Splash! A Celebration of Mermaids & The Sea
Los Angeles- People probably mistakes me for a visiting professor as much as I have visited the campus of UCLA during the month of April. I was on campus April 12 for the Latin American Student Association’s Festival Latino. I was recently on campus April 19 for Splash! A Celebration of Mermaids & The Sea. I will be on campus this Saturday, April 26 for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
The weather was much better this past weekend. A welcomed respite from the recent heat wave of the previous weekend.
The Fowler Museum of UCLA with community partner Heal the Bay presented “Splash! A Celebration of Mermaids & The Sea,” a free family oriented event organized in conjunction with the current Fowler exhibition “Mami Wata: Arts for Spirits in Africa and its Diasporas.”
Actress Joyce Guy served as Mistress of Ceremonies for this exciting event. Everyone was invited to contribute to the water alter that was set-up in the middle of Wilson Plaza.
Viver Brasil Dance Company got the program under way with a multi-cultural group dressed in all white from head to toe. The group descended down Janss Steps to Wilson Plaza for the start of the parade procession. The parade featured people and groups dressed as mermaids, fish and various other sea creatures. The parade snaked around Wilson Plaza to compete for cash prizes for Mermaid King and Queen, wettest, Most Reptilian, Sexiest and most musical. The parade consisted of community and UCLA student groups.
Viver Brasil-Afro Brasilian Music and Dance group is rich in numbers-over 100 plus members, rich in enormous talent that was displayed for this event. I have had the pleasure of seeing this group perform in the past. I enjoy looking around at the crowd to see how captivated they are at the energetic performances by the group. I’m also amazed and captivated every time I witness a performance by the group.
Intermission featured announcements of parade winners. Mermaid Queen prize was presented to Teresa White; Mermaid King was presented to a group from the Bolivian community of Southern California. The prize for the sexiest costume was presented to Jan Williamson who came dressed as a mermaid. The prize for wettest costume went to Poor Dog Group-a student group from Cal Arts. Most musical prize was presented to Ala Bey from UCLA. Most Reptilian prize was presented to Swimming Josephenson’s. Rubber Dub Tub and Sisters of the Water shared the prize for Crowd Favorites.
Raffles prized consisted of a gift basket, tickets to UCLA Live performances, restaurant gift certificates, re-usable tote bags, water canteens, gift package from Heal the Bay and a gift certificate for the UCLA Store.
The festivities continued on the Main Stage with a dynamic performance by Los Angeles based group Balobi Bandeko-Congolese music and dance with special guest dancers Deborah and Linda.
This was an inter-active family festival with Mesmera the Snake Charmer, water science attractions from Heal the Bay, including touch tanks brimming with sea stars, crabs, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and a walk thru “kelp forest.” Face painting by Auntie Joyce, hand writing analysis, palmistry and tarot insight. Art workshops featured mermaid poetry mirrors, Merfolk mermaid crowns of shells, rain sticks- sounds of the sea, and paper flowers for the Mami Wata alter. DJ Nnamdi’s Radio Afrodicia-KPFK 90.7FM broadcasted live from the festival.
“Mama Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas” is a major traveling exhibition debuting at the Fowler Museum through August 10. The wonderful exhibit explores the visual cultures and histories of Mami Wata (Mother Water), a water spirit celebrated throughout much of Africa and the African Atlantic. Mami Wata is often portrayed as a mermaid, a snake charmer, or a combination of both, she and the “school” of related African water spirits all honor the essential, sacred nature of water. You the readers of this article are invited to experience the debut of this multimedia exhibition and explore the visual cultures and histories of Mami Wata through a dynamic presentation of the rich array of arts surrounding her. Let Mami Wata beguile you as she has done to people across the globe for centuries.
Please visit www.fowler.ucla.edu for more information about the Fowler Museum at UCLA, hours of operations, and direction to the museum and parking information.