EXPOSED 2015 SKIN DEEP: (RE)IMAGING THE PORTRAIT
Nia Centre Presents
EXPOSED 2015 SKIN DEEP: (RE)IMAGING THE PORTRAIT Curated by Pamela Edmonds March 19 â€“ April 1, 2015
Yannick Anton Ella Cooper Anthony Gebrehiwot Jah Grey Carolyn Roberts Kara Springer
Carolyn Roberts, Untitled from (In)Convenience series, 2015, digital C-print. 4
Foreword By Mark V. Campbell Executive Director, Nia Centre for the Arts In this third edition of EXPOSED, Nia Centreâ€™s annual visual arts exhibition, we decided to go with a theme this year, aptly titled Skin Deep: (Re)Imaging the Portrait. The origins of EXPOSED started with the desire of Letecia Rose, our Manager of Programs and Partnership, to showcase the amazing work of our program participants and alumni members. This year the exhibition has grown, not in size or length but in nuance and in curatorial acumen. Guest curator Pamela Edmonds, brings her wealth of experience across eastern Canada to our Toronto-based annual exhibition. Being conscientious of the limited opportunities for upcoming curators of colour, we have built in a mentorship component in the latest edition. While each and every year the EXPOSED launch party is a good time, it is also Nia Centreâ€™s deliberate attempt to invest in building the portfolios and professional practice of a new generation of visual artists. 5
Jah Grey, release, 2015, digital C-prints.
Introduction By Pamela Edmonds Guest Curator for EXPOSED 2015 Cameras gave black folks, irrespective of class, a means by which we could participate fully in the production of images. Hence it is essential that any theoretical discussions of the relationship of black life to the visual, to art making, make photography central. — bell hooks In Our Glory: Photography and Black Life, 1995.
Writing on the importance of photographs in the documentation of Black life, cultural critic bell hooks, asserts, “when the psychohistory of a people is marked by ongoing loss, when entire histories are denied, hidden, erased, documentation may become an obsession” (hooks 57). For individuals, domestic photographs have helped form pictorial genealogies that prevent cultural losses of the past. For contemporary artists working through postmodernism, photography became recognized as a transformative tool for image-making, a visual form of knowledge related to
frameworks of representation and resistance. In today’s picture driven society, we have grown reliant on the camera’s lens as an ever-present interface between ourselves and the world, utilizing the digitized image to reflect and imagine who we were, who we are, and what we can be. EXPOSED is Nia Centre’s annual visual arts exhibition that showcases the work of emerging Toronto-based artists of African descent and acts as a vehicle to cultivate a wider appreciation these diverse artistic creations. The defining idea of “exposed” as an unmasking and of making (something) visible is what inspired me to focus on artists who explore the subject in their work. In our image-saturated culture, where the camera has become an extension of our very bodies, what does it mean to document the self and others through the photographic lens and how does this relate to a wider sense of place, identity and community in the current moment? I’m excited to work with the Nia Centre as a guest Curator for this year’s exhibition that considers the portrait as image bringing to light the dynamic and compelling visions of these emerging young artists. As a curator, my ongoing focus has been to broaden awareness of the often-overlooked cultural production of contemporary Canadian artists within current dialogues of Afro-Modernity. In its various expressions, Afro-Modern politics and consciousness 7
has been defined as an atemporal space of contestation pushing against the boundaries of Western modernity and its discourses, towards a cosmopolitan mobility of citizenship and global cultural reclamation. I am also interested in changing notions of Black subjectivity as expressed through contemporary visual arts and popular culture. My goal is not to perpetuate a simple use of ethnicity or race as an organizing device, but rather explore how artists find ways to undermine hegemonic systems of power through interrogations of visibility to reveal how cultural production and expression can be a site for radical forms of social change. Skin Deep: (Re)Imaging the Portrait presents photographic and video works by six artists who address the visualization of presence and its relationship to various notions of representation, subjectivity and the body. Each artist brings a diverse point of view and critical eye, interrogating the place and positioning of contemporary individuals and historical figures within the public sphere as activated through the camera’s lens. From empowering assertions of Black female being within the iconic Canadian landscape, insightful ruminations on loss explored through minimalism and disembodiment, to the markings of individuality within the faceless urban realm, these artists re-imagine regimes of the image away from fixed inscriptions of race, gender, class and corporeality. Complex, poetic and celebratory, together
