Kenkeleba house and the Wilmer Jennings gallery


Dedicated since 1979



During the last forty years, Kenkeleba has addressed primary issues in African American culture. The mission is to present, preserve, interpret and encourage the development of art by African American, artists of the African Diaspora, Latino, Asian, and Native American artists. These mature artists have not received proper recognition for their works on innovative media that overlook cultural mainstreams. Kenkeleba encourages interdisciplinary approaches and is committed to extend the rich cultural history of the Lower East Side and to improve the quality of urban education through the arts.



Kenkeleba fulfills its mission by exhibiting, documenting, collecting art and artifacts and disseminating information to increase the appreciation of African culture from a global perspective. Kenkeleba provides opportunities, supports the pursuit of excellence, encourages experimental work, and improves the quality of urban life through the arts.



Kenkeleba House was founded in 1974 by Joe Overstreet, Corrine Jennings and Samuel C. Floyd to support African American culture. Kenkeleba began its work on The Bowery near Delancey in New York City with experimental projects to assist African American, Caribbean, and African artists in developing and documenting their work. Early projects included exhibitions and experiments with poetry, music, visual arts, workshops in dance, theater, children's programs and African markets. The name, Kenkeleba is derived from that of the Seh-Haw plant grown in West Africa, and known for its spiritual, nutritional and healing values. 


The Kenkeleba, a staunch holdover from the 1980s 214 East Second Street...displays a broad range of art with emphasis on African-American, Latino, Asian and Native American artist. To date, the gallery claims to have shown the work of more than 7,000 exhibitors including Edward Mitchell Bannister a Black Canadian landscape painter of the 19th century; Rose Piper, one of the first Black female painters to be given a solo show in New York; ... it also has living and studio space for a small cadre of working artists.”
— Grace Glueck, April 13, 2018