Yoland Skeete-Laessig is a Newark, NJ based artist of Caribbean descent. She is co-founder of the Sumei Multidisciplinary Arts Center in Newark, one of Newark’s leading artist run alternative spaces which she ran from 1993 to 2015. Under her leadership the organization received awards and recognition from New York Foundation For The Arts and New Jersey State Council on the Arts as well as the City Of Newark, for outstanding cultural contributions and arts programming.
Ms. Skeete lived in California and participated in the major political movements of the sixties and seventies, working as a reporter and editor for radio, television and newspaper. She edited the first newspaper in the US for women entitled “The Fourth World”. She later returned to New York and continued her documentary work as a film editor. In 2001, she created and directed the documentary of the lost history of African American culture in Cape May, New Jersey, funded by the New Jersey Council on the Humanities. Aside from her work as a documentarian, artist, art director, Ms Skeete has been very involved in preservation of the Asian American history of the city of Newark. She created an archive of written documentation of the Newark Chinatown that existed in Newark from 1870s to the 1970s and her memoir of this search for Newark Chinatown is currently published by Dorrance Publishing. She is a contributing member to the Museum of Chinese in the Americas, where her photo documentation of the Chinatown in Havana, Cuba is in their permanent collection. She has worked with Prof John Kuo Wei Tchen, Director of Asian Pacific American Institute at NYU, where her Newark Chinatown collection is among the permanent archives in NYU Tamiment Library.
Ms. Skeete immigrated to the US as a child, attended the School Of Visual Arts for undergraduate studies in film, video and photography, continued and completed her graduate studies at Tufts University/MIT Graduate program in Anthropological Filmmaking under Jean Rouche, and recieved an MFA at Hunter College. She is certified in the business of Arts Administration from Seton Hall University and has been adjunct professor at Rockland Community College, Raritan Valley Community College, New Jersey City University and Rutgers University, Newark until 2009.
Ms. Skeete has exhibited her video and photography works in galleries and museums in the US and abroad including the Museum of Modern Art, the Queens Museum of Art, the Newark Museum, Museum of Contemporary Arts and Crafts in New York City, Biblioteque Nacional de Paris and The Musee D'Art Moderne De La Ville De Paris,. Husby Konsthalle, Stockholm, Sweden, and Estesio Gallery, Beddingstrande, Sweden. Her photographs, video and multimedia works are in the print collection of the Museum of Modern Art, African American Museum of Life and Culture, Dallas, Texas, California African American Museum, Alexander Bonin Gallery in Chelsea, American Express Corporation, the Bilha Museum in Portugal. She has recently exhibited at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles in a joint exhibition with the California African American Museum. Her work is presented in the published book on Chinese Caribbean artists entitled Circles and Circuits: History and Art of Chinese Caribbean Diaspora written by curator Alexandra Chang and published by Duke University. She has been a recipient of the Glide Memorial Grant, The Graff Travel Grant, The New Jersey Council on the Humanities Grant and the Melon Grant distributed through New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Humanities program. She has been an Artist in Residence at Art In General, The Arts Council of the Essex Area, and Aferro Gallery and has received educational grants and awards for her work with youth and media. She continues to exhibit her work locally, nationally and internationally.
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