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Africa International House celebrates Black History Month with Treasures of Africa Exhibition & Talk on Friday, February 17, 2023

Africa International House USA, Inc (AIH) celebrates Black History Month with an exclusive exhibition featuring traditional African arts from the private collections of three AIH affiliated collectors.  This unique exhibit exemplifies the merit of AIH being named one of Chicago’s Cultural Treasures for educating all people about the great contributions of African cultures.  The “TREASURES OF AFRICA” exhibition showcases items from the Saingbey, Diarra, and Laoye private collections that broadly represent various African cultures and their spiritual traditions. The items include rare and ancient masks, sculptures, furniture, vessels, textiles and objects of the peoples from Kpelle, Ashanti, Senufo, Dogon, Bambara, Bamum, Bamileke, Igbo, Mende, Baule, Pende, Yoruba and more.

thumbnail Dayo Laoye exhibit curaotr and AIH artist in residence
Dayo Laoye, exhibit curator and AIH artist-in-residence

“What some consider traditional art of Africa isn’t really art!,” says Dayo Laoye,  AIH artist- in-residence and exhibition curator.  “They are objects that have specific functions and significance to the Peoples they are from and made for.  They are what we refer today as – Functional Art!”

The three collectors will share insights and information about their respective collections during a collectors discussion centered around the theme ”African Art, Created for Purpose!” on Friday, February 17 from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm at the AIH Center for Contemporary African Art & Cultures located in the Harris Park Recreation Center at 6200 South Drexel Avenue, Chicago. The free exhibition remains on display through March 31.  Exhibition hours are Weekdays: 12:00 pm – 6:30pm and Saturdays from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

The exhibition will close with an intimate “Dinner and Movie” event featuring an African film on Saturday, March 4 from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  RSVP is required to attend.  Please visit for additional information.

thumbnail Dayo Laoaye Djabi Diarra Patrick Saingbey Woodtor
L to R: Dayo Laoye, Djabi Diarra, Patrick Saingbey Woodtor


Saingbey (Patrick Woodtor) is founder and executive director of both Africa International House USA, Inc. and the African Festival of the Arts,  an annual celebration of global Black culture held Labor Day Weekend in Washington Park on Chicago’s predominately African American south side.  Saingbey’s collection is over 4 decades old and includes items from his personal collection developed with his late wife Dr. Dee Parmer and from their former African stores in Hyde Park and Evanston-Window to Africa.

“While I have many other cultural pieces, the Dan pieces in my possession reflect my background as a Kpelle person of the Dan groups in Liberia. I experienced the traditions of mask performance in my village of Kpotolomah of the old Sanoyea Kingdom when the“secret sociétés” brought out their masks on special occasions.  I keep these cultural/material artifacts for the posterity of memories and my people.” 

Diarra (Djabi Diarra) is an art purveyor and collector of African Diaspora art with a focus on objects d’art of antiquity. Museums from around the world feature items from his collection.  Diarra is originally from Mali, once considered the center of Islam, culture and knowledge.  Diarra dazzles African Festival of the Arts visitors with his impressive collection as they pass the first booth beyond the festival’s main entrance.

“I collect art from around the world and find that all Black people are connected through art.  Art is the connector that brings Black people together like one global family.”

Laoye (Dayo Laoye) is an established art painter who is of the Yoruba Peoples in Nigeria, West Africa. Like his exhibition selections, his paintings are in-demand by collectors worldwide. Dayo Laoye worked at Window to Africa and started collecting to inspire his creativity, which focuses on objects that reflect and celebrate – The Orusa.

“As Africans, it’s Important that we save and preserve our traditional legacies.  More so, when many today aren’t using or relating to them positively!”

About Africa International House USA, Inc.

The mission of Africa International House is to serve as a center that exposes and educates all peoples to the individual works and collective contributions of African cultures. Our mission is addressed through our flagship program, the African Festival of the Arts, and through other activities that promote African-based culture. Africa International House is an umbrella for linkages and exchanges of people from Africa and the African Diaspora.

The AIH Center for Contemporary African Art & Culture was established by AIH to provide a space where examples of the collective and individual contributions from cultures of the Africa Diaspora can be showcased

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