Although City Gallery’s exhibit Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore has been on view for a week now, the opening weekend events are just ramping up, with the opening reception happening on Sat. Sept. 8. We ran a preview of the show in this week’s paper, and we also spoke to curator Cookie Washington a bit about the rise of mermaids in pop culture.

“Interest in mermaids is at an all-time high,” Washington says, citing YA “mer-fiction,” the mocumentary Mermaids: The Body Found, and mermaid blogs written by women who claim to be mermaids. There’s also “the fact that the U.S. government had to issue a statement telling the American public that, ‘no, mermaids aren’t real!’” Washington says.

She even dug up this entry in Christopher Columbus’ diary from 1493: “The day before, when the Admiral was going to the Rio del Oro, he said he saw three mermaids who came quite high out of the water but were not as pretty as they are depicted, for somehow in the face they look like men. He said that he saw some in Guinea on the coast of Manegueta.”

“This exhibition is for mermaids to come out of the realm of Disney-ana cuteness or beautiful, sexy, but dangerous Siren, and for people to learn that in many African cultures, the worship of  mermaids and water spirits pre-dates the worship of Jesus Christ by over 2,000 years,” she says. “I want people to be amazed, amused, delighted by the glorious art in this show, but I also want them to learn something.”

Washington has plenty of events planned throughout the course of the exhibit, including several lectures. Check out opening weekend events after the jump:

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