Ancestral Memories:  The Work of Imna Arroyo opened at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum May 14. This exhibition gives visual voice to the untold millions of Africans who died during the Atlantic crossing between Africa and the American colonies. As scholars report, millions of people were kidnapped and loaded onto slave ships. If only one-half of them survived, investors considered it a profitable voyage. As Dr. Barbara J. Molette, Ph.D. wrote, "If the Atlantic Ocean were to dry up, a trail of bones would lead from the shores of Africa to the Americas." (2008)

Ancestral Passage comprises twenty-seven terracotta ceramic figures in a sea of acrylic canvass. The figures represent the African ancestors who died during the journey and are coming back to tell us to remember our gifts. "Visitors will learn something of the history of the African slave trade as seen through the eyes of Imna Arroyo, the artist who created this installation. There is also a 6 minute DVD, titled Trail of Bones, which tells this very poignant story and honors those who died on the slave ships during the Atlantic crossing, "says Curator Dr. Lee Gray.

Imna Arroyo was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico. She studied at La Escuela de Artes Plasticas del Instituto de Cultura in San Juan, Puerto Rico and obtained her BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and her MFA from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. She has also studied at other printmaking techniques at the Tamarind Institute, New York University Printmaking Studio and at the University of Guanajuato, in Mexico. Her work is also in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art Library/Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection, Yale Art Gallery and Schomberg Center for Research and Black Culture.

She is currently a Professor of Art at Eastern Connecticut State University where she chaired the Visual Arts Department. Arroyo received the 2000 Excellence Award in Recognition of Excellence in Creative and Scholarship Activity from Eastern. She also received the 2003 Steinkraus-Cohen Memorial Outstanding Women of Connecticut Award, in recognition of achievements and dedication to public service. The award is under the auspices of the United Nations Association of the USA (Connecticut, Southwestern Chapter) and UNIFEM-Connecticut, members of the CT.


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