their work engages and encourages new ways of knowing and recognizing the visual, the visible and the viewed. The artists I have selected for this exhibition all in some way explore the portrait as expressed though notions of visuality and countervisuality. Here, visual culture is no longer necessarily about images, but about ways of world-making. Contemporary media theorist Nicholas Mirzoeff avers “the right to look” as the “right to the real” (Mirzoeff 473). It is not about the gaze but a look mutually exchanged. He explains, “The right to look is not about merely seeing. It begins at a personal level with the look into someone else’s eyes to express friendship, trust, solidarity or love. That look must be mutual, each inventing the other, or it fails. As such, it is unrepresentable. The right to look claims autonomy, not individualism or voyeurism, but the claim to a political subjectivity and collectivity: the right to look. The invention of the other.” (Mirzoeff 473). It is this claim to a subjectivity that has the autonomy to arrange the relations of the visible. Each artist in this exhibition uniquely investigates a range of methods to emphasize and aestheticize subjectivity, while reminding us how photographs are significant points of entry into deeper explorations of contemporary culture and community. Carolyn Roberts’ vibrant photographic series (In)Convenience documents strangers she encountered throughout the city 8
streets of New York and Toronto. These candid portrayals emit a dynamic energy, capturing the spirit of individuals who may be overlooked or disregarded within the urban landscape, including the homeless. Through her camera lens, these subjects have the opportunity to look back. Installing the range of images into the shape of a crucifix, the work is a powerful statement on marginalization and atonement. Both Ella Cooper and Anthony Gebrehiwot assert the Black female body within and outside of time and space. Responding to the absence and erasure of African Canadian women within visual constructs of nationhood/landscape, Ella’s photography and video series, Body Land Identity, evolved from workshops the artist developed with a range of intergenerational women from major Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Responding to the question “How do you want to be seen and celebrated in the world?” both the artist and the participants created images as embodied and agentive subjects within multiple locales and seasons, where land, Ella explains, “served as a metaphorical representation of national identity, dominant society, Canadian visual culture, First Nations territories and the place of Black women within it.” The series is presented as three components. The artist’s individual prints of the named women, some created in black and white, others in colour, their bared shoulders and expressive faces directly engage the viewer, while
others look away, confident to destabilize the gaze and claim space on their own terms. The work includes a short colour video that shows several of the women standing in an outdoor landscape. Staring out at the viewer, they all face forward positioned in an assertive stance replicating a V-formation, the symmetric flight patterns seen with migratory birds, a nod to notions of migration and movements of peoples throughout the diaspora as well as to subjectivities impacted by displacement. Finally, the series includes a compilation of images taken by the women themselves, an affirmation of their material realities and desires to make and remake their identities within geographical space. Anthony’s series Imana situates his models totally outside of the landscape and into intergalactic space. Here he presents creative women, mainly artists as Afro-futuristic deities, their highly individualized and empowered representations suggest an implicit collaboration between artist and sitter. Jah Grey’s and Yannick Anton’s respective practices challenge the normative assumptions that surround racialized and gendered bodies, celebrating their subjects’ capacities for self-expression as unifying freedom. Kara Springer’s large scale photo-diptych, Ana and Andre are conceptually charged works that restage the subjective and unsettle identifications, refuting the spectacular function of the 9
photograph as neutral manifestations of the truth of appearances. Dark wisps of the artist’s fallen strands of hair lie magnified against a boundless white background, their meandering lines rendering the body as an elusive trace. Named for famed American minimalist sculptor Carl Andre and his wife, Cubanborn feminist body artist Ana Mendiata (who died tragically under mysterious circumstances), these evocative works also function as haunting anti-portraits (of the artist couple and Kara herself), probing the tensions between realism and abstraction.
Together the works in Skin Deep: (Re)Imaging the Portrait offer engaging visions of the photographic subject, going beyond skin deep to reveal relevant perspectives on identification in our contemporary moment.
Powell, Richard J. Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2009.
Hanchard, Michael. “Afro-Modernity: Temporality, Politics and the African Diaspora.” In Public Culture II, 1999. 245-68. hooks, bell. “In Our Glory: Photography and Black Life.” In Art on My Mind: Visual Politics. New York: The New Press, 1995. 54-64. Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “The Right to Look” In Critical Inquiry. Vol. 37, No. 3, 2011. 473-496.
