Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan came to life in vivid African style last week with the grand opening of an even grander art exhibition, "The Global Africa Project," at the Museum of Arts and Design. Hundreds of artists, art lovers and well-heeled lovers of the African Diaspora ran between raindrops to get a peek at this contemporary celebration of African artistry.

The brainchild of museum curator Lowery Stokes Sims, the exhibition, which runs through May 15, 2011, features the work of 100 artists of African descent in virtually every artistic discipline: painting, photography, furniture design, sculpture, beadwork, quilting and more. The range of artists is impressive — from MacArthur Fellow Fred Wilson, who makes installation art; to award-winning sculptor Nick Cave, famed painter Mickalene Thomas and Senegalese furniture designer Bibi Seck, who uses recycled plastic in his designs.

Not since Thelma Golden's groundbreaking 1993 art exhibition, "Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art," has there been an art presentation specific to black artists as vast as this one. What may be the most notable about the three-floor exhibition is the breadth of work. The 264-page catalog provides the history lesson necessary for anyone who wants to understand the context of these works.

Contributing Editor Harriette Cole interviewed several of the artists as well as the curator at the museum opening.