‘Like no other’: The African Festival of Arts returns to Chicago this weekend

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It was sidelined for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic and, as CBS 2’s Jim Williams told us, the event returns this year under the banner “Back to Culture, Back to Tradition.”

Dana Easter’s creations are the result of painstaking and precise work.

“I dye it. I paint it. I print it. I silk screen it,” Easter said. “So, it is art, but it’s just to wear.”

It’s called wearable art and it’s on the backs of people around the world.

I’ve had people say ‘I was in London and I saw your t-shirt or I saw your outfit. I knew it was Dana,'” she said.

Williams: “This week though, you’re in one spot.

Easter: “I’m in one spot, the African Festival of the Arts.”

The African Festival of the Arts, which return this weekend after a two-year hiatus, will feature every conceivable expression of Black culture: paintings, sculptures, fashion, food and music.

“This festival is very important to me,” said Dayo Laoye, an artist and Nigerian native.

The art festival reflects the rich spirit and traditions that artists like Laoye found in Chicago when he moved to the city 32 years ago.

“The African culture for the last 400 years is still embedded in some part of America and some people, especially here on the South and West Side in Chicago,” he said. “So finding Africa here made me stay longer.”

The African Festival of the Arts, Laoye said, has helped create a bigger market for the work of Black artists, including his own.

“They represent all the gestures of our moods as Black people in America,” he said, adding, “Through this festival, I was able to build my clientele.”

Patrick Woodtor founded the festival 33 years ago and has watched it blossom into a “national attraction.”

“This is like a family reunion every year,” Woodton said. “Every year and people come as far as California, New York, Florida.”

And Woodtor said it’s sparked similar festival across the country.

“I’m so excited about it,” said Easter.

But this weekend, the center of the Black art world will be in Chicago’s Washington Park.

“It’s just an exciting weekend for family, for art, entertainment,” Easter said. “It’s like no other.”

CBS 2 is a proud media sponsor of the festival. It runs Friday through Monday, Labor Day, in Washington Park.

SourceCBS News
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