September 13, 2018 – January 6, 2019
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 13, 2018 at 7 pm
Artists: Shellicka Anglin, Black Artists Union, Noah Brown, Sean George, Charmaine Lurch, Jamilah Malika, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, Camille Turner, Jan Wade, and Syrus Marcus Ware
Commentators: Alyssa Fearon, Reighen Grineage, Felicia Mings, and Charmaine Nelson
Emerging from the research that has informed the podcast series Black Lives Rooted initiated by the Art Gallery of Guelph in early 2018, Critical Mass features the work of established and emerging Black artists from across Canada. Reflecting the complexity and diversity of Blackness in a transnational context, the exhibition speaks to the geography of politics and identity at national and civic levels, addressing the historic invisibility and erasure of the experience of Black history in Canada as well as our own region.
Featured are such established artists as Camille Turner and Jan Wade who continue their compelling Afro-futurist explorations, while Syrus Marcus Ware, Sean George and emerging artists Shellicka Anglin, Noah Brown, and Kosisochukwu Nnebe delve into the relationship of Black identity, activism and representation. Charmaine Lurch continues her environmentally-focused work on bees and matriarchy, Jamilah Malika offers a new sound work grounded in the cadence of Black women’s voices, and the 11-member Black Artists Union brings a rich collaborative and multidisciplinary installation that challenges colonial models of the museum. The works of these artists are complemented by the curatorial and research work of Dr. Charmaine Nelson, Felicia Mings, and Alyssa Fearon.
Critical Mass builds on the AGG’s collaborative relationship with the Guelph Black Heritage Society that has included such programming as the 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial program, The Crossings Project (with Silence), Emancipation Day and the upcoming Afronautic Research Lab (Camille Turner in conjunction with the University of Guelph Library and Archives, Office of Diversity and Human Rights, and Guelph Black Student Association).
Afronautic Research Lab
Saturday, September 29 | 12 – 5 pm
Heritage Hall, 83 Essex Street, Guelph, ON N1H 3K9
The Afronauts are coming to Heritage Hall on Saturday, September 29 from 12 to 5 pm! A project led by artist Camille Turner, the Afronauts are space travellers who left earth 10,000 years ago and have returned to their home planet to save it. Inspired by the stories of the Dogon people of Mali, they invite citizen researchers into their Afronautic Research Lab, a reading room that brings participants in contact with archival and documentary evidence revealing the roots of anti-Blackness, such as 18th century newspapers containing ads posted by Canadian slave owners, life narratives from the Black community, and records of blackface incidents on campuses.
Presented by the Art Gallery of Guelph in collaboration with the Guelph Black Heritage Society, the Afronautic Research Lab continues at the University of Guelph:
- Tuesday, October 2 | 9 am – 5 pm, University Centre
- Wednesday, October 3 | 9 am – 5 pm, Library, Archives and Special Collections
Critical Mass is organized by the Art Gallery of Guelph and curated by Andrew Hunter, Senior Curator, with Kerry Ann Cornwall, Director – Programming, Guelph Black Heritage Society. Presented with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.
Image: Shellicka Anglin, Mint Green Bantu Knots (detail), 2018, acrylic on canvas, 244 x 183 cm