Wadsworth Atheneum Honors Disney Legend From Connecticut

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The Amistad Center for Art & Culture is paying tribute to a local female artist who has become an inspiration to young Black women across Connecticut.

Memorabilia from actress and singer Anika Noni Rose is being displayed at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford.

Rose, a Bloomfield native, is Disney's first African-American princess voicing the character, Tiana, in the 2009 hit "The Princess and the Frog."

"She does come back from time to time and still supports the community in a big way," said Kimberly Kersey, executive director of the Amistad Center for Art & Culture.

The curator and museum officials had the privilege of rummaging through Rose's storage unit in Manhattan.

That includes a personal collection from her childhood, such as her Bloomfield High School yearbook. She was even given a key to the city.

Rose is also known for her starring role as Lorrell Robinson in the Academy Award-winning film "Dreamgirls" and for playing LaVerne "Jukebox" Ganner in the Starz series "Power."

Rose is also a key figure in the Broadway circuit, playing parts in several shows including "Caroline" and A Raisin in the Sun.

"We were fortunate enough to get some of Miss Rose's costuming -- a costume from the remake of the miniseries "Roots," in which she played the role of Kizzey, as well as one of the dresses she wore in the movie 'Dreamgirls,'" Kersey said.

From one glass case to the next, her awards showcase her excellence in Broadway theater and film.

"A lot of us see these things on TV and don't know what they look like in real life and up close and I think just in and of themselves, they're works of art. If you look at the detail of some of these awards, they're really very artistic," Kersey said.

Even more remarkable, is the impression her career has left and continues to leave on the younger generation.

"We've had different school groups come and afterschool programs come through and tour the exhibit and the thing I hear time and time again from the youngest visitors is how inspired they are to think that someone who came from Bloomfield, Connecticut, which is a town they might live in, or they certainly know about, that has risen to such great heights is just really an inspiration for them and something really tangible they can relate to," Kersey said.

Local artist, Ellis Echevarria, created a digital picture of Rose that is part of the display.

Echevarria will be at the Amistad Center for Art & Culture at noon on August 25 to discuss his artwork and how he made that piece come to life.

The Anika Noni Rose exhibition will be open through September 18th.

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