Ella Cooper, Body Land Identity (portrait of Vancouver participants: Vanessa Richards, Dorla Harris, Idel Mire, Josiane Anthony, Ruby Smithâ€?Diaz, Diane Roberts, Claire Campbell Williams, Tiya Zula) 2013, video still.
Anthony Gebrehiwot, Yemana (dâ€™bi young) from Imana series, 2015, digital C-print.
Black Portraiture, Black Power Revised By Mark V. Campbel Executive Director of Nia Centre for the Arts In the era of the ‘selfie’ and now unfortunately, the ‘ussie’, the portrait and specfically Black bodies and the portrait, take on an added relevance, even if the terminology is largely void from popular discussions. If one might wonder why a group exhibition focused on Black portraiture in 2015 might matter, one only needs to revisit the works of Maud Fuller, Ebony G. Patterson and Kehinde Wiley. These works, like the works included in EXPOSED 2015’s Skin Deep: (Re)Imaging the Portrait, accomplish what Richard J. Powell has importantly described as “extend[ing] the parameters of an aestheticized and modern Humankind (Powell 14).” The extension of these parameters include the ‘loosening of knowledge’ around the social construction of who is and who can be included in the category of the human. Because within art history discourse, “portraits were visual documentation of a precise, historically specific individual,” as art historian Charmaine
Nelson reminds us. The entering into the genre of the portrait by Black Canadian artists is significant (Nelson 74). Since the foundation to the genre is that, as Robert Hobbs suggests, “portraits organize individual bodies positively and productively in hierarchical arrangements based on established norms,” (Hobbs 14) the works of a new generation of Black Canadian artists invested in Black portraiture is a welcomed intervention into our current cultural milieu. The ‘loosening of knowledge’ I suggest here is one way to begin to think about how Black bodies productively disrupt hegemonic notions comportment, social status and social hierarchy that undergird Western life. The works in Skin Deep suggests the possibility of a discursive intervention into the ideologies that hinder Black life — an intervention that might produce the forms of change originally sought through institutional action in the era of Civil Rights and Black Power. When Huey Newton and Bobby Seale created their 10-point platform, their concerns were to address the systemic and institutionalized barriers that forced specific communities to experience their humanness as naturalized misery — a wretchedness Frantz Fanon captured well in his work. The indisputable gains of that era are a continuing project, as institutions such as the justice system and the education system find ways to exclude Black lives from the category of human life. The Gardner family, the Martin family, the family of Sean Bell 13
and so many other families, know such dehumanization to be true and self evident in modern Western life. As such, the discursive regimes must become our next focus of equity-seeking interventions and the images in EXPOSED 2015 bring us to such a site. The works of art exhibited as part of Skin Deep intervene on the normalized governing modes that reproduce Black middle class governable subjects, a particular kind of misery deeply embedded within our practices of everyday life. The works in the exhibition move past utilizing portraiture as a way to signify class and social status, and instead spend more time articulating a reclaimed sense of self, a sense that exists beyond the Western dominant discursive regimes. Specifically, the works of Cooper, Gebrehiwot and Springer acutely demonstrate an ethos that records, reorders or refuses the pleasures of consuming the Black female body. These portraits decide and design an ordering of the Black female body in ways that make strategic use — spatially, visually and temporally — of the dominant gaze and discourse associated with Western Europe. Cooper’s Body Land Identity series destabilizes a century-old (nonsensical and racist) debate of the Black body in Canada and our suitability for the colder climes. Cooper’s use of the Canadian landscape does double duty, using the wilderness to also comment on the historic relationship of women to the public sphere and the wild in particular. Cooper’s work tackles racial and gender stereotypes by visually connecting the
female body to the physical landscape, actively resisting forms of erasure and ‘disappearance’ that continue to make precarious Black and racialized Canadian women’s lives in 2015 (see and follow #MMIW). Cooper’s work tackles racial and gender stereotypes by visually connecting the female body to the physical landscape, actively resisting forms of erasure and disappearance that continue to make Black and racialized women’s lives precarious. Similarly, Anthony Gebrehiwot’s Imana positions community engaged Black Canadian artists, “styled in a way that portrays them in their divine nature”. The black backgrounds of the series, exudes a sense of mysticism providing a surrealist, extraterrestrial feel to the work. Gebrehiwot’s use of d’bi young’s image is significant as she has been an artist beyond boundary in Canada. In Imana, Gebrehiwot illuminates d’bi’s third eye, rendering her Black fantastic-ness in a visual form, making imaginable the-hard-to-articulate essence of Black women unrelenting, and able to survive and excel in an anti-black world. One could read Imana as a temporal reordering of Black females bodies into a future orientated context, or an Afrofuturist discursive position, capable of refusing the unbearable weight of consumptive colonial visual histories, such as Francois Malepart de Beaucourt’s 1780 painting of Marie-Therese Zemire, an enslaved Black Canadian woman. The positions from which Gebrehiwot’s subjects enunciate are themselves emerging, far off and in the realm of the 14
fantastic. Yet, this terrain is precisely where a critical discursive intervention is both necessary and possible at our contemporary moment.
