Highlighting Our Partners Who Elevate Black Artists and Voices


Governors Island strives to be a cultural destination for all New Yorkers, bringing together partners, artists and voices that reflect the rich diversity of the City itself. Since the Island opened to the public, Black voices have led and contributed to the Island’s rich arts and cultural programs. In honor of Black History Month, we’re highlighting some of our arts and culture partner organizations that make it their mission to elevate the work and voices of Black artists and cultural practitioners.

African Film Festival, Inc.

Kids participate in a dance activity at AFF’s Family Day Celebration in 2014

African Film Festival, Inc. seeks to increase understanding and appreciation of African cultures through the medium of film. AFF hosts a variety of programs across New York and the globe to increase visibility and recognition for African artists. Every year since 2008, AFF has hosted their Family Day Celebration festival here (pictured above and in the header image), typically on Colonels Row, though the 13th annual installment was held in Nolan Park in 2020 in socially distanced form. Visitors have enjoyed film screenings, storytelling performances, dance and Double Dutch lessons, arts and crafts workshops, and delicious food and beverages from across the African diaspora.

See AFF’s upcoming programs online, including virtual screenings and more from this year’s currently ongoing 28th Annual New York African Film Festival.

ArtCrawl Harlem

ArtCrawl Harlem artist in residence Demarcus McGaughey in his Colonels Row studio. Photo by Timothy Schenck

ArtCrawl Harlem supports and promotes Harlem’s arts community and history through dynamic arts and culture programs as well as educational initiatives, primarily spotlighting emerging Harlem artists, galleries and cultural institutions. ACH joined the Governors Island Residency Initiative in 2020, providing studio space to three artists as part of their residency program, Boundaries and Connections: The Other Side of Us, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, offering virtual and limited in-person studio tours and artist talks to visitors.

Learn more about ArtCrawl Harlem.

Art Force 5

Art Force 5 invites day camps for arts and crafts on Governors Island

Art Force 5, a program for kids and teens founded at Alfred University, promotes creativity over conflict through art workshops and community-based art. Art Force 5 highlights diverse histories through their arts programs, like Drawn to Diversity, which examines the history of equality and civil rights movements through comic books, and the Women’s Empowerment Draft, which introduces notable women from throughout history in the style of a pro-sports draft. In their programs on Governors Island, Art Force 5 has invited young visitors to imagine themselves as superheroes through crafting projects, to learn about the Harlem Renaissance by creating tiles that became part of a public artwork marking its 100th anniversary, and more.

Read about Art Force 5’s work and learn about their upcoming 2021 Women’s Empowerment Draft this March.


BronxArtSpace is a nonprofit gallery promoting the innovative work of underrepresented and emerging Bronx-based artists. Having planned an exhibition addressing environmental issues on Governors Island last year, BronxArtSpace pivoted their Colonels Row space to join the Governors Island Residency Initiative. Their artists in residence used the opportunity to continue their practices and participate in cross-organization programs, like the live-streamed artist talk series Hey Neighbor.

Check out BronxArtSpace’s website to see exhibitions from the past ten years.

Escaping Time

Exhibiting artist Jairo Pastoressa, left, speaks to visitors at the Escaping Time house on Colonels Row

Escaping Time showcases and sells art by currently and formerly incarcerated individuals to shed light on the humanity and creativity that exists behind prison walls. In doing so, Escaping Time also seeks to bring attention to the epidemic of unjust incarceration of Black people and people of color in the United States. Their exhibitions aim to impart a more nuanced view of the criminal justice system and the need for society to invest in programs to better prepare prisoners to successfully reenter society. On Governors Island, Escaping Time has presented exhibitions of paintings, ceramics, sculptures, and public art installations.

Learn more about Escaping Time and see works currently for sale.


Creator in Residence Julian Joseph Kyle at MoCADA House in Nolan Park

The Museum of African Diasporan Arts presents exhibitions, community programs and educational initiatives centered in social justice to engage audiences in dialogues on subjects relating to the African Diaspora. In 2019, MoCADA invited seven creators to participate in a newly expanded residency program in Nolan Park on Governors Island. Visitors were invited to exhibitions of these creators’ work as well as a wide variety of public programs, including readings, screenings, dance parties and PROGRAMS by the Free Black Women’s Library, a mobile trading library that celebrates the voices of Black women in literature.

Head to MoCADA’s website and explore MoCADA Digital, a wealth of virtual programs including videos, podcasts, music, writing and more.

West Harlem Art Fund

A workshop on natural dyes for artists at WHAF’s Visual Muze residency program

West Harlem Art Fund presents arts and culture programming that emphasizes contemporary art’s relationship to history and heritage, often centering the African diaspora and its connections to communities and cultures across the globe. On Governors Island, WHAF has presented exhibitions of works by Black artists, hosted workshops for artists, engaged visitors in discussions and studio visits, and more. In 2020, WHAF’s Visual Muze artist residency program joined the Governors Island Residency Initiative, offering studio space in Nolan Park to 10 artists and groups who spent the season producing new works, building community with each other and neighboring organizations, and building and planting a garden in front of the house.

Learn more about West Harlem Art Fund and see virtual galleries and selected videos on their website.