WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) – A unique art exhibit is bringing beautiful works of Afro-Caribbean art to the Brass City this month. The display at the Silas Bronson Library is giving local artists a chance to showcase their talent.
The artwork, that’s now gracing the halls of the Silas Bronson Library, is beautiful, bold, and distinctive.
“Look at the art, but then take out a book and read about Taino culture, read about Hispanic culture, and then celebrate the richness of our communities,” said Rafael Feliciano, Afro-Caribbean Culture Center.
The paintings were all donated by prominent Black, Latino, and Afro-Latino artists from across the state. Some provide insights into history.
“This beautiful painting is a celebration of Puerto Rican Bomba,” said Raechel Guest, Silas Bronson Library Director. “Bomba drumming and dancing were used by the slaves when the Spaniards came over to communicate, to help the slaves escape. They would take rum barrels, cover them in goat skins, and drum on them from their African ancestors. The slave master thought they were celebrating, but they were helping each other escape.”
About a third of the population in Waterbury is of Hispanic descent and that’s why having a collection is so very important. The hope is that the collection will get more people to explore what the library has to offer.
“It’s something where I hope members of the Hispanic community come into the library and know this is their library, this is a place to come and celebrate their culture to read, to borrow books, movies and all of those things,” Guest said.
Feliciano was not just the driving force behind the exhibit, but he was also an artist himself. He taught members of the Waterbury community, from children as young as five, to adults, about how to make vegegante masks.
“These mask wearers walk around during carnival season, right before Lent, and they go around hitting little kids on the head to get them to behave during Lent,” Feliciano said. “But it’s a celebration and there’s dancing and singing and parades in the street. Very similar to Mardi Gras, it’s the Caribbean version of Mardi Gras.”
It’s a celebration of Afro Caribbean culture that you can now enjoy just by taking a stroll through the Silas Bronson Library.