Diasporal Rhythms seeks to build a passionate group of collectors engaged in actively collecting visual art created by contemporary artists of the African Diaspora as well as to expand the appreciation of those artists’ work.
On September 6, 2002 the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) hosted a Collectors Forum, the first in a series of seminars held in 2002 and 2003 that brought together, and provided dialogue among, the African American visual arts community in Chicago. On the panel for that Collectors Forum were: Carol J. Briggs, Principal of the Jean Baptise Pointe DuSable High Schooland a private art collector; Joan D. Crisler, Principal of the Arthur Dixon Elementary School and Curator of the Dixon School Collection; Daniel T. Parker, Emeritus Professor, Olive-Harvey College and a private art collector; and me, Patric McCoy, Environmental Scientist, USEPA and a private art collector. This was the first time the members of that panel had been brought together to discuss their collections. We listened intently to each other’s presentations. Each panelist successfully conveyed in their presentation both the thoughtfulness and the passion involved in their collecting of African American fine art. Common themes emerged from the presentations - each panelist had a special passion for works of the African American and African diasporal artists that were actively producing in the Chicago area; each noted that most of those artists were neither given the recognition within, and outside of the community, that the quality of their work merited; and those artists’ works had special meaning for the African-American culture, especially for the youth. We parted with an enhanced appreciation of each others’ commitment to promoting and preserving our culture through the collecting of contemporary African American art. On February 15, 2003, I attended an artists panel discussion held in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago’s Century of Collecting African-American Art exhibition. The African American artists’ conflicting positions, heatedly expressed, on the importance of that show were both enlightening and confusing to me. Later that day I was introduced to Nathaniel McLin, art critic for Kennedy-King College radio station, WKKC. He too had attended the panel discussion. In our discussion on the dynamics of that panel and why the artists were in disagreement, Mr. McLin clearly identified to me the central importance of the ‘collector’ in the evolution and preservation of a culture; in the establishment and growth of museums and archival institutions within that culture; and in the identification, validation and promotion of those creative persons producing works of cultural importance. That conversation charged me to pursue the formation of an organization of collectors of contemporary African-American art for the purpose of addressing the issues raised in the Collectors Forum and in the artists panel. By May 2003 the original collectors on the SSCAC Collectors Forum had met several times and, because of a shared belief that we and like minds should be an initial force in the validation and preservation of our own visual arts culture, agreed to form an organization to further the following mission: 1.To build a passionate group of collectors engaged in the activity of collecting visual art created by contemporary artists of the African Diaspora. 2. To expand appreciation of visual art created by contemporary artists of the African Diaspora. We have chosen “Diasporal Rhythms” as the name for our organization because the term was used by Dr. Richard Powell in his book Black Art - A Cultural History to describe Jeff Donaldson's 1967 painting Victory in Zimbabwe. Dr. Powell said “ [the painting] is also [a] black disaporal rhythm...” In the 1960's and 70's, Jeff Donaldson, as an artist, worked out of the South Side Community Art Center and co-founded AfriCobra. With our name we honor the artists of the AfriCobra movement, the Works Project Administration artists, the Post war artists and all contemporary and future artists that will create diasporal rhythms.