Puerto Rican artist Gerardo Castro in the group show “Contemporary Directions: Niger to Afro Futurism” at Westfield State University

Westfield State University will celebrate Black History Month by hosting a month-long celebration of events including panel discussions, art shows, and movie screenings.
Since 1974, Westfield State has held special events during the month of February dedicated to informing students, faculty, and staff as well as the community about the importance of black history, culture, and traditions. Last year, the on-campus celebration was renamed Black His/Her story Month to stress the importance of women in the black community.  The events are organized by a committee of faculty, staff, students, and sponsored by the Westfield State University Office of Diversity & Inclusion.

“Black His/Her story is more than just a celebration of culture,” Richeme continued. “It’s sharing, teaching, and an inviting educational /social moment. We cannot navigate the future if we don’t use direction from the past.”

In celebration of Black History Month, Westfield State will hold a month-long art show, titled "Contemporary Directions: Niger to Afro Futurism" featuring the artwork of Gerardo Castro, Andrae Green,  Ghislaine Sabiti, and Toby Sisson in the Arno Maris Gallery.

Gerardo Castro photo by Michael Gabor 

Gerardo Castro
Gerardo Castro is a native of Ponce, Puerto Rico. He earned his Master of Fine Arts in painting from the Pratt Institute in New York and he currently teaches in the art department at New Jersey City University. He is also organizing a public art experience titled “The Lightbulb Project” in which more than 100 artists collaborated to create lightbulb statues on display in the city of Newburgh, NY.

His contributing artwork features a steel cut-out silhouette of his body, which he ignited to symbolically burn his body onto paper. The pieces were influenced by his knowledge of indigenous cultures and Afro-Cuban/Caribbean religions and spirituality.

“Through simple forms and a straightforward presentation, I strive to present the viewer with powerful and dignified images layered with a color so rich that they see beyond the surface and examine all that lies within a color’s substance,” Castro said in his artist statement.

Cosmos, 2016,  burning on Arches oil paper, oil paint, 6 feet x 24"

For an artist statement and bio for each artist, please visit westfield.ma.edu/events/view/contemporary-directions-niger-to-afro-futurism.

The exhibit open the last Tuesday, January 31 and will run through February 25 in the Arno Maris Art Gallery is located on the second floor of the Ely Campus Center. Gallery hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, please visit westifeld.ma.edu/galleries.