Corredor Afro, Puerto Rico

Taking Control of Your Own Story

Corredor Afro, a new art space in Loíza, Puerto Rico, wants to establish creative and artistic links between the African Diaspora and Africa. C& América Latina talked to Marta Moreno Vega, professor, curator and ex director of the Museo del Barrio in New York. Together with sociologist Maricruz Rivera Clemente, Moreno Vega has founded Corredor Afro.

C&AL: What plans do you have for the future of Corredor Afro?

MMV: We are very clear that we don’t want to replicate what already exists. At the base line, Corredor Afro is a think tank, it’s bringing creative thought to what is needed for our community. I am against building institutions that have to fit into a funder’s criterion. This is an opportunity to think out of the box, decolonize a process, decolonize our minds. I am very pleased that Ghana and Senegal are developing museums, but at this time in my life I am wary of museums. I understand that they are important to preserve artifacts; I understand that it is important for Africa to reclaim that which has been stolen and put it in a safe place; but I am also very conscious that museums are places that have been complicit with hierarchy, colonization and places where the rape of our cultures and artifacts has happened. My hope is that we don’t replicate that, because even if it is replicated in an African style, it is still colonization, it is still devoid of spirit. I don’t think we want to be a replica of what has raped us. The intention for Corredor Afro is creating a creative, innovative process of development – and we have to understand it as a process.

I feel that, as we build together with people who believe in what we are trying to do, it will attract whatever we need to attract in order to continue. If we are going to break out of being colonial subjects, we have to be free thinkers that can analyze, that can critically think and break bondages that have been instilled over time. So that is this process.

This is why creating community based institutions is critical; we need to develop and sustain spaces of historical correctness and creative expression that honors our legacy and aesthetic vision. We need to hear from our community leaders, scholars, sacred leaders and artists addressing our philosophical and aesthetic mission and vision. We must not allow our legacy to be erased or defined by others. In creating our institutions the valuing of who we were, are and are to become is our responsibility.

More information about Corredo Afro:

Marta Moreno Vega, an educator and Professor of African and Latino studies, served as the second director of Museo del Barrio in 1969 and co-curated the exhibition 500 Years of Puerto Rican Art in both El Museo and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was a founder of the Association of Hispanic Arts and a Senior Rockefeller Fellow recipient that led to establishing the Caribbean Cultural Center in 1974. She stepped down from her directorship three years ago to live in Puerto Rico full-time. Maricruz Rivera Clemente, co-founder of Corredor Afro, also created Corporación Piñones se Integra (COPI), an Afro-Puerto-Rican-based institution capturing the stories, history and intelligences of the Piñones neighbourhood in Loíza for the past twenty years.

Lisa C Soto is a visual artist and author who was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up in New York and in a traditional town in southern Spain. Her Caribbean heritage and her continuous displacement between continents and islands have informed her artistic production.