The Legacy Arts Project is a place where you can learn the artistic traditions of Africa & the diaspora, while adding your life experience from other places.
Photos by Erin Perry
The mission of the Legacy Arts Project, Inc. is to preserve the history and traditions of African art as represented throughout the diaspora through education, instruction and interactions. The organization strives to share the presentation of art throughout the community in order to inspire the upliftment of individuals within the urban neighborhoods of Pittsburgh.
The origins of the LAP begin with its founder Linda ‘Imani’ Barrett and her love of the arts. An avid dancer and arts enthusiast, she was influenced by Selma Burke, an artist during the Harlem Renaissance, who created an arts center in Pittsburgh as an arm of her art center in Harlem, New York. There Sister Imani was exposed to a range of art forms that allowed her to experience the power of the African legacy. Around the same time, Sister Imani joined the Pittsburgh Black Theater Dance Ensemble, led by the late Bob Johnson. Here they experimented with art, delving into dance forms inspired by Africans throughout the Diaspora.
These experiences became a part of the foundation and formation of the LAP. From this platform, Sister Imani was able to bring together artists from the community to gather and share in expression. Drummers and dancers, elder and youth, played rhythms and danced. Interspersed with that has been spoken word, poetry, singing, and visual art. The LAP has been a space used to cultivate and share a variety of art forms, bringing the community together to grow.
Board Of Directors
- Dr. Anthony Mitchell, Professor of African American Studies at the College of Liberal Arts, Penn State-Greater Allegheny
- Deborah Startling-Pollard, Artistic director of the Ujamaa Collective and community playwright
- Bekezela Mguni (Treasurer), Master of Arts student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying Library Sciences
- Lea Blumenfeld, Certified Librarian
- Benjamin Walker (President), founder and CEO of Experilearn, LLC
Erin Perry, newly appointed executive director of The Legacy Arts Project is a graduate of the Katz Graduate School of Business with an MBA and a focus in strategic leadership. She has worked with various non-profit organizations, including: Community Empowerment Association, Community Building Services Inc., AmeriCorps providing consulting, program development, and grant writing services. In addition, she has worked within the realm of education for nearly 20 years, teaching math within the Wilkinsburg School District and English overseas in Taiwan. Erin has also coordinated afterschool and summer programs for elementary school children in Wilkinsburg and the Hill District. She is likewise an artist, a photographer and dancer who captures, archives, and expresses the history of the African Diaspora as she witnesses and experiences it, recognizing the importance of preserving our personal and collective legacy to share with generations to come. Erin is a member of the Ujamaa Collective where she collaborates with women artisans in Pittsburgh to create entrepreneurial opportunities to attain self-sufficiency. She also works with the New Pittsburgh Courier as a freelance photographer.
At the Legacy Arts Project, we’re a part of a family of arts organizations that collaborate on performances, share office and studio space, swap resources, and more. Below are a few of the organizations that currently work with us. We’re always growing the list, so contact us to see how you can get involved.