‘Like no other’: The African Festival of Arts returns to Chicago this weekend — CBS News

CHICAGO (CBS) – This week­end, Wash­ing­ton Park on Chicago’s South Side will host one of the city’s most pop­u­lar and riv­et­ing events: the African Fes­ti­val of the Arts.It was side­lined for two years because of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and, as CBS 2’s Jim Williams told us, the event returns this year under the ban­ner “Back to Cul­ture, Back to Tradition.“Dana East­er’s cre­ations are the result of painstak­ing and pre­cise work.“I dye it. I paint it. I print it. I silk screen it,” East­er said. “So, it is art, but it’s just to wear.“It’s called wear­able art and it’s on the backs of peo­ple around the world.

“I’ve had peo­ple say ‘I was in Lon­don and I saw your t‑shirt or I saw your out­fit. I knew it was Dana,’ ” she said.Williams: “This week though, you’re in one spot.Easter: “I’m in one spot, the African Fes­ti­val of the Arts.“The African Fes­ti­val of the Arts, which return this week­end after a two-year hia­tus, will fea­ture every con­ceiv­able expres­sion of Black cul­ture: paint­ings, sculp­tures, fash­ion, food and music.

“This fes­ti­val is very impor­tant to me,” said Dayo Laoye, an artist and Niger­ian native.The art fes­ti­val reflects the rich spir­it and tra­di­tions that artists like Laoye found in Chica­go when he moved to the city 32 years ago.“The African cul­ture for the last 400 years is still embed­ded in some part of Amer­i­ca and some peo­ple, espe­cial­ly here on the South and West Side in Chica­go,” he said. “So find­ing Africa here made me stay longer.“The African Fes­ti­val of the Arts, Laoye said, has helped cre­ate a big­ger mar­ket for the work of Black artists, includ­ing his own.“They rep­re­sent all the ges­tures of our moods as Black peo­ple in Amer­i­ca,” he said, adding, “Through this fes­ti­val, I was able to build my clientele.“Patrick Wood­tor found­ed the fes­ti­val 33 years ago and has watched it blos­som into a “nation­al attraction.”“This is like a fam­i­ly reunion every year,” Wood­ton said. “Every year and peo­ple come as far as Cal­i­for­nia, New York, Florida.”

And Wood­tor said it’s sparked sim­i­lar fes­ti­val across the country.“I’m so excit­ed about it,” said Easter.But this week­end, the cen­ter of the Black art world will be in Chicago’s Wash­ing­ton Park.“It’s just an excit­ing week­end for fam­i­ly, for art, enter­tain­ment,” East­er said. “It’s like no other.“CBS 2 is a proud media spon­sor of the fes­ti­val. It runs Fri­day through Mon­day, Labor Day, in Wash­ing­ton Park.For more infor­ma­tion on the event, vis­it aihafa.squarespace.com.