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Artwork shines at International African Arts Festival

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Young artists: From left, Assata Alexander, Wazzala Joseph and Shashamane Alexander show off some of their art at the International African Arts Festival on July 4.
Artist Karain Water with Assata Alexander at the International African Arts Festival.
Elyssa Nicole with a fan from her store Diaspora Africa.
The drinks: Vendors Yusef Abdul-Jaleel and Taeesha Muhammad show off Sorrel, a Brooklyn made drink.
Colorful work: Various types of art were displayed by vendors and artists at the festival celebrating the artistry of the African Diaspora.

Art for all.

Thousands of art enthusiasts packed the 46th International African Arts Festival at Commodore Barry Park in Fort Greene on July 3. The annual festival celebrating the music and artistry of the African Diaspora attracts many people, particularly frequent visitors who always attend every year, and come to showcase their work, said one woman.

“I’ve been going for years and I’m a big fan,” said Karain Water, an artist and jewelry maker who began attending the festival since the early 90s.

Water and a friend set up a booth to sell some of their jewelry and artwork and even tattoo some of the guests. And even her gal pal’s children got in on the business with their own crafts.

“They are upcoming artists as well and sold some of their art,” she said. “They had jewelry trinkets made out of pipe cleaners, and they were selling post-cards that they drew.”

She said that the festival’s family atmosphere was a good opportunity for encouraging children with an interest in the arts and provides them with a learning experience.

“I like it very much because it’s very family-oriented,” said Water. “I grew up with this festival and we bring our kids here because they are part of the next art generation that’s going to keep the festival going.”

The four-day outdoor event saw performances from bands and artist including British Dependency, Gary Nesta Pine and The Love Generation Band, and Denroy Morgan.

For other longtime festival goers, the event was another chance to take in the musical performances and catch up with old friends.

“There were so many good performances this year and I really enjoyed the music — it was a great day,” said Taeesha Muhammad. “I’ve been coming to the festival since I was child and it’s like a reunion sometimes since I know many of the vendors.”

Muhammad said a memorable moment for her at this year’s festival was seeing so many artists compared to the previous festivals.

“As an artist it was nice to see all of the different types of artwork — I usually see maybe one or two sometimes, but it was nice to see all the art,” she said.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at
Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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