnie, the collective’s founding member. “It’s also a way to introduce young people to art, teach them about the principles and let them know that there is art that celebrates who we are.”

“We would also like to establish this gallery as a destination for those who appreciate art,” said Tinnie.

The Collective is an informal organization of South Florida “African World” artists that continues the traditions established by the Miami Black Arts Workshop and the former Kuumba Artists Association of Florida. Its goals include heightening awareness and appreciation of African World visual arts through first-class gallery and museum exhibitions.

 It also aims to take art to the people through community beautification and outdoor art projects, foster creativity and maturation in the visual arts through economic development, mutual assistance, instruction and inspiration.

Another goal is to tap what the Collective see as an abundance of talent in the black community by encouraging younger artists.

Collective member Darren “Poeart” Watson described his painting, Elephant Walk, as “a mother elephant guiding her child.”

“A child instinctively knows to follow, because, if they don’t, they will die. In life, if you veer off from what you know is right, from the guidance provided, you will perish,” Watson said.

“It’s really nature telling a story,” said Watson, who has painted for 10 years.

Kialeuka Bayunga’s Vernell is a part of his series of 30 paintings that document people on wood. “This is my interpretation of what (Vernell) looks like,” he said of the oil-on-board portrait on display.

“I go against the grain with my work,” said Bayunga. “My vision changes with the different people. My work is about black life — where I’ve been and everywhere I’ve lived. I am inspired by everything I have grown up with, my life and times in Opa-locka.”

Bayunga said he admires Western painters such as Leonardo da Vinci and Palmer C. Hayden “but only their ability to draw, not their actual style of painting.” He has been working on his unnamed series for more than four years.

For Kim Young of Fort Lauderdale, the exhibit is “a celebration of cultural art at its best.”

“The work is spiritual, a wonderful representation of our creativity, our view of the African world thorough painting, sculpture and photography,” Young said.

Young was proud of the talent and creativity shown in the exhibit, especially in Bayunga’s pieces. “He does more than capture his subjects; he paints their souls,” she said. “I am hoping that many in the community will have the opportunity to experience this exhibit and support these artists, our artists.”

Cynthia Roby may be reached at CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net


WHAT: Kuumba Annual Kwanzaa Exhibition 2011

Works on display through Jan. 17, 2012.

WHERE: Amadlozi Gallery, African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 2166 NW 62nd Street in Liberty City, Miami

COST: Free and open to the public.

For more information, call 305-638-6771.

Darren “Poeart” Watson