It is at the level of discourse that these works extend the continuing project of humanizing western life for Black bodies. The dominant discourses these portraits powerfully redress speak against and beyond the defacto anti-blackness that plagues too many Western institutions. The works in Skin Deep, then re-imagine and reconstitute a social realism, transmitting roles and realities of present and future Black lives in ways that troubles our present episteme — one built on the consistent dehumanization of the same labour that made possible the Western world. In the works of Anton, Cooper, Roberts, Springer, Gebrehiwot and Grey we encounter portraits that tackle the genre’s essence and historical function. We are treated to images that replace cliché images of Black hypersexuality, criminalization and poses of subservience, from Cooper’s nuanced spatial claims to national belonging in Canada, Anton’s images of Black joy within gender fluid and queer inclusive black spaces to Grey’s monochromatic capture of the Black body whose use of shadow speak eloquently against racial binaries. The collection of Black portraiture that constitute Skin Deep, (Re)Imaging the Portrait provide us with the tools we need to continue the work of Huey, Elaine and Bobby, of Walter, Violetta and Austin, of Malcolm, Martin and Rosa in 2015 and be-
Charmaine Nelson. Representing the Black Female Subject in Western Art. Routledge Publishing, 2001. 74.
Robert Hobbs (2008). “Kehinde Wiley: Detourning Representation” In Samir S. Patel, ed., Kehinde Wiley — The World Stage: Africa, LagosDakar. Harlem Studio Museum. 14.
Yannick Anton, print from Yes Yes, Yâ€™all series.
Dance Like No One is Watching By Felicia Mings Independent Curator and Arts Educator When asked to describe his body of work Trinidadian-Jamaican, GTA raised, self-taught photographer Yannick Anton replied, “a lot of party photographers have people pose but I try to catch the moments, I think that makes it different.” (Anton) In looking at Anton’s images in Skin Deep: (Re)Imaging the Portrait it is clear that he has a knack for vividly photographing moments of young, hip, and often black and brown folks performing or displaying their identities. These representations may come in the form of dance movements or clothing or can be seen in the energy of a party, or by a person’s pose. In all cases, his images call for recognition of a distinctive coolness and style emanating from young Black Canadians (Rogers). Anton’s photos highlight creative, youthful, and often queer communities. His images draw stylistic inspiration from the fashion,
culture and the modes of Black communities from around the globe and across time. Most evident is Anton’s ability to articulate the lifestyle and values of a segment of young Black Torontonians. Parties are particularly fruitful spaces for Anton’s style of photography, as they are a place in which fashion, music, art, and performance coexist. The monthly party Yes Yes Ya’ll is a space in which Anton has captured some of his most important and compelling shots. Yes Yes Ya’ll is a queer-positive party that occurs the third Friday of every month in the city. This party is well known for its collage of hip-hop, dancehall, rhythm and blues sounds as well as its queer-positive atmosphere that embraces diversity of gender, race, sexuality, age, and style. From these parties Anton captures black and white photographs of people from all walks of life in motion, dancing, drinking, laughing and embracing. Anton’s use of black and white accentuates the drama and performativity of each subject in the moments he captures them. The flash of his camera dramatizes his subject, highlighting the sheen of their skin, the shine of nail polish or the sparkle of jewelry. The periphery of the main figure is often shrouded in shadow. People are the central focus of Anton’s photos as he deemphasizes the background environment in order to bring attention to individuals and their performed identities. As a queer-positive party, many of the party-goers’ identities are not always embraced by main17
