The Diva Difference: Sisters With Voices…Unabashedly Bold… Unapologetically Black, an art exhibition February 4, 2023 – March 4, 2023, at the West Orange Arts Center on 551 Valley Road, West Orange. The community is invited to an artists’ reception on Saturday, February 11, from Noon-4pm with music by DJRocM. WOAC Gallery and Gift Shop hours are Saturdays from 11am-4pm, Sundays from Noon-3pm and by appointment.
The show features the work of WOAC members Kim Alexander-Cook, Dwight Carter, Jose Manuel Cruz, Jasmine Elmore, Maria Estrela, Anthony Gartmond, Carol T. Jenkins, Theodore Jenkins, Barbara Motley, Ron Powell, Cassandra Saint-Jean, Onnie Strother, Denise Toney, and Asher Williams. Installed by gallerist Rey Arvelo, the pieces emphasize the importance of color and the inspiration of music for the artists. A special feature of this show, on loan from the private collection of Celeste Bateman, is a photograph of Dee Dee Bridgewater by M. Malcolm King.
“Black women in general, have a long and well-documented history of being fully engaged in the struggle for liberty and justice for all in America,” states WOAC Board Member Dr. Joyce Harley, who has been instrumental in the production of this exhibit. “The similar struggles—often at great risk to their careers—of Black women performing artists has yet to be told. This exhibit is a first step toward giving them their due. They are all drum majors for justice and so deserving of having a light shined on them by the incredibly gifted and talented artists whose works are displayed in our gallery.”
Patricia Mitrano, WOAC Chair reports the organization is experiencing an “incredible creative surge after the three-year pandemic pause. The arts are rightfully being recognized for their ability to positively enhance wellbeing and we are fortunate to have an arts center in our community where we can share this joy.”
The WOAC Gift Shop will highlight hand-crafted home accents and bath products using the brilliant colors of Africa, along with hand-beaded portraits featuring Black women. “We are celebrating Black History Month with Edith Browne’s handmade necklaces using beads imported from Ghana,” reports gift shop manager and WOAC Board Member Liana Torrice. “On Sunday afternoons visitors can take part in weekly workshops and gallery tours.”
This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs.