The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (VACNJ) will open
an interdisciplinary initiative that explores the visual art and folklife traditions of the Caribbean diaspora in New Jersey
WHERE: The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, 68 Elm Street in Summit, NJ. Gallery hours: Monday– Thursday, 10 AM–8 PM; Friday & Saturday, 10 AM–5 PM; and Sunday, 11 AM–4 PM.
Please call 908.273.9121 to confirm holiday hours. Visit artcenternj.org for more information.
In the Main Gallery, Jairo Alfonso: Objectscapes surveys the work of Jairo Alfonso, a Cuban-born artist who has been living and working in New Jersey since 2014. In the past 10 years, he has produced three substantial bodies of work that are similarly concerned with the meaning of everyday objects. Like an archeologist of the present, Alfonso meticulously documents consumer goods, communication devices, and other ubiquitous products in large-scale drawings and paintings, installations, and videos. He reveals material culture’s propensity to hold personal as well as collective significance and sheds light on who we are, where we are from, and where we belong.
Concurrently, in the Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg Gallery, folklife traditions—including dance performances, traditional music, and multimedia storytelling—will be highlighted in public programs and through video, audio recordings, and documentary photographs. Los Herederos, a media arts non-profit organization, will showcase The Sonicycle, a mobile audio-visual unit that engages communities in sharing stories, music, and cultural traditions. This interactive digital caravan is fully outfitted with a DJ turntable, speakers, audio players, a projector, and recording equipment. Los Herederos will use The Sonicyle to record stories from artists, performers, and community members in a public event at the Art Center on Saturday, February 11, from 1–4 PM. They will then produce a short audio documentary reel composed of oral histories, local soundscapes, and musical performances collected by folklorist Naomi Sturm-Wijesinghe and Los Herederos. Also on view will be aspects of the folklife research including an installation of documentary photographs printed on textiles.
The Art Center’s Stair-gazing gallery will showcase Jack & Jill by figurative painter Kevin Darmanie. Born in Trinidad & Tobago, Darmanie utilizes photographs of himself and his friends to create his portraiture, referencing elements of his own life and shared experiences to inform clean narrative works which explore complex relationships between image, object, gaze, and landscape. In Darmanie’s recent work, the cellphone’s function as a contemporary mechanism for interpersonal communication looms prominent, informing the composition of the artworks and acting as the de facto device to capture the depicted images.
Jairo Alfonso is a Cuban-born artist living and working in Hudson County, New Jersey. He was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1974. He graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) and from the Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA) in Havana. He moved to the United States from Spain in 2013.
Los Herederos, which translates to “the inheritors,” is a grassroots media-arts non-profit organization dedicated to inheriting culture in the digital age. They engage in research-based documentation for public consumption to produce projects, programs, and services that address the realities of local culture, evolving communities, and an increasingly diasporadical immigrant experience. They believe in the power and complexity of transmedia storytelling to educate and encourage a more culturally aware, equitable, and sustainable society.
Kevin Darmanie is a painter who currently shuttles between Brooklyn and Newark, New Jersey. He has exhibited at the Paul Robeson Gallery and Messier Gallery at Express Newark, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ; Reginald Ingraham Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Harold B. Lemmerman Gallery, New Jersey City University, NJ; Gallery Aferro, Newark, NJ; and Central Utah Arts Center, Salt Lake City, UT. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Paradice Palase, Brooklyn, NY; and Peninsula Gallery, NYC. His work has been written about in both Forbes and Hyperallergic magazines.
About the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey
For 90 years, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey has been exclusively dedicated to viewing, making, and learning about contemporary art. Recognized as a leading non-profit arts organization, the Art Center’s renowned Studio School, acclaimed exhibitions, and educational outreach initiatives serve thousands of youths, families, seniors, and people with special needs every year.
Major support for the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is provided by the Wilf Family Foundations; New Jersey State Council on the Arts; The Estate of Pamela Hauptfleisch; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; and the Art Center community of supporters.