Arts and Culture Highlight: Art of the African Diaspora

Arts and Culture Highlight: Art of the African Diaspora

By Amy Spencer

Wisdom Lap, by Tiffany Conway

Art of the African Diaspora, in partnership with Richmond Art Center (RAC), supports artists of African descent in the Bay Area through representation, professional development, and building a creative community.

This year, 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the Bay Area Black Artists Exhibition at Richmond Art Center. Over 100 artists of African descent will showcase their work in RAC Main and West galleries. Works include paintings, drawings, prints, photography, jewelry, and ceramics. As a whole, the exhibition represents a living catalog of the African Diaspora artistic community in the Bay Area, including nineteen participating artists from Richmond. A highlight of the exhibition this year is a 100-pound bronze sculpture of Harriet Tubman called “The General” by J.B. Broussard. An online gallery can be accessed here. The exhibition will be up from January 20 through March 19, 2022, with a reception on Sunday, March 6.

Lay Your Burden Down, by Latisha Baker

Art of the African Diaspora is the longest-running event of its kind in the Bay Area. It originated from a salon for African American artists known as Colors of Black that was organized in 1989 by artist and professor Marie Johnson Calloway. 

In 1996, artists Jan Hart-Schuyers and Rae Louise Hayward established The Art of Living Black at RAC. Many of the artists from Colors of Black participated in the inaugural exhibition, which presented the work of emerging and established African American artists. The artists gained introductions to new audiences, and access to build a creative community of artists and art lovers. 

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, by Cynthia Brannvall

Over the next quarter-century the exhibition ensured the increased visibility for African American artists in the Bay Area that Hart-Schuyers and Hayward conceptualized.  After the loss of both founders, their organizing efforts were carried on by artists, family members, and RAC. In 2019, a Committee became aware of the necessity to incorporate a broader vision of the African Diaspora and consequently renamed the organization Art of the African Diaspora.

Truth Matters series, by Kelvin Curry


As a special Black History Month event, RAC will present Patricia Mapps: From Africa to Richmond, on Monday, February 28 from 7-8 pm. Through archival research, oral history, and DNA, Patricia has traced her ancestors to Africa and uncovered a story of enslavement, emancipation, the decision to purchase and live on the land they “tamed” when enslaved, their transition to farm laborers then to farmers, and Civil Rights activism in Richmond. In this special online event, Patricia will share the story her research has uncovered in a presentation which will be followed by a Q&A session. This event is free but registration is required to access the zoom link.


Richmond Art Center seeks to be a participatory space to equitably grow and sustain innovative art practices in Richmond and beyond. Richmond Art Center programming includes classes, exhibitions and events at their facility in Richmond’s Civic Center Plaza, as well as off-site activities that bring free, high-quality art making experiences to WCCUSD schools, community centers, and Richmond Public Library.