Ancestral Call

Danielle Scott

Curated by Anthony E. Boone and Bryant Small

Danielle Scott is a cultural explorer, activist and artist that breathes in the history and spirits of HER PEOPLE. Scott uses research to tell the unheard stories, transforming her into the storyteller, the mother, the daughter and the history of her subjects.    

This collection embodies the artist’s work and dedication to social commentary and ancestral storytelling. Manifesting the internal into the external, she creates a connection through color, texture and technique that weaves together the fables and stories of legend that are true. Poised to be stories of sadness, Scott finds the POWER and Resilience of these figures … these warriors … these Kings and Queens.   

In preparation for Ancestral Call, Scott spent more than a year visiting plantations and sourcing materials and historical documentation to be more connected to the stories that she’s been called to tell. She expertly integrates delicate papers and fabrics from around the world, as well as her personal photography and excerpts from her research documents in all of the works presented.  

In past work, Scott has addressed stereotypes and archetypes, systematic racism, and gun control. In her most recent collection, the BERTHher series (2019-2021), her focus was to share the stories of women through a joyful celebration of power and triumph.

This current presentation, darker in tone and emotion, represents the ancestry and lineage of black families across generations. This is Ancestral Call

Image: Celestine, HesterAnn and Ellen by Danielle Scott


Curated by Emma Wilcox and Candace Nicholson

Participating Artists:

Katrina Bello
Ruth Borgenicht
Amy Faris
Bud McNichol
Lisette Morel
Michael K. Taylor
Mary Valverde
Heather Williams

Finding commonality when things are firmly controlled and anticipated is not hard. However, there is much to prefer instead in the pleasurable labor of making connections across our idiosyncrasies, our differences, and our approaches to art-making.

In Multitudinous, select alumni of Gallery Aferro’s two fellowship programs – the Sustainable Arts Fellowship and the Lynn and John Kearney Fellowship for Equity – will each present a profound representational artwork while answering the question: How do we first come to understand each other as a purposeful community of artists? 

By excerpting the ceaseless activity of 73 Market Street’s studios operating within the 16-year context of an artist-founded urban workspace, Multitudinous also celebrates a more recent development: the Sustainable Arts Foundation awarding Gallery Aferro prestigious multi-year funding in recognition of the excellence of our fellowship program for artist-parents, out of a national landscape of equally collaborative artist workspaces.

The residencies and fellowships here at Aferro do not tie artists to any specific mandate, but honor the labor for “the common wages of their most secret heart.” Several fellowship artists included in the exhibition will be making site-specific work, evidencing the important role of an artist-run space in supporting experimentation.

Multitudinous is also a joyous rejection of the alternative space as a mere “foyer” for commercial gatekeeping, to borrow Martha Rosler’s phrase. This is the pleasurable labor of seeing each other, in and out of moments of mainstream visibility, through processes, dialogues and realizations.

Image: Endless Forest by Bud McNichol

Cooler Than Blue

December 3rd, 2021 – September 24th, 2022

NICO Kitchen + Bar, 1 Center Street, Newark, NJ

Gallery Aferro, after almost two decades of existence as an artist-run space, draws on the intimacy of proximity to creative lives, and the diffuse vastness of artist networks for Cooler Than Blue. A group exhibition is a kind of visualization of relationships, including those sustained over time, and Cooler Than Blue is also a celebration of artist studio culture, the specific knowledge taught, traded, and passed among painters: the legend and lore of specific colors. Blue is believed to be the first color synthesized by the Egyptians around 2,200 BCE. Since then, new colors have continued to be a source of excitement and intrigue among artists, with Ultramarine, Indigo, Prussian Blue, YInMn blue, Ultrablack, and others. Painters, printmakers, and photographers included in the exhibit, whether working in an abstract or figurative manner, have an intense working relationship to the color blue.

