The Office of the CDO Hosts Inaugural Event Celebrating Art By Women of Color


Women of color from the local community and Fordham presented their art at the reception. (Sarah Huffman/The Fordham Ram)

By Sarah Huffman

The office of the Chief Diversity Officer hosted its inaugural event, celebrating women of color last week. On March 25 and 26, it hosted the first Visionary Women Building Strong Communities Art Reception.

The event showcased art created by local women and Fordham students. All of the art was created and submitted by women of color.

Kendra Dunbar, assistant director of Equity and Inclusion with the office of the Chief Diversity Officer, said they wanted to start an initiative and create a space for women of color. She said the event was an opportunity for conversation and community, especially between the Fordham and Bronx communities.

Dunbar and Erika Marte, administrative program assistant in the office of the Chief Diversity Officer, said they wanted to inspire thinking about what a strong community looks like for women of color. They said this event was the beginning of a dialogue about women of color.

“We wanted to bring folks together to explore the theme and the idea of community and to begin to be in conversation with one another about what community means to you, how we build strong communities and what a strong community would look like here at Fordham, particularly one that takes seriously and centers the experiences and lives of women of color,” said Dunbar.

The event showcased artwork in a variety of mediums. Artist Jessica Space had three paintings on display. They were entitled “Froed”, “Cornrowed” and “Tapered”. The paintings showed the profile of women’s faces, each with a different hairstyle.

Another artist, Diane Davis, had two paintings entitled “Misty” and “Nature’s Composition.” “Nature’s Composition” is part of an ongoing series inspired by algorithms in nature.

Artist Ijeoma D. Iheanacho said that when she was first contacted, she was shocked that the event was happening at Fordham.

“I think it’s an amazing event. The idea that we get to see images of ourselves made by ourselves in a place like this is stunning to me,” she said. “And I think it’s an important moment, especially with it being women’s history month.”

Student artist Caden Jones, FCRH ’19, had one drawing and two paintings on display. Her drawing, titled “Bug’s Life,” showed an ant drawn in a realistic style.

Jones said she wanted to be a part of the show because it celebrated women of color and there are not many opportunities like that at Fordham. She said she appreciated that the event brought the community together.

Artist Aleathia Brown had two paintings of a series entitled “Sunday’s Supper” on display. Brown said that each painting has a painting in the background that leads to the next one in the series. She said they are painted on banana leaf paper because banana leaves grow in a bunch, which represents the families in her paintings.

Brown said she wanted to make a connection with Fordham even before Erika Marte reached out to Bronx 200, an artist directory, and invited artists. She said this event was an easy way to make the transition.

Brown said she wants to show her work at college campuses to open up conversations and dialogue.

“There are so many things that are happening at this time that it’s another rebirth or renaissance where, women and our voices are being morphed into a more visual place,” she said.

The reception also showed a video created by a Fordham alumna, Perla de Leon. The video was about the changes that have occurred in the Bronx over the last few decades and the effects they have had on the neighborhoods.

Christie-Belle Garcia, assistant dean for student support and success, made a speech at the event. She said it is Fordham’s duty and commitment to building communities so that women of color do not feel so lonely or isolated. She said women of color should feel like their stories matter and that Fordham is providing the support that they need to be the best that they can and want to be.

“If we’re not a community, we sacrifice way too much. We can transform institutions and challenge people who have power to share their power,” she said.

Garcia said she felt honored, grateful and proud to be a member of that community, and she was proud to be at Fordham and see a huge shift to something beautiful.