York College celebrates MLK’s birthday with art show

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The York College/Community Commemorative Quilt Committee celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday Tuesday and marked the start of its 10-week festivities, recognizing Black History and Women’s History Month with a display of art and quilts created by southeast Queens and Harlem residents.

York College President Charles Kidd welcomed hundreds of people to the opening reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony. His wife Mary organized the committee in 2000 to celebrate the college’s 30th anniversary. That year community organizations each made a patch of a quilt that was sewn together and put on display at the school.

The anniversary celebration was so successful that it became an annual event, said Mildred Cooper, vice chairwoman of the committee. Quilts made by southeast Queens residents adorned the lobby and second floor of the arts center Tuesday, pulling together the theme of this year’s event.

Amateur and professional artists had their work on display in the lobby of York College’s performing arts center on Guy R. Brewer Boulevard Tuesday. The artwork, most of which is for sale, will remain on the walls through March 30.

Stuart McClean, an artist from Harlem, served as the chairman of the art project and encouraged other artists and students to contributed their work.

“I enjoy doing it,” McClean said. “I am especially trying to get more teens involved in the arts.”

Danii Oliver, 17, a Jamaica resident and student at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, had two of her paintings and several poems on display at York.

Although she has more work in previous arts shows in Manhattan, Oliver said she was happy to participate in a local event.

“I love this because now people I know in the community can come out,” Oliver said of the York College exhibit.

Karioki Crosby, an artist who lives in South Ozone Park and teaches at PS 150 in Sunnyside, also had a few of his painting on display. One of them, “Resurrection of State,” caught the attention of McClean and many others at the event.

In the painting, Crosby included what he called his signature, cylinder-shaped figures, which take the shape of angels and bear the flags of many different nations. The angels are lifting square portions of the World Trade Center back into place.

“I didn’t want to just do art on the destruction of it,” Crosby said of the World Trade Center disaster, explaining that the painting shows “it will take that kind of world peace to keep the buildings up.”

Jamaica artist George Hunter was very excited to have his work on display and show off his array of unique paintings.

Hunter paints on a canvas first and then covers the entire surface with black wax, etching the wax to reveal the painting below. Most of his works depict a half-white, half-black human face.

“I believe that the human being is no race, just human,” Hunter explained.

After the art exhibition and brief opening ceremonies, guests filed into the performing arts center to listen to choral and other musical performances.

The culmination of York’s Black History and Women’s History Month events will be a fund-raiser and gala scheduled March 30, Kidd said. Proceeds from the fund-raiser and several raffles will go to the York College endowment fund, which provides scholarships to southeast Queens students.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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