Trimmed TMMAY logo

Tell Me More About Yourself (Self-Portraits and Other Autobiographical Endeavors)

Curated by Juno Zago

Like portraits of others, self-portraits often capture likeness in relation to time, place, and life events. They can be emblematic or symbolic of things we believe in, oftentimes saying more about the creator than the artist themselves would care to admit. Therefore the goal of Tell Me More About Yourself (Self-Portraits and Other Autobiographical Endeavors) is for artists to present any work they feel depicts and reflects their true thoughts and form, regardless of whether they imbue the work with their physical image.

This exhibition casts a wide net and captures an impressive variety of interpretations on the ever-present artistic motif, offering the audience a rare treasure trove of old and new takes on the creative confessional that is the self-portrait. 

Featured in the Main Gallery, self-portraits will serve as a prism through which to witness the black experience, both in its beauty and in its struggles. They will celebrate body, self-expression, sex and sexuality. They will wrestle with and find ways to contend with grief. They will mark profound moments in the artist’s life, as well as profound moments in current times. Some will be devoid of figures; others, will present objects as self-portraits, rooms as self-portraits, and alleyways as self-portraits. 

It is an exhibition borrowing from the salon-style presentation, where wildly different artistic expressions coexist under the same banner and no one artwork need be the sole ambassador of a particular point of view. Thus, allowing the abstract self to serve as the expression of being above all else. 

Participating Artists:

Judyann Affronti • Anthony Alvarez •  Nora Evita Aresti • Fran Beallor • Stacy Bogdonoff • Emanuele Cacciatore • Rodríguez Calero • Emily Carpintero • Jordan Corine Cruz • Robin Cross-Keller • Christine DaCruz • Carmen DeCristo • Jonté Drew • Kevin Durkin • David Enriquez • Amy Faris • Maryann Ficker • Benedicto Figueroa • Linda Friedman Schmidt • Judy Giera • Hector Gomez • Vincent Hawley • Sally Helmi • Annabel Hope • JongWon Hwang • Kieren Jeane • Dong Kyu Kim • Monifa Kincaid • Caren King Choi • Robert Kosinski • Joe LaMattina • Max LaRocco • Bryant Lebron • Laura Lou Levy • Carmen Lizardo • Peter Erik Lopez • Joanna Madloch • Debbie Mandel • Dauris Martinez • Carlos Mateu • Kirk Maynard • Bud McNichol • Hannah Miao • Dante Migone-Ojeda • Raymond E. Mingst • Jennifer Anne Moses • J.R. Neyland • Linda Lee Nicholas • Jodie Niss • Joseph O’Neal • Luisa Pinzon • Tania Qurashi • Carol Radsprecher • Glynnis Reed • Gabriel Ribeiro • Martryce Roach • Theda Sandiford • Ollie S​​ían • Sinombre • Geoffrey Stein • Dafna Steinberg • Sharon Steven • Chanika Svetvilas • George Taylor • Bleriot Thompson • Zella Vanié • Ann Vollum • Annemarie Waugh • Noelle Lorraine Williams • Federick Wright Jones • Agnieszka Wszolkowska


Neo-Latino Collective

Curated by Lisette Morel

Participating Artists:

Nelson Alvarez
Josephine Barreiro
Michael Barreto
Hugo X. Bastidas
Olga Bautista
Ricardo Fonseca
Rita Jiménez
Elizabeth Jiménez Montelongo
Alexis Mendoza
Angélica Muñoz Castaño
Gabriel Navar
José Rodeiro
Rodriguez Calero
Lola Sandino Stanton
Nicola Stewart
Raúl Villarreal

Flow features works by international, multigenerational artist organization, the Neo-Latino Collective, a group dedicated to a journey of possibilities where art and life intersect to reflect a truly authentic lived experience. Individually, each of the artists’ works vary, embracing different forms as they express their ideas, their process, and their personal narratives. Collectively, their research-driven creations maneuver and guide us through our challenging surreal times – unapologetically calling it all out and into existence. 

This exhibition invites the audience into the worldview of interdisciplinary visual artists whose dynamic works challenge the confines of identity and gender, respond to the obstacles and disparities faced in the Americas, and amplify the voices of the ever-evolving multitudes of culture. 

Through the range of artistic practices, Flow will question boundaries and limitations, push the concept of the ideal, address ecological and political issues, and connect with the spirit and ancestral heritage within the Latinx narrative through their artistic and theoretical contributions. 

Flow will also pay tribute to the late Raúl Villarreal (1964 – 2019) who in 2003 named the enclave “The Neo-Latinos.” Today, the group continues to be one of the oldest coast-to-coast Latinx art movements of the 21st-century.

Image credit: PersuAsian by Rodriguez Calero

Elevator Music 9: Jeffrey Cobbold

Curated by Juno Zago

Elevator Music 9: Jeffrey Cobboldcurated by Juno Zago, invites music lovers to step inside a refurbished, early-1900s Otis Elevator and connect with original multimedia creations that artfully weave reality, desire, imagination and identity into a brilliant aural tapestry. 

Inspired by his autobiographical experiences, Jeffrey Cobbold’s work acts as a digital storyteller conveying events of his life through journal entries, posters, and other text-based works channeled once again through the practice of music. 

A New Jersey native currently located in New Brunswick, Cobbold is also interested in practical theology and digital humanities, which has expanded his research capabilities in the arts. His works have appeared in the 2016 MarketLab at Sonar+D in Barcelona, Spain, and won 1st place in the 2018-2019 Members Exhibition at Artworks Trenton in Trenton, New Jersey.

Image credit: Samantha Renee Urash

2022 Scholastic Art Awards Gold Key winners

2022 Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition

May 14th – June 3rd, 2022
Awards Ceremony & Opening Reception – May 14th, 3-7pm
Gallery Aferro Main and Memorial Gallery

Gallery Aferro proudly welcomes the 2022 Gold Key winners of the annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards to honor them and their amazing artwork in an exhibition crafted to encourage, inspire and celebrate. A group exhibition unique to our community, the Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition will feature works from more than 10 different art categories created by students from grades 7 through 12 — all of whom are Gold Key winners.

From digital art to fashion to animation to drawing & illustration, more than 900 Northern New Jersey students will receive 2022 Scholastic Art Awards for their work this year, including a youth artist from Newark, who went on to receive national-level awards as well. Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention and American Vision award winners will receive a certificate in a regional awards ceremony on Saturday, May 14, followed immediately by an opening reception for the exhibition.

After the ceremony, Gallery Aferro invites everyone to appreciate all the art created by these brilliant artistic minds while enjoying food, music and camaraderie with an arts community that continues to thrive even during times of great change. Please register for a free ticket here.

For many of the young creatives, this will be the first time seeing their artwork in a professional gallery, but we are certain it won’t be their last.

In Time and In Tide

Armisey Smith

Curated by Evonne M. Davis

After reading about the physical indicators of Covid-19, as reported in the initial phases of the pandemic, Armisey Smith writes, “I reached out to women of color in my personal and artistic circles and requested a selfie with the side-eye as a prominent feature. I painted each subject’s likeness, studying their features and what they were telling me behind their eyes.” 

In Time and In Tide is a unique and powerful reflection of an artist’s deeply brave commitment to expressing and exploring her own times through familiar and visceral visual cues that underscore the causal relationship between the Covid-19 pandemic and systemic racism. Smith’s artwork often takes a critical view of social, political and cultural issues of African-American women and other women of color, including referencing her personal experiences to articulate the weight of America’s social ills.

To bring the artist’s voice directly to the forefront, and to accompany In Time and In Tide, the gallery will be publishing an intimate conversation between Smith and Gallery Aferro co-founder Evonne M. Davis. This artist-to-artist and woman-to-woman interview will provide insights into the remarkable new body of work Smith began in 2020, during the start of the pandemic, the Side-Eye, Pink-Eye series, as well as her overall motivations and philosophy at this point in her career. 

