by Charles Mombo
As the African Festival of the Arts’ Labor Day weekend celebration approaches, it has just been announced that multi award winning artist Najjar Abdul-Musawwir will serve as the festival’s 2013 featured artist. Known for his energetic and vibrant paintings, the festival commissioned Najjar to paint the theme for the 2013 event. The 24th Annual African Festival of the Arts (AFA) theme is “ASALI,” a Swahili-Hausa word meaning “origin”.
Najjar’s featured painting, also called “ASALI,” will be featured on the official commemorative program and limited edition event posters. African Festival of the Arts festival takes place from August 30 – September 2 at Washington Park, located at 51st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago. The event held annually, four-day Labor Day Weekend event, is the largest festival of its kind and boasts over 200,000 plus attendees.
AFA is the flagship program for the Africa International House USA, Inc. (AIH). The festival features vendors directly from four continents (African, Europe, North America and South America), live performances by local, national and international artists including African and world renowned musicians on three stages.
If you are looking for top-notch, inexpensive family fun, entertainment, great food, a beautiful outdoor experience and some of the best music in the world. Then, look no further; come to the African Festival of the Arts.
Who is Najjar Abdul-Musawwir?
Born on October 25th, 1958, in Chicago, Illinois, Najjar is an internationally acknowledged artist who has exhibited throughout the United States, Africa, Asia and Europe. He currently works as an Associate Professor of studio arts and art history in the School of Art and Design and Africana Studies at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
He has received distinguish and prestigious acknowledgments, and among them are: first Artist-n-Residency/exhibition for the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Detroit, invitational Artist-n-Residency/exhibition by the Tuanku Fauziah Museum and Gallery in Malaysia, commissioned to create a piece for the Visions of Our 44th President travelling exhibition hosted by Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit, Rickert Ziebold Trust Awardee, Judge William Holmes Cook Professorship Endowment, and was invited by the MacAuthur Foundation in Chicago as a member of an Illinois artists' consulting team.
Najjar's works illustrate culture, faith, and history through abstract language. He uses different materials as a metaphor for the human experience; and thus, he abstracts material to discuss our abstract existence. His paintings are harmonious visions of contrasting colors, flowing liquefaction, and symbolic transparency. Najjar is known for using burlap sacks/material in his paintings. He consider it a profound and puissant symbol, the idea of burlap exploiting the surface, which speaks to the power of harvesting the spiritual experiences of the human-will – past, present, and beyond the 21st century.
Bridging the Cultural Gap
AFA which is widely credited for helping to bridge the cultural gap between Africans and the peoples of the African Diaspora was praised by former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley for being instrumental in connecting communities, serving as a bridge builder and bringing people of different racial backgrounds together in a peaceful, relaxing and entertaining atmosphere.
Stay tuned as this year’s festival is expected to shortly announce its EXTENSIVE lineup of outstanding performers.
Advance tickets are $10 a day; $30 for an adult weekend pass. Daily admission for a family of two adults and up to four children is also $30, and senior citizens and children under 13 pay just $5.
Daily admission is $20 at the gate and $300 for access to the VIP Main Stage seating. Visit africanfestivalchicago.com to buy advanced tickets and for updated performance schedules.
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African Festival of the Arts Promo