The Gallery at Calabar showcases contemporary African Artists and African Diaspora artists globally. Curated by Atim Annette Oton, each artist selected has work that deals with the complexities of the African experience. Based in Harlem, featured artworks are inspired and influenced by black African culture globally with a focus on dynamic ideas about art and society. Work will include: paintings, sculptures, watercolors, drawings, pastels, prints, photographs, mixed-media works and installations.
Atim Annette Oton is a Nigerian-born, American and British educated designer turned curator who grew up in Nigeria with her mother collecting and buying contemporary art in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu and Calabar. She is the African Art Curator for the 2016 Amref Health Africa ArtBall and Curator for Community Engagement for the Bronx:Africa exhibition at Longwood Gallery. A co-owner of Calabar Imports, a 11 year old Brooklyn based retail business and co-founder of Experience Africa, she was a Huffington Post Black Voices Blogger who created the series, The Pulse of Africa, where she wrote about Global Africans working in Africa and across the Diaspora. She spent her formative years in Calabar, Nigeria before studying architecture at the City College of New York under the most influential African American architect and dean of the architecture school, J. Max Bond (who she later worked for) and took design and history courses with Labelle Prussin, a female architect and author of African Nomadic Architecture: Space, Place and Gender.
She did her graduate studies at the Architectural Association (AA) in London, England and returned to New York to work in several architecture firms. In 1997, she created and curated a ground breaking exhibition on women architects and designers entitled Toward the New Millennium: Women in Architecture at the Aaron Davis Hall Gallery of City College of New York. By 2000, she spearheaded the design team that won the African Burial Ground Interpretive Center in New York. Her design work has been published in Architectural Record, Design Build Magazine, Design Architecture.com, Oculus and Blacklines Magazine. Her work has been exhibited at the Architectural Association in London, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Institute for the Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC), the Bronx Museum of Art and the City College of New York.
She later worked as an executive producer on the Underground Railroad Experience, a cultural education website on the Underground Railroad and won an Independent Grant from the NYSCA for her work, the Black Hair Salon. As a founder of Blacklines Magazine, a quarterly magazine featuring black designers and artists, she served as its executive vice president before joining Parsons School of Design as the Associate Chair of Product Design for 6 critical years under Tony Whitfield to assist restructure the deparment dynamically into an award winning and widely published program focused on “A Good Life”, a broad pedagogical base of collaborations with the nonprofit community, fostering direct student involvement with the mission of vital organizations, from local to international in scope. Her time at Parsons critically focused on product design student exhibitions and installations at Parsons Galleries in New York, ICFF Show in New York, Salone del Mobile in Milan, Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne in St. Ettienne, France, House of Design, Hallefors, Sweden and Altos de Chavon in the Dominican Republic. She left in 2006 to launch Calabar Magazine as a brand extension of her store Calabar Imports in Brooklyn where she curated small shows of emerging local Brooklyn black artists for 5 years, and suspended both to focus on growing her single store to four stores in New York City by 2015.
In 2016, she launched The Gallery at Calabar in Harlem focused on contemporary African Artists and African Diaspora artists globally whose work is inspired and influenced by black and global African culture globally investigating dynamic ideas about art, culture and society. She has been profiled in Office.com and Diversity.com for articles on Blacklines Magazine. She has been featured for Calabar Imports on CNN, MSNBC, The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, BCAT’s NeighborhoodBeat and CUNY TV. She is a Board Member, a Vice President and Chair of Economic Development Committee of Community Board 8 in Brooklyn, and was member of the City College of New York’s Architecture Alumni Group, the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and member of the National Association of Minorities in Communications (NAMIC).