stream culture. Thus, the party is a safe space for their identities to flourish. Anton is able to capture crisp, candid shots because he is engrained in the urban, creative, queer-positive culture that he photographs. Anton naturally fell into the role of photographer because of his presence at friends’ music shows. His attendance at these music events has established his photographic rapport with the community. Anton has stated that music is a huge part of his work because it brings people together, regardless of “… color, creed, race, everyone likes to party”(Anton). Parties and ultimately nightlife do bring people together in ways that can be progressive in comparison to gatherings that take place in dayto-day space (Yunza 18). Anton’s party images signal a particular point of view, one that promotes inclusivity and diversity that is very much engrained in the artistic, nonprofit youth culture within downtown Toronto. An undeniable aspect of nightlife and the pulse of Toronto parties like Yes Yes Ya’ll is the essence of cool (Walker, Major). Parties generally have a connotation of being exclusive events for those in-the-know of what is hip and in style. Parties are a place to see beautiful people and be seen. As opposed to large-scale clubs that are open every weekend, monthly parties and those that happen on a rare occasion carry a higher cultural cache. A
consciousness and intellectualism is associated with being inthe-know of particular parties. Attendance at a party like Yes Yes Ya’ll demonstrates an understanding and appreciation for diversity. The ability to demonstrate knowledge on 1980s hip-hop and current dancehall music among other genres, signifies that one is conversant in music and cultures from around the globe. This positions a person as well travelled, worldly, and cool. In the words of Hank Willis-Thomas, “ ...the coolest kids weren’t the ones who could perform Blackness or whiteness the best; they were the ones who could flow seamlessly from metaphorical coast to coast without a ruffle...”(Willis-Thomas 106). Therefore, Anton’s images offer the allure of a cool, hip, and creative community while also signifying a type of intellectualism that is often associated with a global or diasporic way of being. The vibrancy of the moments he captures, the posturing of his subjects and the fashion styles can be referenced to sites that span across Black geographic and culture spaces (Mercer). While Anton’s images speak from the particular location of Toronto, (signaling the composite nature and intellectual task of performing Black identities in a Canadian context) they uniquely portray a kind of Toronto Black cool (Hall 447).
(This essay is an adaptation from Mings’ M.A. Thesis Black Maple: Exploring the Diasporic Aesthetic of new Toronto Artists Yannick Anton, Taiwo Bah and Nabil Shash.) Works Cited:
Blackness, ed. Rebecca Walker, Berkeley: Soft Skull Press, 2012, 106. Yuzna, Jake. “Will Art Have Fun? The Social Practice of Nightlife.” In THE FUN: Social Practice of Nightlife in NYC. Brooklyn: Museum of Arts and Design/ Powerhouse Books, 2013, 18
Anton, Yannick. Personal interview. 8 February 2014. Hall, Stuart. “New Ethnicities.” In Black Film/British Cinema, ed. Kobena Mercer, London: Institute of Contemporary Arts, 1988, 447. Major, Richard. The Cool Pose: The Dilemma’s of Black Manhood in America. Touchstone, 1993. Mercer, Kobena. “Art History and the Dialogics of Diaspora,” In Small Axe 16:2 38, Duke University Press: July 2012. Rogers, Thomas. “Worthwhile Canadian Coolness Sorry, America: Your northern neighbour is hipper than you,” The New Public, November 9, 2012. Accessed November 15, 2012, http://www.newrepublic.com/article/books-and-arts/109927/face-it-americans-canada-north-americas-coolest-country Walker, Rebecca. Black Cool: 1000 Streams of Blackness. Soft Skill Press, 2012. Willis-Thomas, Hank. “Soul.” In Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of 19
Yannick Anton, prints from Yes, Yes, Yâ€™all series.
Carolyn Roberts, images from (In)Convenience series, 2015, digital C-prints.
Carolyn Roberts, image from (In)Convenience series, 2015, digital C-prints.
Kara Springer, Ana and Andre series, 2014, archival pigment print
Kara Springer, Ana and Andre series, 2014, archival pigment print
Ella Cooper, Body Land Identity (Portrait of Tiya Zulu, Squamish, Coast Salish Territories), 2013, digital C-print
Ella Cooper, Body Land Identity (Portrait of Idel Mire, Squamish, Coast Salish Territories), 2013, digital C-print.
Ella Cooper, Body Land Identity (Portrait of Suritah Wignall, Toronto, Menecing/Mississauga Territory), 2013, digital C-print. 26
Anthony Gebrehiwot, Katonda (Tennesha) from Imana series, 2015, digital C-print.
