IROKO: Tree of Life/Árbol de Vida
March 16 – May 21, 2017
As an artist of Afro-Boricua heritage, Ms. Imna Arroyo has devoted her artistic expression to an exploration of connections between the African Continent and the Diaspora. In 1997, she traveled to Ghana, West Africa, where she stood at “the door of no return,” the last portal through which enslaved Africans passed before being shipped to the New World. She has traveled to other countries as well—Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Cuba and Nigeria—to draw inspiration from traditions that nurture Afro-Latino expressions of the Diaspora. She is inspired by the idea that the art-making process can be a “ritualized form of healing that addresses the deep-seated collective wound of history …”
The works featured in IROKO: Tree of Life/Árbol de Vida draw on the importance of the sacred Tree of Life in African and other cultures around the world. Known as Iroko to the Yoruba people of West Africa, the Tree of Life contains great symbolic, spiritual, mythological, medicinal, magical, commercial, ecological and aesthetic import. Using both traditional and non-traditional media, Ms. Arroyo explores “the marvelous power of nature,” ancient myths of creation, fertility, and spirituality, as well as our relationship to the environment and the challenges of climate change.
The exhibition examines the interrelationships between our outer, physical ecological situation; our awareness of the sacred in creation; and our inner relationship to the symbolic world of the soul. Ms. Arroyo’s intent is to promote art that expresses this complex, diverse, and dynamic intersection, while seeking to connect the intellectual, spiritual, and practical components of community building and sustainability.
As noted, the artist will lead a workshop at the Gallery on Saturday, April 8th from 4 to 5 p.m. Meditation and discussion will be encouraged. With this workshop, the Clare Gallery will be participating in a national event, “Slow Art Day,” which is intended to celebrate art, artists, and how art can affect our perceptions of the world. For more information, go to: www.slowartday.com.
Immediately following the workshop, a reception and artist talk will begin (artist talk at 5:30 p.m.) During the artist talk Ms. Arroyo will include screenings of new video work. The videos were created in collaboration with graphic and digital media artist, Tao Chen, and video producer, Jaime Gomez. The video includes interviews of the Katanzama Indigenous people of Colombia by Jaime Gomez and videographer Julio Charris, as well as traditional Yoruba Orisha songs sung by Amma McKen, Iya Ola and Swahili Henry and a new dance performed by Sinque Tavares and choreographer Alycia Bright-Holland. Additional information about all three exhibitions and Ms. Arroyo can be found at: www.imnaarroyo.com
The exhibition at the Clare Gallery is one of three that will present Ms. Arroyo’s work in Connecticut during the spring and summer months of 2017. The other exhibits are: IROKO: Home of the Ancestors/La Casa de los Ancestros, at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, CT (March 23 through May 6, 2017) and IROKO: Home of the Gods/La Casa de las Orichas, at MS17 Art Project Gallery in New London, CT (April 22 through July 1, 2017).
The exhibition, and reception is free and open to the public. Free parking is available directly across from the church in Saints Lot. The facility is handicapped accessible.