Evonne M. Davis, Artistic Director Emerita
Evonne Davis is a working artist, as well as the co-founder and Artistic Director of Gallery Aferro and formerly Gallery/Education Director at City Without Walls, both in Newark, NJ. Originally from the Woodstock, NY area, she studied at School of Visual Arts and Cornell University.
Her current practice involves sculptural installations and experimental video. Her work deals with labor, systems, class, language, and the juxtapositions present in everyday life. Her work is informed by a deep love of modern and contemporary poetry, and an insatiable curiosity about human nature. She has exhibited at venues such as the Krampf Gallery, NYC, Theater for the New City in NYC, Walsh Gallery in Orange NJ, Prtizker Gallery in Poughkeepsie, NY, College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, NY, Alley Culture in Detroit, MI, and countless other galleries and alternative spaces nationwide.
Davis has curated independent and affiliated exhibitions for the past 14 years in innovative as well as traditional settings, including a vacant lot in Coney Island and the back of a 1978 Volvo. Her goal is connect any willing audience with cultural experience.. Other locations include The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Valley Arts, Ironworks Gallery, Brooklyn Borough Hall, Studio 411, Red Saw Gallery, Arts Guild of New Jersey, Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster, NJ, Print Making Center of NJ, Seton Hall University, and 207 Gallery, among many others.
Her 2002 exhibition, Nostalgia and Decay, which originated in Coney Island, Brooklyn was moved to Borough Hall at the invitation of the Brooklyn Borough President. This exhibition focused on the ways that artists and residents were inspired by the now-demolished Thunderbolt Rollercoaster, a functional ride that also the caretaker’s family home. Other relevant community-led history work includes videography for WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, the major 2007 exhibition on feminist art and activism 1965-80. Davis worked on interviews for the NYC-based artists, recording their testimonies. She has also facilitated partnerships with Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art, Newark Arts Council, The Polish Cultural Institute, Brick City Development Corporation, Camera Club of New York, The Newark Museum, The Montclair Museum, and many others.
She has worked with youth in a variety of contexts including creative writing for at-risk youth at the NYC LGBT Youth Center – The Zone, attendance counseling for the NYC BOE, and as a mentor in City Without Wall’s Artreach Program. She was a member of the Arts High School Advisory Committee, and the NPS AV Committee, the City of Newark Committee on Arts, Culture, Tourism and Heritage as well as a former co-chair of the City of Newark Public Art Committee. She currently serves as a trustee with the Greater Newark Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and on the Arts Pride Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
She was one of 14 senior executives from New Jersey nonprofit organizations selected to participate in the Prudential Foundation Nonprofit Executive Fellows Program at the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School, and was selected to be part of the Institute’s Cultural and Ethnic Arts Executive Leadership (CEA) Program as one of 16 nationwide participants.
Emma Wilcox, Executive Director
Emma Wilcox is a working artist and writer as well as the co-founder of Gallery Aferro. Over the past decade, she has worked with co-founder Evonne M. Davis to develop hundreds of exhibitions, residencies, education programs, public art initiatives, as well as 22 publications. Many of these efforts have been highly collaborative in nature, involving other nonprofits and collectives, such as our 2012 digital animation “remixes” by Newark youth of Newark Museum collection artworks, or our 2013 project, Jan Sawka 1946-2012: Reflections on Everyman, which focused on the life and work on Polish exile, artist and activist Jan Sawka, including Sawka’s support of the Solidarity movement, or our ongoing project about Newark’s Kea Tawana and her ark, a large-scale community oral history project in collaboration with the Price Institute for Ethnicity, Race and the Modern Experience, Rutgers-Newark. Wilcox maintains an artistic and curatorial interest in history, including the history of artist communities, as well as Newark’s overall history.
As a photographer she is concerned with environmental justice, land usage, eminent domain, and the role of individual memory in the creation of local history. Solo exhibitions: Where it Falls, The Print Center, Philadelphia, PA and William Patterson University Galleries, Wayne, NJ, 2012, Emma Wilcox, 2010 at Gitterman Gallery, New York, NY, Salvage Rights, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT, 2009 and Forensic Landscapes, Jersey City Museum, 2007. She is the recipient of a Harpo Foundation Grant for Where It Falls, a NoMAA Creative Grant, a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship for photography, the Camera Club of NY residency, the Newark Museum Residency and was a core participant in Night School at the New Museum in 2008. She was featured on Women in Photography, the New Yorker, American Suburb X, and Black and White Magazine, was reviewed in Art In America, and has written for Bomb Magazine, Zing Magazine, and Influence. She regularly leads gallery tours for all ages at Gallery Aferro, and is a frequent guest speaker for a variety of universities and other organizations including the NJ Historical Society. Her TedX talk about art, audience, community, power dynamics, resistance, and the “strange and enduring power of arts experiences” such as the Aferro Mobile Portrait Studio can be viewed here.
Candace Nicholson, Gallery Director
Candace Nicholson is a self-described organizational egghead by day and a cultural aficionado by night. Plying her trade in the written word, she uses her 20 years of experience in publishing and marketing to sing the praises of artists and helps those who feel ordinary connect with the extraordinary.