A Brooklyn native now residing in Newark, Smith earned a BFA in Illustration from Parsons School of Design and an MPS in Arts and Cultural Management from the Pratt Institute. In her role as an arts administrator, educator, illustrator, and curator, she has collaborated with essential stakeholders and community-based organizations throughout New York and New Jersey, serving primarily marginalized communities. 

A curatorial statement in three movements, for In Time and In Tide

First Movement:

When an artwork reaches out and grabs you from the inside.

“Sometimes you see an artwork that grabs you, holds you and in some small, almost imperceptible but still measurable way, changes you.

I’m wasting time on social media, when I’m confronted by a face. A woman staring intensely, giving the side-eye, a powerful and knowing presence. She is in a painting by Armisey Smith. I have to know more, I want to see more. I have known Armisey socially for a very long time, I have seen and followed her work for years, admired her work from the sidelines. I ask for a studio visit and am granted one. I have known Armisey’s work to be bold, constructed masks, as well as painted vaginas reminiscent of Virgin Marys, and amazing murals bringing color and beauty to communities all over Newark. Now I know her new works that explode and destroy the “strong black woman” stereotype and instead redefine the local Black woman neighbor and friend as a demigoddess archetype.

This body of work is not simply masterfully crafted. It is a story, a song, and a warning shot. 

Armisey has created beautiful, knowing, and inspiring images of women of all ages that stare intensely from the canvas directly at us, their eyes telling us:

We Know Exactly Who You Are.

We Know Exactly What You Have Done.

Second Movement:

The context of community, and Covid

As the Covid Pandemic developed and took shape in early 2020, as with all things in our society the truth of privilege and safety belonging more to some than to others became apparent. Black communities saw disproportionately high death rates and yet white pundits dominated the air waves with misinformation and gave platform to hateful and dangerous sectors of America. White people evidenced their privilege in their reaction to being asked to wear a mask, or to even acknowledge what was happening.

Frustrated and isolated, Armisey reached out to her community for support and collaboration. She asked other Black women she knew to send her pictures of themselves giving the side-eye, and used those pictures to create this important new series. With daily accounts of another Black person shot or choked by the police, the series surged forward as Armisey used each brushstroke as a meditation to prevent herself from being completely consumed by rage held in. Memories of traumatic childhood experiences, like routinely having rocks hurled at her schoolbus by groups of white people, pushed up.

I find it really notable that at this moment of crisis, she was able to draw on other memories, of her mother and of other important older women family members, and in her words, “the side-eye as a talisman.”

During summer 2020, artist Simone Leigh posted photos from the history of the movement for racial justice, from the mid 20th century. Each photo had a short, devastating caption: “We have tried everything.” When I look at Armisey’s work and listen to her speak about it, I see women who have been tried, and who, in Armisey’s words, “stand their ground” in their humanness, their wholeness, and their glorious layers of individual complexity.

Third movement:

Is it a long arc of justice or a flatline of racism?

As part of a long conversation I had with Armisey recently, we found ourselves talking about “The long arc of Justice.” We talked about Gladys Barker Grauer’s long life, and the sense that the arc of justice is so long, that is longer than one lifetime for sure. Gladys lived to be in her late nineties and fought for justice continuously. What is the shape of the arc? Is it reaching us?

Armisey’s use of the word “flatline,” in answer to that question remains in my mind. It is a visual descriptor for what it feels like unacceptable things keep happening, because they are being allowed to keep happening.

At one point Kay Reese, who like Armisey is an Equity fellowship recipient and a woman artist of color, joined the conversation we were having in Armisey’s studio at Aferro. She is older than us, in her mid-seventies. Here we are, three women, having a really raw and honest conversation where we are basically asking:

Will there ever be justice in this world?

It is unclear to me if the current upheaval in our society around justice and injustice will have a lasting impact on us all. As a culture worker, though, I feel cautiously hopeful that the emergent dialogues in our sector will have an impact on the art world.