Artists YANNICK ANTON is a celebrated Toronto-based photographer who over the last number of years has carved out a niche in the city’s urban music and cultural scene both as an event photographer within spaces like Yes Yes Ya’ll, and as a personal photographer for notable local artists, musicians and bands including vocalist Brendan Phillip, hip-hop artist Keita Juma, fashion designer Mic Carter of L’uomo Strano and the indie-rock group OBGM. Yannick’s work has been showcased at Ryerson University as part of their 2010 exhibit with his installation entitled What do you see? and later in 2014 as part of the Ryerson Image Centre’s ‘What It Means to Be Seen: Photography and Queer Visibility’ exhibition during World Pride 2014. Yannick, who began his career as a member of the multi-disciplinary artist collective 88 Days of Fortune, continues to freelance in Toronto, while also traveling across Canada and the U.S with a number of musical acts.
ELLA COOPER is an award winning multidisciplinary artist, photographer, emerging documentary filmmaker and arts educator/facilitator based in Toronto. She is an artist of mixed African, Canadian, British, Jewish descent who holds an extensive background in photography, film, sound, visual arts, dance, and socially engaged arts. Her current work explores Canadian Black female identity and the body, multiracial feminism, dominant visual culture, community storytelling, media-arts empowerment, environmental arts and hybrid identities. She is a past recipient of a Canada Council Inter-Arts Grant, Chalmers Professional Development Award, City of Vancouver award and OAC’s Multi-Arts & Emerging Visual Artist Grant for dance photography, community environmental art projects and photobased soundscape installations. To date, Ella’s work has been presented in galleries, subways, gardens, festivals and in public works in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, as well as on the CBC.
Artists ANTHONY GEBREHIWOT, a graduate from York University, is a professional photographer and community leader alongside RISE Edutainment and Unity Charity. Prior to joining RISE and Unity, he was managing his own community-based initiative titled, Shooting for Change (shootingforchange.tumblr.com). All the profits made from his professional clients went towards feeding less fortunate citizens in the downtown Toronto area. Anthony now has his own photography business titled, XvXy-photo (www.xvxyphotocom). It has a studio/portrait focus which aims to build dream chasers everywhere by visually communicating the subject’s essence through imagery. Anthony aims to deify subject in very creative, unique and tasteful ways. He also believes in the power of knowledge and is helping to strengthen his community by engaging youth through local programming with several community organizations leading workshops on creative writing, photography and self-development. Ultimately, his goal is to empower future generation by helping them realize their unlimited potential and to effectively utilize their skill sets.
JAH GREY’s photographic work is focused primarily on portraiture. He’s inspired by exploring his vulnerabilities and the vulnerabilities of those around him. His art redefines social norms of gender, race, sexuality and rebelling against the constructs others place on our bodies and personal identities. His digital portraits encourage us all to live out loud and not feel silenced or shamed around our bodies but feel able to express ourselves in any way we choose. By focusing on challenging these concepts, Jah Grey works to remind all of us of the similarities we share, despite our different backgrounds.
Artists CAROLYN ROBERTS is an emerging artist residing in Regent Park, Toronto. Her current passion is in photography, though her plans are to pursue other creative mediums in the future as a way to share her stories. Born and raised in Scarborough, Ontario she has been influenced by the diverse cultures that thrive in this city. Self-taught in her craft, she runs a photography and video business where she offers both services to her clients. Her work has demanded her to travel internationally to sites including Trinidad, Mexico and Costa Rica. Some of her works have been published in various magazine and newspaper outlets including the Toronto Star. Carolyn is a woman who knows the value of believing in oneself and putting hard work towards dreams. She hopes to inspire others to love fearlessly and to evolve into their â€˜best selfâ€™ possible.
KARA SPRINGER is an industrial designer and visual artist. Of Bajan and Jamaican parentage, she was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, and raised in Windsor, Ontario. Her interdisciplinary practice explores the intersections of the body and industrial modes of production through sculpture, photography and designed objects. Kara completed an Hon.B.Sc. in Life Sciences from the University of Toronto concurrent to a B.Des. in Industrial Design from the Ontario College of Art & Design and studied Contemporary Technology at ENSCI Les Ateliers in Paris. Her work has been exhibited at the Frankfurt Museum of Applied Arts in Germany, the Politecnico di Torino in Italy, the Cultural Center of Belem in Portugal, and was included in the 2014 Jamaica Biennial.
