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Queens Tribune Caribbean Cultures Collide At Queens Museum Of Art


Caribbean Cultures Collide At Queens Museum Of Art

Video Portrait “Kima Momo” on display at Queens Museum of Art.

Last Saturday marked the opening of the latest installment in the exhibition series “Caribbean Crossroads of the World” at the Queens Museum of Art. Complete with live musical performances and traditional Caribbean fare, the event attracted the attention of local residents, artists and fans of art world alike.

  “We always try to find that perfect counterbalance between the art world and the real world,” said David Strauss, Director of External Affairs at the Queens Museum of Art, “and tonight is exactly that.”

  The exhibit, which was organized in conjunction with Manhattan-based museums, El Museo del Barrio and The Studio Museum in Harlem, presented paintings, still photos, video installations and garments created by artists from the Caribbean archipelago.

  Strauss noted that with the rich influx of Caribbean cultures in New York City, the theme of the Caribbean seemed not only fitting but long overdue. “The fact that we are able to really delve into what the Caribbean basin is in the arts through its history and come up with three very powerful museums full of wonderful artwork speaks volumes,” said Strauss.

  Within the larger, unified theme of the Caribbean, common topics of religion, gender roles and strained inter-cultural relationships between the islands echoed throughout many of the works.

  Inspired by an actual nun living in Curaçao, the painting of “The Black Nun” depicted the intricate contrast between the indigenous culture of the island and European influences.

  A native of Curaçao, painter Ariadne Faries said she first noticed the nun singing in a local Catholic church. “I was very inspired to see the combination of Africa, an origin that has a lot of gods, with the Catholic European robes she wore,” said Faries.

  Large crowds drew to a poignant video portrait entitled “Kima Momo” (translation the burning of King Momo), which exemplified the questioning of the roles of men and women in Carribean society.

  Of his work, artist Ryan Oduber said “The piece is a critical look on the carnival. It questions the way men are raised for being macho.”

  The Carnival is an annual Caribbean tradition in which a full-day festival is held to commemorate the celebration of life the on the day before Lent begins. Oduber, who was born in Aruba, said he noticed a drastic shift in social roles once he moved to Holland.

  “In Aruba the macho culture is very present, it’s very latino,” said Oduber. “But once you go study in Holland, it’s almost the opposite. The men are very feminine, they wash dishes, they look after kids, they discuss with women about the way they raise the kids and have the family.”

  The inclusion of Oduber’s piece marks a personal first for the artist who never before had his work on display in New York. “It’s amazing to be a part of something so big,” said Oduber. “To be exhibited in Queens is magical.”

  “Caribbean Crossroads” will be on display though January and the purchase of one ticket at any one of the three participating museums will grant admission to all three.

  Reach Reporter Megan Montalvo at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 128 or
Queens Tribune