The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) hasn’t always been “family friendly.”
Using its downtown Brooklyn space to address the social, political and economic issues that affect people of African descent, its exhibitions tend to be a bit headier for those who have trouble tying their shoelaces.
“Most exhibitions at MoCADA are pretty serious, for lack of a better word. They’re adult…in an academic way,” says Dexter Wimberly.
This month, the museum is opening its doors to Brooklynites of all ages to join in the discussion of a weighty but accessible issue – gentrification.
“The Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant Speaks,” curated by Wimberly and opening February 4 at MoCADA, explores Brooklyn’s gentrification through the work of over 20 artists of diverse ethnicities and ages and equally diverse in their medium, with paintings, photography, illustrations, mixed-media, videos, sculpture, poetry, music and theatrical performances used to talk about issues of race, class and discrimination.
The exhibition also marks a new step for MoCADA regarding its audience, as the museum has been collaborating with two local high schools – The Secondary School for Research (237 Seventh Ave.) in Park Slope and the Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School (300 Willoughby Ave.) in Clinton Hill – in documenting the impact of gentrification in the schools’ neighborhoods. Some of the works by the students will also be included in the exhibition itself.
“I’m very excited to see my students work validated in that way,” said Rebecca Krucoff, co-founder of the Urban Memory Project, a civic-based program that for the past semester has been working with seniors at the Secondary School for Research in exploring recent changes to the school’s neighborhood and presenting those findings through photography, oral history, research and writing. “I can’t wait to walk into the gallery and see the students’ work next to all the professional artists and photographers that are in the gallery.”
As part of the exhibition, MoCADA will also be hosting programming at the respective schools. On February 24, the Secondary School for Researchwill host a panel discussion with students, as well as showcase all the students’ photography and essays. Then on February 25, the Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High will present photography, illustration, and digital artwork created by its students, as well as host a roundtable discussion with the teenagers. Both events are from 6-8 p.m. and are free.
For Wimberly, a Brooklyn native who now lives in Fort Greene, it is crucial to have children and young adults talk about the effects – good and bad – of gentrification.
“They stand to inherit the decisions that we now make,” said Wimberly. “Historically (gentrification hasbeen) an uneasy topic. This is the kind of show that parents can bring their kids and talk about these things.”
“The Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant Speaks” runs at MoCADA (80 Hanson Place) from February 4 – May 16. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for students (with valid ID) and seniors. Free for children 12 and under. The museum is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information, go to http://www.mocada.org/ or call 718-230-0492.