'It is crucial that Black art be present'
Critical Creations is marking Black History Month with an exhibition at the Galerie Mile-End featuring eight Montreal-based visual artists.
Symbols of Resistance: An Exhibition Celebrating the Convergence of Black Artists and their Stories runs until February 28. The show explores Black identity and its representation.
All of the featured artists participated in a residency program jointly run by Critical Creations and the Critical Feminist Activism and Research (C-FAR) project — housed in Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute.
The residency was designed to encourage artists who want to create art for social impact, strengthen relationships within Montreal’s Black communities and inspire constructive dialogue with peripheral communities.
“This project emerged as a recognition and response to the lack of resourced spaces and opportunities for Black visual artists to express their sense of identity and engage in artistic conversations which highlight their communities,” says Critical Creations’ Annick MF.
Resistance was a common theme throughout the residency. However, the artists explored it in different ways — for example, by looking at everyday aspects of Black life such as hair, or reclaiming history in places where stories have been erased.
The final exhibition includes photographs, paintings, digital illustrations and even woodworks.
“The title, Symbols of Resistance, is a nod to the large spectrum of resistance work done within Black communities and an ode to the many symbols that have carried the strength of Black resistance through time and space,” MF says.
Starting in March, large-format poster versions of the original artworks will go on a Montreal-wide exhibition tour until January 2019.
“We choose to use Black History Month as an entry point into these artistic conversations, as this month has become the only conventional moment where conversations around Blackness are given space and resources to occur,” MF says.
“However, it is crucial that Black art and representations of Blackness be present and accessible year-round.”
MF adds that the coordinators hope those who attend will demand more spaces to continue the conversation. “We hope that our visitors become hungry for more of this type of work.”
Check out the Symbols of Resistance exhibition at Galerie Mile-End, 5345 Avenue du Parc, until February 28. For opening hours and updates, visit the C-FAR website.