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Rarely-Seen Art Collection From Cameroon on Display at Queens Gallery

By Katie Honan | February 13, 2014 3:34pm
 The Queensboro Community College art gallery is hosting a large collection of Cameroonian art.
African Art On Display at Queensboro
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OAKLAND GARDENS — Rare African art, part of the personal collection of a member of the royal family in Cameroon, is on display at a Queens art gallery.

The art gallery on the campus of Queensborough Community College, which already has one of the largest permanent collections of African art in the city, is hosting the "Powerful Arts of Cameroon: The Amadou Njoya Collection" through March 10.

The exhibit displays the personal collection of Njoya, a Cameroonian whose artistic family advised the royal family of the Bamum Kingdom. He was named a Nji, or a prince, in 2005, which was passed down from his great-grandfather, he said.

Njoya began his collection in 1990, gathering antiques as well as contemporary pieces throughout Africa, with a focus on Cameroon.

"The Cameroon art is one of the more powerful art works in terms of movement, action," he said.

"I can feel all the spirits, all the energy, all the beauty in the art. It has connection with the living people and the ancestors."

His collection features statues, masks, ornaments, and furniture, as well as items used for various rituals and performances. Some of his pieces date back to the 18th century, he said.

While his approximately 150 piece collection is prized, Njoya's is rarely displayed; he said he stores it in a private location miles from his home in Cameroon.

He brought his art to Queens because, he said, the college "believes in my vision."

Queensboro's gallery opened in its current space, the oldest building on campus, in 1981 after years of planning, according to Executive Director Faustino Quintanilla.

Quintanilla began assembling the current collection, which is a mix of African art, HIspanic artists and works from contemporary American women artists, in the 1970s.

He's now up to close to 4,000 art pieces at the gallery, with around 100 of those considered "masterworks," he said.

"The collection matches the diversity of the college — we can please everybody," he said.

"It it important to meet the community's need for these collections."

The exhibit runs through March 10 at the QCC Art Gallery, 222-05 56th Ave., Oakland Gardens. It's open Tuesday through Sunday, with varied hours. Visit their website for more information.