Artists from the African Diaspora showcased

caines | 12/13/2012, 4:30 a.m.

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Music, exhibitions and panels show the variety of Black narratives

Theres much to be said about the amazing art and artists who swoop down on Miami each year during Art Basel. But in years past, Black artists havent been given the kind of exposure that their colleagues from other cultures and countries have. With that in mind, TheUrbanCollective and the City of Miami, SEOPW CRA, teamed up for the second year to present equally-outstanding, contemporary artwork from Africa and the African Diaspora during the 2nd Annual Art Africa Miami Arts Fair. The exhibit was housed in an 8,000 square foot tent next to the historic Lyric Theater in Overtown. The exhibition featured over 50 artists representing Black America, Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti and Barbados. Their contributions stimulated dialogue among other professionals and viewers alike. It goes without saying that their work and what these artists bring to the art world are of critical importance in the ongoing struggle of those who are members of the African Diaspora. South Florida temporarily transforms into an art Mecca during Art Basel and we wanted to give people the opportunity to learn and experience the unique culture of our local Diaspora artists, said City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. Art and sustainable design are powerful agents for positive transformation in our communities, said Neil Hall, owner of TheUrbanCollective. We see the change happening throughout South Florida. The UrbanCollective and Art Africa Miami plan to be a part of that transformative narrative for years to come. Also featured during Art Africa: a special celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's independence; a musical honoring the great Mambo King; performances by The Miami Jazz Society; livemusic by Rockaz Mvmt; and cutting edge designs by celebrity barbers at the Next Level Barbershop. It should be noted that TheUrbanCollective through varied partnerships has added to its outreach efforts by assisting female artisans and providing small loans so they can build and maintain art- or craft-based businesses. Miami Times staff report