Summer Performance Series celebrates music, dance of the Caribbean

Museum to showcase artists responding to and representing Afro-Caribbean culture 

Wilmington, DE (June 4, 2019) – With a range of artists celebrating the history and artistry of such places as Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago, and a host of performance styles, the Delaware Art Museum is thrilled to feature a lineup of multidisciplinary performances by Afro-Caribbean artists as part of its 2019 summer performance series.

“Each of the performing artists are responding to the dynamic Afro-Caribbean culture of the archipelago in different ways,” explains Jonathan Whitney, Manager of Performance Programs and Community Engagement at the Delaware Art Museum. “The islands have such different performance practices and performance heritages—from Cuban salsa bands to Puerto Rican plena dances and Trinidadian steel drums. There is an abundance of performance art to choose from, so the first thing we did when planning the series was ask members of our community who shared Caribbean roots how we could celebrate the connections while still showing reverence to the variety.”

Launching in July, this series will present dance, music, and performances from major artists with deep connections to Caribbean culture while tying back into the Museum’s exhibition Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago, which runs June 22 to September 8, 2019. Performances will be presented at the Museum, encouraging visitors to deepen their experience and further explore the exhibition.

By featuring a variety of artists throughout the summer, the Museum invites visitors to look at Caribbean culture in several different ways. Los Pleneros de la 21, the Grammy-nominated group considered by many as New York’s preeminent bomba and plena ambassadors to the world, starts the series with their musical styles that celebrate traditional Puerto Rican folk and professional musicians. Following will be composer and performer Nathalie Joachim’s Fanm d’Ayiti (Women of Haiti), which will draw on Joachim’s conversations with Haitian artists who used their voices to lift others and will also feature the twice-Grammy-nominated Spektral Quartet. A performance piece from dance artist Makeda Thomas, who splits her time between New York and Trinidad as founding director of Trinidad’s Dance and Performance Institute, will round out the summer and include the opportunity to join her for a unique gathering that merges food, dance, and storytelling.

All told, the works will highlight the importance of coming together as the artists use their chosen style to encourage others to gather and share in the culture and history of a place through performance.

“Both the performances and the exhibition are speaking to the many cultures in the Caribbean,” adds Whitney. “Exploring the performance side of these cultures, and by hearing from members of our own community with Caribbean roots as we explore the exhibition, we can personally connect with the many people and the many cultures of Caribbean.”

Curated by Tatiana Flores and organized by the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California, Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago presents 21st-century art by artists with roots in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Curaçao, Aruba, St. Maarten, St. Martin, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Trinidad, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Barbados, and St. Vincent. Acknowledging the great diversity represented by these various countries, the exhibition explores thematic continuities found among the region. It features contemporary painting, installation art, sculpture, photography, video, and performance by over 60 artists from the islands of the Caribbean.

“The performance series continues to bring artists to Delaware who are pushing creative boundaries and responding to their experiences in innovative ways,” says Sam Sweet, the Delaware Art Museum’s Executive Director and CEO. “At the same time, we are increasing Caribbean-cultural programming for Wilmington and continuing the Museum’s attention to developing programming that is representative of Delaware communities and reflective of audiences’ interests.”

The Performance Series is part of the Museum’s vision to become a vital hub in Wilmington where artists, educators, and community groups come together on equal terms to engage in cultural and civic discourse around art.

LOS PLENEROS DE LA 21

Thursday, July 11, 2019
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Delaware Art Museum
Tickets: $30 Museum Members, $35 Non-Members, $25 Students

Enjoy the sounds of Puerto Rican bomba and plena, as well as a DJ’d dance after party with DJ Willie.

Los Pleneros de la 21, the premier East Harlem-based performing ensemble and nonprofit community organization, was founded in 1983 by Juan J. “Juango” Gutiérrez (National Endowment on the Arts Heritage Fellow, 1996) and the legendary Master Plenero Marcial Reyes Arvelo. Having toured extensively both nationally and internationally for over three decades, LP21 is considered by many as New York’s preeminent bomba and plena ambassadors to the world, bringing Puerto Rican culture to Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Latin America, Australia, Berlin, The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, The Kremlin (former Soviet Union), and countless other international cities and prominent venues.

The LP21 ensemble, an exceptional mix of Puerto Rican Folk Masters and professional musicians, are all united in their common cause to expose the importance of traditional Puerto Rican music, has pioneered the road for bomba and plena performance and is responsible for expanding platforms for continued performance, learning and the presentation of bomba and plena—paving the way for many other musicians who now share their stage.

While in Wilmington, they will be working with students from the Latin American Community Center.

FANM D’AYITI BY NATHALIE JOACHIM WITH THE SPEKTRAL QUARTET

Thursday, July 25, 2019
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Delaware Art Museum
Tickets: $30 Museum Members, $35 Non-Members, $25 Students

This project is an attempt to celebrate the women of Haitian song and to explore their individual stories as they relate to Afro-Caribbean culture, society, history, and music, by giving them a long deserved international platform.

Fanm d’Ayiti (Women of Haiti) is an evening-length work for voice, flute, string quartet, and electronics developed by composer/performer Nathalie Joachim. Commissioned by St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series, Fanm d’Ayiti is a celebration of some of Haiti’s most iconic yet under-recognized female artists, as well as an exploration of Joachim’s Haitian heritage. The project features original songs incorporating the recorded voices of Joachim’s grandmother and the girls’ choir of her family’s home farming village of Dantan; new arrangements of songs by some of the greatest known female voices in Haitian history; and recorded interviews with these artists about their lives fighting for social justice and uplifting the people of Haiti. Developed in a two-year Liquid Music Virtual Residency, Fanm d’Ayiti premiered in March 2018 with members of SPCO in St. Paul, MN, and will be presented in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 season with Spektral Quartet.

THE LIGHT FANTASTICAL BY MAKEDA THOMAS

Friday, August 16, 2019
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Delaware Art Museum
Tickets: $25 Museum Members, $30 Non-Members, $20 Students

Through multiple presentations, dance artist Makeda Thomas will use live performance, text, and installation to examine culture and identity through the lens of the fantastical. The Light Fantastical is an open series of artistic explorations of the metaphors for art and technology that come out of Afrofuturist culture—or, more appropriately, “Caribbean Futurisms”—which considers how Caribbean cultural forms navigate time and space and innovate new histories, sciences, and aesthetics. The project was set in motion 20 years ago as a personal family history project, and reset with the loss of those archives in a 2018 fire that destroyed the artist’s home.

The evening before the performances, the dinner and performance piece “Eat Little and Live Long” will serve as a time for the community to come together for storytelling and decompression. Thomas will also be present at the Museum the week of her performance for rehearsals, which will be open to the public.

PRESS CONTACT

Please contact Cynthia Smith, Marketing Manager, at csmith@delart.org or 302-351-8514.