Thursday, January 26, 2012

Black History Month at the American Library in Paris

For the past few years, the American Library in Paris has celebrated Black History Month with a month-long exhibit and an evening presentation on a unique aspect of African / Diaspora history.

Join me at The American Library in Paris on

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

for my presentation entitled

Following the Flavors of the African Diaspora

Details at the end of this article!


In 2009, the Library asked Cheryl Ann Bolden – artist and curator of the private traveling museum "Precious Cargo" – to present “Images of Blacks in Western Art.” It also mounted an exposition of the same name that was on view from January 26 through March 2, 2009.

Image from Cheryl Bolden’s 2009 Presentation*
Photo courtesy of the American Library in Paris

Bolden, who was a student at Sotheby's London and a research associate at the Cambridge University African Studies Center, spoke about Western artists’ portrayals of black people “as saints, sinners, heroes, and villains -- in a number and variety to astonish even scholars.” She explored the hidden meanings of these images and talked of how each lies open to the interpretation of the individual viewer.

The year 2010 brought Swoosh! Crack! Roar! - Celebrating the Negro Leagues and the All-American Girls Baseball League to the exhibit case at the Library. It was on view from February 2nd through March 20th in honor of Black History Month and Women’s History Month. On February 3rd; artist and author Kadir Nelson spoke about his first book entitled We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. Nelson spent seven years researching, writing, and painting the history of the Negro Leagues Baseball for this book, in which he relates the story of the life of a Negro League ballplayer both on and off the field in the voice of an elder fictional "every player."

Book cover for We Are the Ship

During his presentation, Nelson poignantly and humorously shared the story of how he developed as an artist and the detailed process of creating the text and art for his book.

On February 9, 2010, I had the pleasure of presenting my signature lecture entitled “Black Paris and the Myth of a Colorblind France.” I provided an overview of over 200 years of African-American history in Paris with a focus on the 20th and 21st centuries, speaking of statesmen and solders as well as artists and entertainers. I then presented the story behind the myth of a colorblind France, followed by several images of contemporary Black Paris. The question and answer period at the end of the talk was quite lively!

In 2011, the Library mounted an exposition called Images of the African Diaspora in New York City Community Murals. Curated by Jane Weissmann, it hung from February 1st through March 30th. Weissman is co-author of the cultural history On the Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in New York City. She created Images of the African Diaspora in New York City Community Murals in conjunction with the publication of On the Wall.

The exposition explored how African and Caribbean art, history, religion and myth have influenced mural themes and content. It focused on the National Black Arts Movement (often considered the cultural art of the Black Power Movement), the artistic philosophy of Ghanaian artist Kofi Antubam, and how the artists drew inspiration from Adinkra and African fertility symbols, Ndebele house painting, Egyptian rituals, and representations of Jesus and his disciples as Blacks.

Laura James, Behold How Good and Pleasant It Is...,
1992 Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York
photo: © Janet Braun-Reinitz

This year, I am honored to be the featured speaker for Black History Month in conjunction with the Library’s exposition entitled Following the Flavors of the African Diaspora. The exhibit encourages visitors to “discover the flavors of the African Diaspora, from Africa to South and Central America, the Caribbean islands, and North America and consider how food has expressed and continues to express identity among groups with African ancestry throughout the world.” It runs from February 7th through March 4th.

In my presentation on February 7th, I will discuss the common threads found among various foods and methods of food preparation in Africa and its Diaspora and their cultural significance among African Diaspora peoples. I will also tell the story of my personal discoveries about several of these food items as I wrote my cookbook Food for the Soul – A Texas Expatriate Nurtures Her Culinary Roots in Paris.

Illustration from Food for the Soul
© Christiann Anderson

Do come out and join me for this talk! Entry is free!

Following the Flavors of the African Diaspora
The American Library in Paris
Tuesday 7 February 2012 at 7:30 PM
10, rue du Général Camou
75007 Paris
Telephone: 01 53 59 12 60
Metro: Ecole Militaire (line 8), Alma-Marceau (line 9)
RER: Pont de l'Alma (line C)

*Moses and His Ethiopian Wife
Jacob Jordens
c1650 Oil on canvas
Antwerp, Belgium


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

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1 comment:

samovar said...

very nice round up! thank you! @3samovar