The Savannah African Art Museum will be hosting a Kwanzaa Marketplace every Friday in December. Now in its second year, the Kwanzaa Marketplace will feature artists and vendors selling artwork, jewelry and other goods that are either from Africa or inspired by African culture. Organizers say the marketplace is a great opportunity to learn about Kwanzaa, shop for unique items and celebrate the cultural diversity of our community.
The museum’s education coordinator Lisa Jackson came up with the idea for the Kwanzaa Marketplace from her own experience putting together similar events in the past.“I’m from Brooklyn, New York, and I
worked with a lot of different groups that do a lot of these cultural events. We would do Kwanzaa events and have different artists and a marketplace, so it was something that I was accustomed to doing. It was something that I suggested we do last year, so we did,” she explained.
Last year, the Kwanzaa Marketplace took place on two days, featuring just two vendors. This year, the museum staff decided to expand the event and feature more artists. Several of the featured artists and vendors participated in the museum’s Juneteenth celebration and are returning for the Kwanzaa Marketplace. For Jackson, fostering relationships with the artists and vendors is key.
“We have a relationship with several of the artists here at the museum. Some are employees and one is a docent here,” she explained.
Most of the vendors are local to Savannah, making the Kwanzaa Marketplace a great place to discover local art. In addition to the marketplace, guests will be able to tour the museum and make the connection between the items on sale and the artworks on exhibit.
“We have over a thousand pieces of African art from West Africa and Central Africa. So people can come and make that direct connection,” said Jackson.
She encourages the community to come out and attend the marketplace and learn about Kwanzaa, which is observed between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1.
“Kwanzaa is an African American holiday based on an African celebration called First Fruits. . . This is a time of harvest, gathering, exchanging of goods and celebration within the community. It’s a cultural celebration . . . People can come out and see what it is connected to and why we’re celebrating it. They’ll learn the different principles of Kwanzaa. This is a good place for people to come and learn more,” she explained.
‘It’s extremely important to celebrate our cultural diversity because it helps us get to know each other better and to know the history and the culture in order to respect and understand it. And in doing so, hopefully bring about more harmony,” said Jackson.
In addition to the marketplace, the Savannah African Art Museum will host a special Kwanzaa workshop on Saturday, Dec. 10. Participants will learn about the cultural observance and its significance, and they’ll also create their own Kwanzaa banner. The workshop is the final installment of the museum’s “African Symbols: Past & Present” series, which has been educating the public about African symbols.
“With so much excitement about the two films released this fall, the “Black Panther” sequel and “Woman King,” while people are interested in Africa [we decided] to provide some information in connection to that. . . We did different workshops based on some of the African symbols, some that you might have seen in the two films and others that you might not know about,” Jackson began. “So, Kwanzaa is the last of the series . . . There are symbols that are principles of Kwanzaa. There are certain symbols for each day for those principles. So, this is the wrap up,” she continued.
Each Friday, the museum will host different vendors selling a variety of goods. Up first is local African imports market Diaspora Marketplace, which will offer home decor, clothing and jewelry on Dec. 2. The following week on Dec. 9, the Kwanzaa Marketplace will feature Viyanca, a fine artist and book illustrator selling printed and original works; Ari’s Handmade Jewelry, a mother daughter duo offering handmade pieces; and Torreah ‘Cookie’ Washington, a master quilter and teacher originally from Morocco. Ghana native and fine artist William Kwamena-Poh will be the featured vendor on Dec. 16 with original paintings and prints available. The Kwanzaa Marketplace will conclude on Dec. 23 with Savanna Naturals, which specializes in all-natural handmade body care products; Ingrid J Boutique, which vends handmade clothing and accessories; and Obi Nwosisi, a Nigerian-born visual artist with a variety of prints and original works available for purchase.
Both the workshop and the Kwanzaa Marketplace are free and open to the public, however registration is required for the workshop.
For more information, visit savannahafricanartmuseum.org