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Future, Forward, Forever: A Black Artists Exhibit

Artscape is pleased to announce ‘Future, Forward, Forever: A Black Artists Exhibit’, at the Daniels Spectrum Hallway Gallery, which celebrates the incredible talent, stories, and work of the Black artists within our communities. The exhibition will feature painting, photography, mixed-media and more from a group of talented Black artists in the City.

We sat down with a few of them to learn more about their work.

Affrica Spence begins every piece of art with a blank mind – usually not knowing what will come of it. “I have feelings like an itch on my back but I cannot verbalize them,” she says, adding that in recent years her blank canvas-approach has shifted towards the theme of Black bodies.

“I gravitate towards Black bodies because of how many years Blackness was not my default. It took until high school for me to realize my default for every character I read in books was white. Returning to my creative process, by the end of it I see into a truth.”

Since 2016, Affrica has focused her efforts on building her passion project Voetry, a docu-series that combines spoken word, poetry and visual arts.

(@thisisvoetry)’s work has received official selection in several film festivals including the Caribbean Tales International Film Festival, Montreal Independent Film Festival, WebFest T.O and the NY International Arts Festival.⁣

Patricia Ellah (@patriciaellah) is a Nigerian-Canadian Photographer based in Toronto. She began making images at her Markham High School, before enrolling to Parsons the New School of Design, earning a degree in photography. She works primarily in film, documenting and celebrating her community. ⁣

“I am inspired by beauty, I am always searching for a beautiful, soft moment to capture,” she said. “That means I am also always searching for something. I am inspired to spend each day searching for something beautiful and exciting enough to photograph.”

Ellah focuses her work on the lives that surround her, adding that she wants to appreciate and remember everything she sees – “How visually captiviating life can be…”

Kristen Allicock began working on her pieces for “Opposites Attract” in the Fall of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, and consequential lockdowns provided her with the time to ‘slow down’ and ‘reevaluate’ things in her life. It also rekindled her love for art, and reminded her of the therapeutic aspect of creativity.

Following this series, she began working on Come(Unity)” – a series that focused on telling the story of a sexual violence survivor. The show was in collaboration with an organization called Hope 24/7, a non-profit that offers supports and services to survivors.

“Given the heaviness of the subject matter and the audience, I didn’t want to create something that was triggering,” Kristen said, “I wanted to create something that would spark joy and hope. The choice of colours were purposeful, as they represent a myriad of positive attributes such as bravery, wisdom, love, kindness, femininity. I chose the contrasting colours on the figures to represent opposing forces (good/evil, strong/weak, etc.) The piece on a whole represents the calm after the storm and to remind those who are suffering that there is strength in numbers and that we need to stand together in order to help one another.”

Future, Forward, Forever will be @theartofkdominique’s second in-person show and second gallery showing in her career as an artist.

CRUNCH (@crunchojack) is a Toronto based abstract and fine artist whose practice involves observing the social events that surround him, and responding with honest emotions.

“The inspiration that guides my process is my story, the way I convey my story, and the outlook of my story. These three pillars help me to develop and strategically place strokes and text in my artwork,” he said.

CRUNCH uses his work to dream about what society can become, and to convey ideas of hope and pride.⁣

“My work speaks to emotions of anger; specifically for how society has treated those who look like me. Using my emotions and observations has allowed me to take my artwork to new heights, and make viewers feel more awake to what happens outside of our circles of influence.”⁣

To learn more about the faces behind the talent, click through their social media handles below.

• Affrica Spence – @thisisvoetry
• Exmiranda – @sincerelyexmiranda
• Dion Thorne – @crunchojack
• Kamorudeen Aruna – @monsterboyink
• Kristen Allicock – @theartofkdominique
• Yvonne Stanley – @we.want.ev
• Radia Yusuf – @radiaspov
• Patricia Ellah – @patriciaellah
• Matthew Pompey – @designyoursoul
• Sydellia Ndiaye – @sydelliandiaye

The show is on until March 7th at the Daniels Spectrum Hallway Gallery (585 Dundas St E).

Opening hours are Monday – Friday 9:00am to 6:30pm, Saturday 9:00am to 3:30pm.

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