BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Royal coffins, feathered costumes and rhinoceros skin armor take center stage at a new exhibit dedicated to African art.
“Brooklyn is Africa: A Borough of Inclusion; A Continent of Invention” debuts in Bedford-Stuyvesant this month with 50 rare African artifacts from the collection of co-curator Eric Edwards, according to organizers.
Starting on Feb. 10 through April 28, a variety of pieces will be on display at the Skylight Gallery presented by The Center for Arts & Culture at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.
“This is a man who has devoted his life to cherishing and preserving that which symbolizes the most precious, beautiful and human aspects of who we are as a people and presents that to the world,” Dr. Indira Etwaroo, executive director for the Center for Arts & Culture, said in a statement.
“The African American story did not start in 1619 on American soil, but rather on the continent of Africa, an ancient civilization of great leaders, inventors and art-makers.”
Artifacts include a seven-foot-tall palace drum from the 1800s in Nigeria, according to Edwards, a woman’s head carved out of granite dating back 4,000 years to the Nok Dynasty, a king’s coffin, ceremonial masks and more.
The pieces come from Edwards’ collection of more than 2,500 artifacts from 54 countries, he said.
The Bedford-Stuyvesant native started gathering the artwork in 1971 and has since acquired pieces during his trips around Africa and from auction houses, galleries and private collections.
Edwards founded the Cultural Museum of African Arts in his Brooklyn home and is fundraising to find a building to house his artifacts, he said.
Through the “Brooklyn is Africa” exhibit, he hopes to give insight into the techniques used by craftsmen, along with the history of the pieces, he explained.
“The journey that I want people to embark upon is a historical journey, basically from the beginning to where we are now,” Edwards said.
“I want to tell the story of the people of Africa as far as what their value systems are and their culture — and that has been one of excellence and beauty.”
The exhibit at Skylight Gallery, at 1368 Fulton St., kicks off with an opening reception on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. with free admission, drinks and food from local restaurant Joloff.