CCCADI’s Virtual Curator In Conversation With Maria Elena Ortiz And O’Neil Lawrence

November 30, 2020

The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) is pleased to present the next session in their popular virtual Curators in Conversation series.

The series can be accessed on Thursday, December 10, 2020, at 6:00 pm featuring Maria Elena Ortiz, the curator at the Perez Art Museum Miami.

Ortiz is spearheading their Caribbean Cultural Institute and O’Neil Lawrence, chief curator of The National Gallery of Jamaica and co-curator of the Jamaica Biennial 2017. Serving as moderator is Grace Aneiza Ali, CCCADI’s Curator-at-Large

Ortiz and Lawrence will discuss shared concerns and intersecting ideas in their curatorial practice, their commitment to elevating the curatorial research and scholarship on Caribbean artists, and their efforts to promote artistic exchange between Black communities in the US and the Caribbean.

As curators with leadership roles at institutions in service to Caribbean Art, Ortiz and Lawrence will also share their thoughts on the role of the curator and the future of museums in navigating this fragile yet generative moment.

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María Elena Ortiz is a Curator at PAMM, where she is spearheading its Caribbean Cultural Institute.

At PAMM, Ortiz has organized several projects including the recent The Other Side of Now: Foresight in Contemporary Caribbean Art (2019) and Latinx Art Sessions (2019).

Ortiz has contributed to writing platforms such as the Davidoff Art Initiative, Terremoto Magazine, and others.

A recipient of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC) and Independent Curators International (ICI) Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean, Ortiz’s curatorial practice is informed by the connections between Latinx, Latin American, and Black communities in the US and the Caribbean.

O’Neil Lawrence is Chief Curator at the National Gallery of Jamaica (Kingston) and provides curatorial oversight for their western branch National Gallery West (Montego Bay) as well as stewardship and development of Jamaica’s national art collection.

He served as lead curator on recent exhibitions such as I Shall Return Again (2018) and Beyond Fashion(2018) and co-curator of the Jamaica Biennial 2017.

Lawrence has contributed essays to publications on Caribbean Art, including Pictures from Paradise: A Survey of Contemporary Caribbean Photography and Histórias Afro-Atlânticas Vol 2 Antologia (MASP 2018).

He currently serves on the Advisory Council of the Caribbean Art Initiative.

Guyanese-American Grace Aneiza Ali serves as Curator-at-Large for the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in New York.

She is an Assistant Professor and Provost Fellow in the Department of Art & Public Policy at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

Ali’s curatorial research and teaching practice centers on curatorial activism, socially engaged art practices, global contemporary art, and art of the Caribbean Diaspora with a focus on her homeland Guyana.

Ali is the editor of the recent publication, Liminal Spaces: Migration and Women of the Guyanese Diaspora (Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK).

Visual Arts @ CCCADI – Exhibitions & Curators: Since its founding in 1976, the intersection of arts, culture and social justice has been the foundation of CCCADI exhibitions program.

For over 43 years, CCCADI has promoted the aesthetics and creative expressions of artists, scholars and researchers focused on connecting African Diaspora themes in their work.

Through these efforts the Center has championed the work of illustrious curators such as Lowery Sims, C. Daniel Dawson, Marta Moreno Vega, Mora J. Byrd, Shantrelle P. Lewis, Grace Aneiza Ali, Paulo Bispo, Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez, Desiree Gordon, Marinieves Alba, Robert Farris Thompson, and Henry Frank.

The Center has consistently provided space for artists, exhibitions, and dialogues across generational connections to provide cultural context, expansion and deepening of cultural threads that are shared by artists of the African Diaspora.

CCCADI, located in East Harlem, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) is a nonprofit arts, culture, education, and media organization that advances cultural equity, racial and social justice for African Diaspora communities.

Each of CCCADI’s programs asserts the centrality and relevance of African, African American, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Latino culture.

Weaving together four broad categories: Learning, Expressions, Spirituality and Exchange, CCCADI carries out its mission through advocacy, public art exhibitions, public performances, educational programs, internships, fellowships, workshops, conferences, international exchange, and collaborative partnerships.

This past Juneteenth, 2020, CCCADI launched the #ArtsGoBlack campaign to challenge the arts and culture field to actively address racial inequality.

For more information, please visit:

For additional information and to access virtual exhibitions and programs please visit:

Photo credit: 1) Maria Elena Ortiz. 2) O’Neil Lawrence. 3) Grace Aneiza Ali.

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