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Art exhibit brings Nigerian group to Tampa

Nigerian consul-general, artists and performers visiting Tampa to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the opening of an art exhibit by children with disabilities

Kuumba Peformers Group Photo with Drums VSA FAmbassador Geoffrey Teneilabe, Consul-General of Nigerialorida  and VSA Arts of Nigeria are joining together to celebrate the 40th anniversary of VSA International and the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, with the opening of an art exhibit. My Home, Our World is an exhibit featuring original works of art, created by students with disabilities, from around Florida and from Nigeria. The event is being held at the Carrollwood Cultural Center on Saturday, June 6, from 2 – 4:00 p.m. The celebration is free and open to the public.

Ambassador Geoffrey Teneilabe, Consul-General of Nigeria, will deliver a keynote address on art and disabilities in Nigeria. A proclamation will also be presented by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners. The celebration will also feature performances by the Kuumba Drumming and Dance Troupe and hands-on family friendly art activities. The event will feature lots of great visuals and sound, from the artwork, to the performers singing and dancing while wearing traditional African clothing and playing hand-made instruments, along with interview opportunities with Ambassador Teneilabe and staff from VSA Florida and Nigeria. It's a family friendly event that spotlights opportunities for people with disabilities and cross-cultural collaboration.

Sample of colorful exhibit artwork

"Bringing rich arts education and cultural experiences to people of all abilities throughout a community fosters not only understanding, acceptance and respect for one another, but initiates inclusion through a universal language, the arts," said Jennifer Sabo, Executive Director for VSA Florida. "Everyone who attends this celebration will have a chance to view a fabulous exhibition, create artwork, participate in a traditional drum circle and hopefully walk away with a better understanding of disability throughout the world."

The works of art showcased in My Home, Our World will be on display from June 2 – 29, 2015 at the Carrollwood Cultural Center, and in an online presentation. The partnership will bring community awareness to arts education and cultural experiences for people with disabilities, and share the wonderful work that is being done for a similar population of children and adults in Nigeria through VSA.

The artwork was created by students with disabilities from schools surrounding the Ibadon, Nigeria region and throughout Florida. Students used traditional fabrics, paints & mixed media, and collage collections to describe the student's home as they recognize it. Colorful batik fabrics from Nigeria, alongside Floridian tropical motif, will merge into an eclectic collaborative exhibition.

VSA Florida is also hosting an art workshop taught by visiting staff from VSA Arts of Nigeria on Monday, June 8 on the University of South Florida campus. The free workshop will be from 1 - 4:00 p.m. at the USF School of Art and Art History, room FAH 281. Registration is required. Participants can register at http://vsafl.org/vsa-florida-batik-workshop-usf.

About VSA Florida: VSA Florida (VSAFL) provides, supports and champions arts education and cultural experiences for and by people with disabilities. A private not-for-profit organization, VSAFL conducts art education programs in schools, Department of Juvenile Justice facilities, and community centers; promotes the accomplishments of artists with disabilities through an artist registry, exhibitions, and performances; and increases access to the arts through professional development workshops. VSA Florida is a member of the VSA Affiliate Network (a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.) and is headquartered at the David C. Anchin Center in the College of Education at the University of South Florida.

About VSA arts of Nigeria: VSA arts of Nigeria, established as a member of the VSA network in 2001, conducts programs in traditional dance, drumming, painting, and batik for individuals with disabilities, particularly children and youth in schools. Through its annual teacher training seminar, VSA arts of Nigeria introduces the importance of arts-based learning for scholastic success and, as a result, has been asked to organize arts workshops in numerous schools in the Ibadan area. VSA arts of Nigeria also conducts programming such as the Junior Club, a children's drama program, which aims to bridge the gap between children with and without disabilities.