PRIZM Art Fair is an annual art fair that produces a cutting-edge platform that is multidisciplinary in scope. PRIZM’s mission is to expand the spectrum of exhibiting international artists from Africa, the African diaspora and emerging markets, who reflect global trends in contemporary art. These artists bring into focus socio-political and cultural issues pertinent to the people of African descent in Miami and around the world. Each year the fair highlights different curators to present salient works in solo presentations that highlight the diversity in contemporary visual art practices today. PRIZM operates workshops and special events throughout the year to advance critical dialogue and sharpen the lens through which we view and understand contemporary art. In addition to engaging nationally and internationally, PRIZM has a strong commitment to the local Miami cultural community. PRIZM works to expand the visual arts landscape of Miami, nurture and educate its constituents and provide forums for cross-cultural exchange, bringing a broader audience to new and existing local art spaces.

Prizm 2021 Focus

The year 2020 brought with it a collective reckoning of America’s unresolved history of racial injustice, a global health crisis that prematurely took many lives, and a resulting recession pushing forward an underpaid workforce under the label of ‘essential workers’. Pulling from a hopeful heart, I couldn’t help but imagine that 2021 would provide some reprieve from such a tragic year: emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Prizm was spared. We were able to pivot, building an online platform that presented a powerful selection of contemporary artists from across the diaspora, directly to homes and mobile phones across the globe. This allowed us to continue our mission to expand and support the wide spectrum of exhibiting international artists from Africa, the African diaspora, and emerging markets during a precarious period when artists needed support the most.

In that time, as the world was pushed into self-sequestration, I fell deep into my own existential crisis, caught in a cul-de-sac of societal entanglements. I gave myself permission to slow down, be introspective, and to intentionally process my thoughts and feelings—allowing myself to be a student, listening and leaning into my imagination. What transpired through this unavoidable journey and transformation is what led to the vision of Prizm 2021: Points of Contact. I enlisted the wisdom of global leaders in Black Existentialist thought as pivotal Points of Contact, searching for grounding in a world that seems to poach Black identity whilst simultaneously endeavoring to disconnect Black people from the continuum of Black identity.

I examined Black existentialism and its precepts as explored in the writings of scholars like Chinua Achebe, Aime Cesaire, Angela Davis, W.E.B. DuBois, Frantz Fanon, bell hooks, and Sylvia Winter. Visionaries who’s works shout, “Now here I am; and there I am; and all I am; Free to be anywhere at all in the Universe,” as did Toni Cade Bambara (The Salt Eaters 1980). And further uncovered themes of liberation reimagined by Toni Morrison, and Chimamanda Ngozi, as a school of thought that interrogates and critiques domination and affirms the empowerment of Black people in the world. My deep dive provided some humanistic clarity in the murky waters we've been wading in these past few months.

The central question living at the core of many of the texts I read was, "What would my life be, as a person of African lineage, if I didn't have to consider, factor in, or negotiate constructs of racism and other similar disruptive social maladies? What does a collective understanding of Black existentialism mean for the global African diaspora and humanity at large?" Because as Broadus Butler posits in his essay Frederick Douglass: The Black Philosopher in the United States, "African American thought is human-centric, as opposed to the system centrism…” that confines Black being.

Akin to the futures envisioned by Octavia Butler and other Black futurist thinkers, Points of Contact envisages Black existentialism in this contemporary moment through various material praxes as Prizm continues to expand beyond the physical realm (and within digital and online formats). Our 2021 exhibiting artists will challenge notions of Black identity and what it means to get free through painting, sculpture, drawing, mixed media and photography, and the fair will open up opportunities for more equitable models of ownership—allowing the public to invest and reinvest in art in ways we hadn’t explored in the past.

Cover Image: Pauline Marcelle, Tales of the Unexpected, Mixed Media/Oil on Canvas, 31 x 47 in, 80cm x 120cm, 2019.

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