‘Brooklyn is Africa’: Artifacts on Display in Bed-Stuy

African art and artifact collector Eric Edwards with The Dogan Woman. (Photo By Sherrie Young via Kings County Politics)

Tikar mask, early 20th century from Cameroon (Photo via Kings County Politics)

Since 1971, Eric Edwards of Bedford-Stuyvesant has been collecting African tribal artifacts through his travels, at auctions and from other collectors. The retired electrical engineer has amassed 2,500 artifacts from 24 countries that span 4,000 years, “the largest such collection in America,” reports Sherrie Young for Kings County Politics.

And now, 80 of them are featured in the Cultural Museum of African Art exhibition “Brooklyn is Africa: A Borough of Inclusion; A Continent of Invention” at the Restoration Plaza’s Skylight Gallery in Bed-Stuy. Edwards is the museum’s founder and executive director.

Upon entering the Gallery, one can feel Edwards’s passion to preserve and educate others. Even though the pieces are seen as art, they are not for decorative purposes, but represent the values and customs of the different ethnic groups throughout Africa. Among the exhibit is the Ekoi E Jagham Headress Shrine, late 19th century from Yoruba, Nigeria and the Tikar Mask, early 20th century from Cameroon.

Go to Kings County Politics to read how Edwards once endured “blizzard conditions” to obtain an artifact and how an aspect of a 4,000-year-old piece is reflected is modern-day Bed-Stuy.

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