By Billy Wood
The Melquain Jatelle Anderson Foundation (MJAF) held the “Disrupting the Hate” art exhibit at the Central Brooklyn Library from Oct. 21-25.
The event is held on those days because Anderson was born on Oct. 21 and was murdered on Oct. 25 outside Faragut Houses at 26-years-old.
“I wanted to do an art exhibit to show people disrupting the hate through artistry because you can actually heal through art, whether you are the observer or the artist,” said Michelle Barnes- Anderson, his mother, founder, and chief executive officer of MJAF.
The MJAF is a community service organization in Brooklyn where they provide both support and comfort to victims of gun violence along with their loved ones.
Black Boy Magic by Monae Benet
There is also a scholarship and fund in support of undergraduate students at John Jay College of Criminal Studies in the memory of Anderson. He was a Brooklyn Knight and John Jay Student.
The foundation did a one day art exhibit in 2019 at the Brooklyn Museum. This year’s event had about 33 different forms of art from painting, drawings, poems, and lyrics. They received artwork from daycare children all the way to more established artists.
While all of the art resonates with her because it reminds her of her son from his early ages of drawing in grade school to him becoming a fashion designer, there was one exhibit that she felt was important and that was done by the daycare called “My King and I.”
It shows pictures of the fathers with their children surrounded by their young ones’ paintings.
“It’s really about the fathers. And I wanted to uplift our black young fathers in the neighborhood,” Barnes-Anderson said. “That was so important to me to make sure we have the daycare because they need to know that their love, they’re needed in the community.”
This year’s exhibit took place at the Central Brooklyn Library and throughout the five day event there have been over 400 people that have attended.
“I wanted the experience for people being in the art exhibit and also utilizing other things that the library has because it’s a wealth of information,” said Barnes-Anderson. “We need to exploit that with the library so people can know this is not something that you just come to for research.”
The library hosts a full slate of different exhibitions, marquee and signature programs; however, this one was unique.
“We really feel like it’s important to give back to the community,” said Cora Fisher, the curator of visual arts program at the Central Brooklyn Library.
“There’s a lot going on in the world relating to these issues, which feels very timely,” Fisher said. “I mean it’s been really a special, a special experience.”
She is always advocating that visual arts is a form of material knowledge and this exhibit is an example of that. She is excited by the whole spectrum of this showcase as it is multi-generational.
“To see babies and toddlers all the way up to elders making work in a responsive way I think is very powerful,” Fisher said.
Barnes-Anderson said she honored and blessed for the library to have hosted the event for her this year. She is hopeful that she will be able to do it again there next year if there is space available.
The MJAF will be hosting an event on Oct. 30 to celebrate their fifth annual scholarship recipients, NYPD and honorees award ceremony.
For more information on that event and the MJAF organization please visit their website at https://mjascholarship.org.
“Untitled Self Portraits” — artwork from Fort Greene Preparatory Academy