Art-lovers of all ages celebrate International African Arts Festival

Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

Young artists: From left, Assata Alexander, Wazzala Joseph, and Shashamane Alexander show off some of their art at the International African Arts Festival on July 4.
Festival faces: Artist Karain Water, right, and Assata Alexander smile for the camera at the event.
Strike a pose: Elyssa Nicole with a fan from her store, Diaspora Africa.
The drinks: From left, vendors Yusef Abdul-Jaleel and Taeesha Muhammad show off Sorrel, a Brooklyn-made beverage.
Colorful work: Various types of art were displayed by vendors at the festival, which celebrated the artistry of the African Diaspora.

Call it a creative union.

Thousands of art enthusiasts packed Fort Greene’s Commodore Barry Park this month for the 46th International African Arts Festival, an annual event that draws crowds each year with its showcase of artistry and music from the African Diaspora, according to attendees.

“I’m a big fan and have been coming for years,” said Karain Water, an artist and jewelry-maker who began attending the fest in the early ’90s.

The artisan and a friend sold baubles and artwork at the four-day event, in addition to inking guests with temporary tattoos. Some of their wares were created by her gal pal’s kids, who made their own crafts for the occasion, according to the artist.

“They are up-and-coming artists,” she said. “They sold jewelry made out of pipe cleaners, and post cards that they drew.”

The festival’s family atmosphere made it a great place for creative youngsters to learn more about the art on display, according to Water.

“I grew up going to this festival, and we bring our kids because they are the next art generation that will keep it going,” she said.

Fest-goers who rocked to the beat of reggae musicians British Dependency, Gary Nesta Pine and the Love Generation Band, and Denroy Morgan at the event, which ran from July 1 to 4, said the tunes provided a perfect soundtrack to a party that feels more like a family reunion.

“There were so many good performances this year. I really enjoyed the music,” said Taeesha Muhammad. “I’ve been coming to the festival since I was child. It’s like a reunion sometimes, because I know many of the people.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at
Updated 5:57 pm, July 9, 2018
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