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Discover the Caribbean world at Queens Museum

"Landscape" (1936) by Padu Lampe, native of Aruba. Image courtesy El Museo del Barrio
TimesLedger Newspapers

Coinciding with this month’s celebration of Caribbean American Heritage Month, the ambitious and comprehensive exhibition “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World” opened June 16 at the Queens Museum of Art as hundreds of art patrons from New York City and beyond viewed diverse works spanning more than 400 years of Caribbean culture.

The pioneering collaboration, which represents more than a decade of research and is accompanied by a range of programs and events, was organized by El Museo del Barrio, in the Upper East Side, in partnership with Queens Museum of Art and The Studio Museum in Harlem to explore the diverse history of the Caribbean and its people. Exhibits are hosted in all three museums.

The multimedia exhibition, which features 379 artists taken from collections around the world, uses the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) as its starting point and includes paintings, sculptures, prints, books, photography, film and various artifacts from the Caribbean, Europe and the United States that spotlight topics from commerce and culture to politics and popular culture.

“We’re living in a city with one of the largest Caribbean populations in the world,” said Tom Finkelpearl, executive director of the Queens Museum of Art. “As a region, I think the Caribbean is not given enough attention… There is amazing creativity and we want people to come out, relax and enjoy the 300 or so works of art that will be on display.”

The exhibition explores six distinct themes that are split among the three museums comprising Counterpoints, Patriot Acts, Fluid Motions, Kingdoms of the World, Shades of History and Land of the Outlaw.

“I liked how one country related to works in the other countries,” said Carmen Saldana, a resident of Tarrytown, who attended the exhibit’s opening. “We need to support these artists and let their talents grow.”

Fluid Motions highlights the importance of water in the history of the Caribbean and how developments in transportation have shaped commercial routes and communications in the region. Kingdoms of this World looks at the array of people, languages, art forms and religions co-exist in the region.

Nicolas Cruz, a student from Mexico City, said he liked the Mexican exhibits best. “I think it’s interesting how the artists managed to integrate the different Caribbean cultures,” said Cruz, who was visiting New York for the week.

In an effort to encourage people to visit the entire exhibition, a single “passport to the Caribbean” paid admission to any of the three museums will include a ticket good for complimentary entry to the other two sites.

“The Caribbean was a cultural hybrid,” said Hitomi Iwasaki, director of exhibitions for the Queens Museum of Art. “Since we’re located in the most ethnically and racially diverse place in the world, we are the museum to deal with diversity and hybridity.”

The exhibition at the Queens Museum of Art will run until Jan. 6, 2013. The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. Suggested admission is $5 for adults, $2.50 for students and seniors.

For more information, visit www.queensmuseum.org or www.caribbeancrossroads.org.

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