Originally hailing from the Midwest, Nicholson listened to Horace Greeley and took her passion for journalism and moved west in 2004. And when the recession hit, like Greeley, she moved back east. This time, to the East Coast, finally settling in the city of Newark, where her love and obsession with the arts continues to flourish.
Although not a practicing visual artist, Nicholson’s commitment to connection through creative expression has led her to a host of unique opportunities that leave her well-suited for the role of Gallery Director at Gallery Aferro. Whether writing about the arts from coast to coast; working on projects with independent creatives in the world of music, theater and fine arts; or helping nonprofits and charities promote their causes and community efforts through engaging marketing campaigns, Nicholson enjoys melding left-brain methodology with right-brain visionary pursuits.
She joined Gallery Aferro to help facilitate the role of supporting the arts, artist-led spaces, and nonprofit organizations. With a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a concentration in Communications, she has created content for a variety of print and online publications including Sky Blue Window, Robb Report Luxury Home, The Firemen’s Grapevine, LA2Day.com, IndyConcerts.com, Small Business Bonfire, TheBalance.com, New Jersey Stage, and Blast FM radio in the U.K. A lifelong student of history, the arts and community engagement, Nicholson is proud to be a part of Gallery Aferro as the organization continues to grow in Newark.
Juno Zago, Creative Director
João (Juno) Zago is a queer visual artist working in Newark, NJ. Born in Brazil, Zago came to the US in 2005 where he’s since lived in and around Newark. In 2016 he obtained his BA in Visual Art from Ramapo College of New Jersey.
Since graduating from Ramapo College, Zago curated for Newark Open Doors: Citywide Arts Festival, worked as a gallery assistant at Aljira, a Center for Contemporary, as artist assistant to Dread Scott in Brooklyn, NY, and as an artist assistant to Cicely Cottingham and Victor Davson in West Orange, NJ. From his start at Gallery Aferro in March of 2017, he’s worn various hats, the primary one being Registrar for nearly six years. In 2023 he was promoted to Creative Director, a role that sees him taking lead on the exhibition and programatic schedule at Gallery Aferro. Zago strives for quality in his work, and hopes to continuously grow in his abilities as an arts professional and to further engage with the Newark arts community in meaningful ways. His wish is to amplify artists’ voices in this and other communities.
Zago’s also been an artist in residence at Gallery Aferro and has exhibited at Gallery Aferro, Index Art Center, Equal Space and Akwaaba Gallery all in Newark, NJ, Studio Montclair in Montclair, NJ and Catalyst Gallery in Beacon, NY. His work’s been exhibited at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, NJ and the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ. He is one of the 2020 grantee recipients of the Newark Artist Accelerator Fund.
As an artist, Zago wants to bring together disparate media and images to create process-based compositions on paper, panel and canvas. His works dwell in themes like introspection and sexuality, as well as internet/meme culture – not so much the humor, but the fast-paced, image-based nature that sees pictures appropriated in inventive and unexpected ways. He is a mixed media, process-based painter/collage artist who uses different quotidian and dispensable materials in his practice. Magazine pages, soda bottle labels, scrap vinyl from graphic design projects. Unseemly throwaways from day-to-day life – with me they have a new home.
Angelica Dalzon, Gallery Assistant
Angelica Dalzon is a Haitian-American illustrator based in Newark, NJ. Growing up in a Haitian-Baptist church has significantly informed her artistic sensibilities as an illustrator and art facilitator, rooting her with a deep sense of cultural compassion. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in 2022, with a focus in Illustration. It was there that she cultivated a passion for developing BIPOC-centered creative spaces as the President of the Black Student Union. In addition to her time at SVA, Dalzon’s co-curated group show “The Way We See Us”(2022) featured the creative agency of Black students, despite pressures to perform blackness in their art practice and daily lives. She later interned at the Studio Museum in Harlem as a Teen Programs Intern, assisting with the Expanding the Walls: Making Connections Between Photography, History, and Community photography-based program for Harlem and upper-Manhattan teens.
Post graduation, Dalzon became an associate of the Society of Illustrators, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art of illustration and its legacy. Dalzon currently shines in her position of Gallery Assistant at Gallery Aferro as of March 2023, where she provides administrative and curatorial relief, and continues to support the integrity of artists and their work.
As a working digital illustrator, her art is rooted in centering black women’s versatility, beauty, vulnerability, and joy. Through various modes of storytelling, Dalzon aims to humanize her community in every and any genre. She maintains a particular curiosity for themes and imagery regarding black spirituality, childhood, surrealism, and the-everyday. Her work is informed by a plethora of writing styles, including poetry, song lyrics, novels, and her favorite animated television series. She hopes that in all aspects of her work, creatively and professionally, individuals can find space where they are seen and heard regardless of talent, class, or ethnicity.
Gallery Aferro’s Board of Directors
Jorge Santos, Alicia Lucas, Emily Manz, Gwen Charles, Evonne M. Davis and Emma Wilcox
We gratefully acknowledge the support of our funders, sponsors and the individual donors who make our programs possible.
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation