Caribbean News
Caribbean Art and Poetry Moored at Venice, Screened at The Cooper Union in New York City
By Nehesi House
Oct 21, 2019 - 10:00:33 AM

Cozbi A. Cabrera, author of the illustrated children’s book My Hair is a Garden, and whose doll designs have been featured by Martha Stewart and on the Oprah Winfrey Show. (C. Cabrera photo.)

NEW YORK CITY — Caribbean-inspired art and poetry will be screened and performed at The Cooper Union in New York City, Saturday, October 26, 2019, at 4 PM, said architect Margaret Matz of The Cooper Union Alumni Association.

The video artworks “BLING” and “GLORIA” by Jean-Ulrick Désert and “Untitled,” a set of print-like scratchboard etchings by Cozbi Cabrera will be screened at the college in Room 201/201A, at 41 Cooper Square, Manhattan. Désert, a Haitian-born artist and Cabrera, of Honduran heritage, are both alumni of Cooper Union programs, said Matz.

Désert is currently based in Berlin, Germany. “He was selected to represent Haiti at the Venice Biennale 2019, and his sculptures, installations, paintings, and videos often reveal what may be characterized as conspicuously invisible,” said Matz.

Jean-Ulrick Désert, the Berlin-based artist from New York City to have his work showcased at Cooper Union. (JU.Desert photo.)

Cabrera is the illustrator of several children’s books. At COZBI Handmade Goodness, the artist in residence for Lincoln Center (2017-18), also designs clothes and makes collectible cloth dolls that have been featured by Martha Stewart and on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Cabrera is the author of the illustrated children’s book My Hair is a Garden, said Matz.

Both artists grew up in New York City.

The poetry of Charles Matz II and Lasana M. Sekou constitutes the literary feature of the exhibit, presented by The Cooper Union and The Cooper Union Alumni Association, said Matz. Charles Matz II is a dramaturge and a literature professor at Long Island University. Sekou is an award-winning author from the Caribbean island of St. Martin.

Charles Matz II, author of Columbus, The Moor, literature professor at Long Island University. (C. Matz photo.)

Prof. Matz will recite “Sepulchral Voices” (“Death calling the roll”) from his new book, Columbus, The Moor. The Atlantic World epic is set on the day that Christopher Columbus arrives in the Caribbean. “Poems” by Sekou are from his Book of the Dead. The collection is illustrated with the Cabrera etchings that will be on exhibit.

Poetry from The Salt Reaper, a book and CD by Sekou, will also serve as backdrop audio recording for the exhibit, said Matz.

The showcase of art and poetry is extracted from a larger exhibition and architectural conservation project being coordinated by Matz for presentation at the Venetian Biennale of Architecture. The project, which includes mostly US and Italian architects and scholars, is entitled “Dimension: Two Venetian Scole, Exhibition – Conservation.”

Book of the Dead by Lasana Sekou, Caribbean poetry on exhibit at The Cooper Union, New York City.

The scaled down exhibit is multifaceted, said Matz: “To profile two alumni of The Cooper Union, which is celebrating its 160th anniversary, Jean-Ulrick Désert and Cozbi Cabrera.

“To engage the public with the original function of The Cooper Union, which was to provide education ‘as free as water and air,’ through an exhibit that examines re-animating the prototype of Venetian Scole Piccole, the earliest public schools in the Occidental sphere, originally staged on the occasion of the Venice Biennale 2018.

“To uniquely draw in art and artists from or critically inspired by the Caribbean ‘sea of islands’ and island-heritage, that have had their work ‘moored’ in Venice, which Sekou has called in one of his poems a ‘city of water and islands.’”

Sekou and Désert “had previously presented in Venice at cultural fora: the international literary festival Incroci di Civiltà at Ca’ Foscari, and at exhibits at Casa Carlo Goldoni and the Centro Tedesco di Studi Veneziani,” said Matz.

The one-day art and poetry exhibit at Cooper Union on Saturday, October 26, 2019, actually runs from 10 AM to 6 PM. The art screening reception and poetry reading starts at 4 PM. The exhibit is open to the general public, said Matz.

The organizers of the exhibit include Margaret Matz, The Cooper Union Alumni Association, and Nanwei Chen, The Cooper Union Alumni Association.

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