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Honouring Black Presence

at Concordia University

The new public art program, Honouring Black Presence at Concordia, is a long-term initiative to celebrate the histories, presence, and futures of Black Concordians through the creation of ephemeral public artworks. 

The university is piloting the new public art program with the first selected artist and aims to see the initiative grow into a 12-year project. The inaugural artwork will be on public display for approximately three years. The goal is for there to be a total of four cycles of three years and that each cycle will showcase the work of a different artist/group of artists.

Project context

In 2020, Concordia University struck the President’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism, in response to the growing demand to confront racial discrimination and injustice that exists within its institutional fabric. Two years later, the task force presented 88 recommendations in a final report, one of which was to create and develop a public art program dedicated to acknowledging the continued presence and contributions of Black communities at Concordia and its founding institutions (Sir George Williams University and Loyola College).

Project goals

  • Commission a series of outstanding works of art that centre around Black aesthetics, knowledge and identities as well as the longstanding and continued Black presence at Concordia
  • Serve as a platform for a wider public debate on the role of public art, and civic spaces in Montreal
  • Recognize the vital contributions of the Black communities and Black students which have historically been undervalued.
  • Support and initiate commissions of temporary contemporary art and raise the profile of the commissioned artists.
  • Support Black artists and showcase the plurality of Black voices and experience.
Exterior view of Bishop Street entrance of the Henry F. Hall Building Exterior view of Bishop Street entrance of the Henry F. Hall Building

2023 jury

  • Cynthia Alphonse, project coordinator, President’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism, Concordia University
  • Dominique Dumont, Director Strategic Planning and Development, Facilities Management, Concordia University
  • Dominique Fontaine, curator, cultural strategist, and founding director of aPOSteRIORI
  • Annie Gérin, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Concordia University
  • Analays Alvarez Hernandez, curator, public art specialist, and assistant professor at Université de Montréal
  • Leon Llewellyn, artist and educator and founding member of Black Art Histories Montreal (BAHM)
  • Michaëlle Sergile, artist, cultural worker and Concordia graduate student
  • Michèle Theriault, curator, writer and co-director of Periculum Foundation for Contemporary Art

The 2023 shortlist of artist candidates

This first Canada-wide call for Black artists resulted in 21 submissions, three of which were shortlisted. 

Dawit L. Petros

Dawit is an Eritrean visual artist, researcher and educator based in Montreal. His work bridges the fields of art, design, architecture and history and aims to “interrogate how legacies of colonialism are enmeshed in current events.”

Diptych image with a black and white portrait on the left of a man wearing a fedora-type hat and wearing a black long-sleeved top and on the right a photo of a person standing on the bank of a river and holding what looks like a long rectangular photo at head height. Dawit L. Petros and his piece “Untitled (Epilogue VIII), Longueuil, Quebec,” 2021. Impression au jet d’encre / Archival pigment print, 2021. | Photos by Dawit L. Petros

Charles Campbell, BFA 92 

Charles is a Jamaican-born multidisciplinary artist, writer and curator based in Vancouver. He shares that his practice “animates the future imaginaries possible in the wake of slavery and colonization.”  

His artworks, which include sculptures, paintings, sonic installations and performances, have been exhibited widely in Canada and internationally. 

A diptych image with a ring structure/sculpture in a gallery on the left and a black and white portrait of a man with short dark hair, a goatee beard and wearing a black t-shirt and open collared shirt Charles Campbell and his piece “Breath Cycle 1,” 2022. | Photos: Left (art) photo by Dennis Ha, right (portrait) photo by Lia Crowe

Anna Jane McIntyre and Charmaine Lurch 

The only team submission withdrew from the competition.

A collage of four photos showing artists and their artwork in various stages. Top: Anna Jane McIntyre and her performance pieces “Context is everything” (2021) and Aa is for “Afropresentism.” Bottom: Charmaine Lurch and her piece “Sycorax Scene II,” 2020. | Photos: Top left photo by alignements; top right photo by Kinga Michalska; bottom left photo by Vero Diaz; bottom right photo by Hannah Zbitnew.

Support this initiative and celebrate the foundational work and contributions of Black Communities and students at Concordia.

Contact us

Sandra Margolian
Public Art Lead, Concordia University Library

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