Curator PAMELA EDMONDS is a visual and media arts curator who received a BFA and MA in Art History from Concordia University, Montreal. Her primary focus has been on thematic exhibitions by contemporary Canadian artists that investigate the role of visual culture in the construction of traditional concepts of identity, race, gender and nationalism, and on artwork that actively deconstructs these perceptions. Recent curated exhibitions include Tracings: W5 Art Collective at the Women’s Arts Resource Centre Gallery, Toronto, 2014), Bounty: Chikonzero Chazunguza (Gallery 101, Ottawa 2013), Erika DeFreitas: Deaths/Births/Memorials (Centre 3 for Print and Media Arts, Hamilton, 2013), 28 Days: Reimagining Black History Month (Justina M. Barnicke Gallery/Georgia Scherman Projects, Toronto, 2012). She is a founding member of Third Space Art Projects, a curatorial collective that focuses on multidisciplinary art projects that explore the visual cultures of the Black Atlantic.
Contributing Writer FELICIA MINGS is an independent curator and arts educator. A founding Program Manager for Nia Centre for the Arts, Felicia received an Honors BA in Art and Art History from the University of Toronto and Sheridan College in 2008 and an MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 2014. Her work explores intersections between curatorial practice, art education and community development, particularly within the visual culture and vernacular practices of Afro-diasporic youth communities. She is also the Inaugural Coordinator of Andrew W. Mellon Academic Programs at the Art Institute of Chicago. Recently, she curated What We All Long For at SAIC’s Student Union Galleries (2014) and Fine Color a series of short films for the Chicago Home Theater Festival (2014). In addition Felicia developed and facilitated the Youth Film Club at Theaster Gates’ Black Cinema House, and served as Project Manager for the Museum of Science and Industry’s 2014 Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition. Prior to relocating to Chicago, Felicia worked with not-for-profit organizations in St. Catharines and Toronto to enhance educational attainment, access to the arts and socio-economic opportunities for youth. 31
Acknowledgements Pamela would like to thank Mark Campbell, Executive Director of the Nia Centre for the Arts for selecting her as guest curator for this year’s EXPOSED exhibition. It was a pleasure to work with him on the conception of the project and see it through to the publication and exhibition. Many thanks to the Nia Centre’s support staff and associates who provided assistance throughout this process. This includes, Leticia Rose, Idil Jeilani, Ebti Nabag as well as Whitney French for editing the essays and Julian Apong for the design of the catalogue. A special thank you to Alex Buchanan at Project Gallery for his continued and invaluable support in bringing the exhibition to fruition.
Nia Centre for the Arts is a Toronto-based not-for-profit organization that supports, showcases and promotes an appreciation of arts from across the African diaspora. We create opportunities for young people to develop healthy identities and for communities to enhance their creative capabilities. Our programming includes facilitation training, exhibitions, mentorship and culturally-specific arts experiences. EXPOSED is Nia Centre’s annual visual arts exhibition designed to share our unique experiences within the various Afro-diaspora communities in the GTA and abroad through the power of visual arts.
Pamela also gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Ontario Arts Council and Third Space Art Projects for recommending artists for funding through the Exhibition Assistance Program. We also express gratitude to all the uniquely talented artists presented in this publication for their singular visions and commitment to their practices. 32
Credits Copyright ÂŠ 2015 Nia Centre for the Arts & Contributors All Rights Reserved. the contributors and the Nia Centre for the Arts
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Curator: Pamela Edmonds Editor: Whitney French Design: Julian Apong Printing: Blitz Print House Catalog of the exhibition held at Project Gallery, 1109 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON, M4M 1K7 www.projectgallerytoronto.com
Yannick Anton, print from Yes, Yes, Yâ€™all series.
Project Gallery 1109 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON, M4M 1K7 www.projectgallerytoronto.com
Nia Centre for the Arts 524 Oakwood Avenue Toronto, ON M6E 2X1 www.niacentre.org
Catalogue of the exhibition presented through Nia Centre at Project Gallery, Toronto March 19 - April 1, 2015
Published on Apr 29, 2015
Catalogue of the exhibition presented through Nia Centre at Project Gallery, Toronto March 19 - April 1, 2015