2021 COMMIT US TO MEMORY
COMMIT US TO MEMORY: BLACK WOMEN CURATORS INTERRUPTING THE CANON
The Vancouver Art Gallery, in collaboration with The State of Blackness, presents Commit us to memory: Black Women curators interrupting the canon, a public program organized within the framework of the exhibition Where do we go from here?. The event was held on May 27th 2021; moderated by the exhibition’s guest curator and featured artist Nya Lewis, the roundtable included her guests Alyssa Fearon, Kosisochukwu Nnebe and Geneviève Wallen.
The roundtable stems in part from Commit Us to Memory (2020), a provocative site-specific installation by Lewis conceived specifically for Where do we go from here? in response to the Gallery’s colonialist architecture and history. Located at the centre of the exhibition, this monumental text-based work functions as a kind of manifesto, poem and testimony, which speak to the complexity of Black Canadian expression and experience. Lewis integrates into the installation the titles of important exhibitions curated by Black curators in Canada, proposing a groundwork for an art history of Black artistic production across Canada. For this important roundtable discussion, Lewis and her peers will reflect on the ongoing work—both past and present—of building a Black art history for the future.
Alyssa Fearon currently holds the position of Director/Curator at the Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina Public Library. Integral to Fearon’s curatorial practice is a community-based approach that prioritizes the voices of historically underrepresented audiences. In 2018, Fearon was the inaugural Curator of Nuit Blanche Toronto’s Scarborough zone. Fearon was also Curator at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba (2018-2020). She has held lecturer positions at York University, University of Toronto Scarborough, and Brandon University. Raised in Scarborough, Ont., Fearon is now based on Treaty 4 territory in Regina, Saskatchewan. alyssafearon.com
Nya Lewis is a Vancouver based, independent curator and MFA candidate at OCAD. Moved by the goal of equitable access to art and diverse stories in Canada, her work is the culmination of African resistance, love questions, actions, study, and embrace. Currently she serves as the Founder and Director of Black Art Gastown, a year-round programmer Vancouver Queer Film Festival, and contributing curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery and UBC Museum of Anthropology. A writer, activist, and community organizer committed to building just and inclusive cultural and social infrastructure in Vancouver – her work celebrates the strength and perseverance of Black Canadian culture, history, and its diversity. nyalewiswilliams.com
Kosisochukwu Nnebe is a Nigerian-Canadian visual artist. An economist by training and a policy analyst by profession, her visual arts practice aims to engage viewers on issues both personal and structural in ways that bring awareness to their own complicity. Her work has been exhibited at AXENEO7, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Place des Arts, the Art Gallery of Guelph, the Nia Centre, Studio Sixty Six, Z-Art Space, Station 16, and the Mohr Gallery in Mountain View, California, She has given presentations on her artistic practice and research at universities across Quebec, including Laval, McGill and Concordia, and has facilitated workshops at the National Gallery of Canada, the Ottawa Art Gallery, and Redwood City High School in California. She is currently based in Ottawa. colouredconversations.com
Geneviève Wallen is a Tiohtiá:ke Mooniyang/Montreal and Tkaronto/Toronto based independent curator, writer, and researcher. Wallen’s practice is informed by diasporic narratives, intersectional feminism, intergenerational dialogues, BIPOC alternative healing platforms. Her ongoing research focuses on the intersections of longevity and pleasure as contemplative spaces for care work in the arts. Wallen is the Exhibition Coordinator at FOFA Gallery. She is also part of the collective YTB (Younger than Beyoncé) Gallery; the co-initiator (with Marsya Maharani) of Souped Up; a member of the Black Curators Forum; an advisory committee member for the BLACK PORTRAITURE[S]: Toronto, Absent/ed Presence conference and she recently joined the advisory board of the Centre for the Study of Black Canadian Diaspora. genevievewallen.com
This site is dedicated to Ayanna Black (1939-2009).
Ayanna Black was a fierce defender of Black Canadian culture and its production and dissemination. She believed we as Black Canadians have stories to tell about ourselves and relentlessly created spaces in which we could celebrate our joys. Black was a co-founder of Canadian Black Artists in Action (CAN BAIA).
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