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The work of ARTE NOIR is greatly inspired by the creativity of our African ancestors. In fact, our name translates to "Black art "and is an homage to the many West African countries where French is the second most popular language. Countries including Senegal, Benin, Togo, Coté d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Guinea, and others, have provided the seeds for the creative fruits we enjoy today.

We don’t have to look far back, however, to find connections to our ancestral roots. People right here have supported and contributed to our ability to have a physical space that is resplendently adorned with items from the motherland.

Two individuals, in particular, have opened their hearts and their personal art collections to ARTE NOIR. When you enter the space you will know that the ancestors have blessed our journey and are keeping watch over our movements.

Thank you to Dorothy Mann, whose travels across the African continent included village shopping for grand pieces of tapestry from Lesotho that now adorn a special space inside ARTE NOIR.

Carved wooden mask of African warrior's face
Punu mask from Gabon, courtesy Beverly Kelly

Ms. Beverly Kelly has collected art like she collects friends, and if you know her, you know we are talking about multiple villages of artists whose work is always supported and celebrated by Ms. Bev. As she sets her sights on new adventures, she has gifted ARTE NOIR an enormous collection of masks and other art. The spirits of our ancestors gaze through these beautiful crafts, and they too are holding sacred watch over our work.

These are simply two examples of the deep support and love that has been given to ARTE NOIR. This column is usually about things happening in the African diaspora, but this month as we prepare to fling open our doors, it is fitting to shift a bit. Today, we focus on the ways in which gifts from within the diaspora have been collected, treasured, and provided to us with enthusiastic permission to carry on.

Ms. Dorothy and Ms. Beverly, we are grateful for you and humbled by your confidence in us. Ashé.


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