If art is what we make to express our inner selves, I believe that everyone who wants to do it, should. I also believe that good art tells a story, and that really great art tells a very personal story in such a way that it can be accessed by a large audience. It finds what carries between different cultural traditions, and sometimes dramatically different life experiences. Another way of saying it is: sometimes when we are at our most nakedly idiosyncratic, our expressiveness is most accessible to others. That is the magic of art- it isn’t some salve we put on things to make them better- it’s when we can tell the whole truth.

This work is very specifically by one amazing Black woman, about her experience. There is something about it that touched me immediately. I hope you will spend time with this work, letting it get inside of you, and almost see inside of you.

In so many ways, since the pandemic began, the masks have come off.” -Evonne M. Davis

Image: After Mia X by Armisey Smith

Mt Rushmore by Caren King Choi

Drawn In: Caren King Choi

Curated by Caren King Choi & Candace Nicholson

Drawn In is an exhibition that presents two visually divergent bodies of work by one artist. Caren King Choi applies drastically different techniques from the meditative and studied Red Portraits to the quick and humorous Motherhood Doodles. Nevertheless, both are a part of the artist’s overarching attempt to truthfully portray elements of her identity which remain largely underrepresented in the dominant visual culture. 

As an artist, illustrator and writer, Choi’s multimedia artistic practice has taken many forms throughout her career: intricate portraits, personal essays, hand-sewn dolls, life-size drawings, flipbooks, and lots and lots of doodles. A sense of playfulness and wry observation often permeates her work, as do moments of stillness and reflection.

A native New Jersey artist of Chinese-Taiwanese descent, Choi’s artwork has appeared in exhibitions at the Pollak Gallery, Gallery at 14 Maple, William Paterson University Gallery, Express Newark, Akwaaba Gallery, and the Newark Museum of Art. 

After serving as an arts administrator, educator and program director at the Paul Robeson Galleries for a decade, Choi began a new career as a full-time mom and homemaker in 2018. The profound change led to a new creative chapter in her life and her art, captured irreverently in two self-published books: Every Day Something New: Doodles by a New Mom (2019) and Let It Happen: Doodles From a Parent’s First Year (2021).

Image: Mt. Rushmore (Nieces and Nephews) by Caren King Choi

Elevator Music 8: Boston Typewriter Orchestra

Curated by Juno Zago

Elevator Music 8: Boston Typewriter Orchestra, curated by Juno Zago, beckons visitors to walk inside a refurbished, early-1900s Otis Elevator and embrace the creative rhythms and playful whimsy of one of America’s most eclectic musical troupes.

Founded in 2004, the Boston Typewriter Orchestra (BTO) is a collective percussive ensemble for typewriter and voice based in the greater Boston area. Entertaining with collaborative rhythmic, comedic, and satiric performances, BTO seeks to educate and evangelize the archaic machines they use, and grant folks an opportunity to experience a visceral connection to history and industrial technology like never before.

In Elevator Music 8, BTO has taken their upcycled, recontextualized music, and returned to the office, this time in the warm, seemingly stale confines of an Otis elevator car. This original piece produced for Gallery Aferro’s unique installation harmonizes existing compositions with new evocative sounds, callouts, and textures, and explores the intimacy and anxiety we all feel when fleetingly sharing 150 cubic feet with a group of strangers.

In addition to their original works, BTO is pleased to include collaborations here from other sonic visionaries: interdisciplinary artist Brian Dewan of Catskill, New York, and grindcore legends Full of Hell of Ocean City, Maryland. Elizabeth Donovan of Brookline, Massachusetts, delivers the “next stop” announcements, a calming beacon amidst the irascible machines.

BTO has released several singles and five albums, the most recent of which is a collection of remixes entitled Delegation. The ensemble members included/includes: Derrik Albertelli, Jeff Breeze, James Brockman, Alex Holman, Chris Keene, Erik Lindahl, Steve Mazzulli, Jay O’Grady, Brendan Quigley, and Chris Webb.

Learn more about BTO at www.bostontyperwriterorchestra.com, then follow them on FacebookInstagramYouTube and Twitter, then purchase their work via their Bandcamp page.

Image courtesy of BTO