YOLAH! (Youth of La Habana), a photo exhibit that showcases the African diaspora across the globe, has opened at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center for a five-week run.
The exhibit featuring the photography of LeRoy Hazzard and Saddi Khali, opened Saturday at the center, 6161 NW 22nd Ave., and will be on display through Jan. 5.
Hazzard, a native New Yorker, shot his photos in Cuba and had not publically shared his work for about five years.
“Basically I didn’t go to shoot, I just had my camera and it developed to a point where I just could not stop [shooting],” Hazzard said of his impromptu photo journey. “At the time I went it was about 2010. The structure of the place is beautiful, the time. Cuba, when I first landed there, I was in shock. As I was landing in the plane, I looked out and said ‘Oh, my goodness.’ It looked like a city of Lego chips.”
YOLAH! is one of three installations being curated at the cultural center, along with a Celia Cruz memorabilia exhibit sponsored by The Celia Cruz Legacy Foundation.
“Our main aim is to make sure that art is prevalent in all of our heritage spaces,” said Bart Mervil of Miami Urban Contemporary Experience (M.U.S.E), the team that produced the exhibit. “We want to make sure that all of the places of color are actually getting the art. Making sure that we are a part of the conversation, we are a part of narrative and also a part of the pot that is getting some of that money that is coming to our town.”
“When Lee [Hazzard] showed his work from Afro Cuba, documenting the youth of Afro Cuba, we thought it was just a great element to bring into the city,” said Ashlee Thomas, president of M.U.S.E. “It shows a new narrative, a space that we rarely get to see in Miami, as well as Saddi Khali who is presenting work from different spaces from the original continent.”
Thomas said her hope is that the exhibit is an instrument to give the city a unique experience.
“We want people to know that the diaspora is everywhere,” Thomas said. “And that after the Atlantic slave trade, although we were separated, as a culture these kinds of shows unite us. We get to see what it is like to be in Cuba, we get to see what it is like to be in Senegal and Mali. And for people that are not of African descent, they get to see the similarities as well.”