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... in a rather primal way, art is a "cry for identity" 

 George Elliot Clarke, Poet. 


"Ethnicity is often regarded as an irrelevant category of analysis in the arts... Yet ethnicity  is one of the most consistent variables that mediates creativity and/or structure the form and language of creative expression"

Excerpt - Nkiru Nzegwu, Curatorial Statement

"The Creation Of The African Canadian Odyessy"

Exhibition Catalogues

Power Plant Gallery




An experimental interdisciplinary exhibition that explored and spoke about the experience of Black people in Canada. It looked at the way the creative expression of Black artists acquires a different overtone when presented within its "natural," interdisciplinary, multidimensional framework of an African based aesthetics. The exhibition was consciously designed to be atmospherically inline with the performance based mode of African aesthetic presentation.

Curator: Nkiru Nzegwu

Artists: Stan Douglas (installation film&video artist, Vancouver), Khadejha McCall (multi-media fiber artist, Montreal), Roland Bastien (installation performance artist, Montreal),  Grace Channer (painter/Installation artist, Toronto), June Clarke-Greenberg (visual artist, Toronto), Ayanna Black (poet), Neil Brathwaite (saxophonist, Toronto)

Gallery 44 & The Photography Gallery, Harbourfront



1992 is the first time that an international representation of black photographic artists were exhibited in Canada: This exhibition represented an exploration of the general condition of the African diaspora by artists of African descent. Traditional, the images of African peoples for mass consumption have been provided by mainstream institutions that have little or no commitment to  a broader expression of ideals, challenges, history and aesthetics of African origin. The artists represented provide very personal views of issues such as objectification of the human body, the racist nature of language, appropriation of cultural symbols, motherhood, and social oppression.

Curated by David Zapparoli

Coordinated by Marylin Ki.

Artists: Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Michael Chambers, Reginald Jackson, Donna M. A. James, Carl Sanders, Kojo Kamau, and Gene Young, David Zapparoli, Armet Francis, V. Mkki Ferrill, Sharon Farmer, Roy Lewis, Kok Nam, Bill Sanders, Edward Sherman, Hugh P. Grannum,

York Quay Gallery, Harbourfront



This exhibition revealed the participant artists' inherent knowledge of the ethos of African diasporic experience which is embodied in the oral tradition and passed down from one generation to the next.  The work of these two artists demonstrates the extent to which this oral mode has been incorporated and translated into various contemporary forms.

Curators: Alana McKnight and June Clark-Greenberg

Artists: Floyde Sinclair Sandiford (sculptor, Montreal) and Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons (painter, Cuba)

A Space Gallery


Politics And Icons Of Representation


The exhibition explored the  explicit character of an African based creative experience through examining what the artists feel are the important critical ideas about their works and diversity of media.

Curator: Nkiru Nzegwu


From Canada: Jim Adams (Painter), Dennis Awang (stained glass), Januario Tomas Cordeiro (painter), Carline Pierre-Jacques (ceramicist), Denyse Thomasos (painter), Winsom (textiles), Carlyle Matthew (mask).

From USA: Houston Conwill (sculptor) Estella Majozo (poet), Joseph De Pace (architect),  Louis Delsarte (painter), Napoleon Jones-Henderson (fiber artists), Jon Lockard (painter), Valerie Maynard (sculpture/printmaker), Evangeline Montgomery (sculptor), Ademola Olugebefola (painter)

From Nigeria: Olu Amoda (sculptor), Moyo Okediji (mud painter), Chinwe Uwatse (painter),

Uncommon Objects Gallery, Harbourfront



This exposition consists of an assortment of creations from East, West Central and South Africa. All of the items are of a practical nature and handcrafted by both children and adults for their everyday use or exclusive commercial trade.

Curated by: Earthly Treasures Craft Gallery

Objects Country of origin: Zambia/Angola5, Kenya, Botswana,  Zimbabwe, Angola, Swaziland, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Egypt,



July , 1992

In the spirit of CELEBRATING AFRICAN IDENTITY African American artists displayed work that spoke to the theme. The exhibition was a collection of works created by professional artists, student, founders and NCA members.


NCA Juried Show: Sharon Minor-King, Georgette Parnell, Denga McKanta, Toni Chipenda, Sandra Ford, Selma Gless Varnette, Yvonne Cutching, Cynthia Potter, Albert Shore, Bernard Cully, Paul Goodnight, Earl Jackson, Frank Frazer, Honey Wood, Michelle Woods


Elders: Jack Jordan, William Bing Davis, Marg Borroughs, Claude Clark, Elizabeth Catlett, Lois May Jones, Murray DePillars, Ernie Crushlow

Youth Exhibit

As part of the NCA exhibit, The works of art students from major college and university programs across the U.S were showcased.  This exhibit focused on the innovative young people and the diversity of their work from paintings to quilts and prints.

The Black Line


July 1992

Black Canadian Architects contribute their creativity and solidly grounded design sensibilities to addressing the world's many challenges in architecture: environmental issues in architecture;  building materials in affordable housing in hot climates; housing intensification and affordability, homes, office, institutional, and commercial issues in design; the use of Autocad software in design and development of homes; visual impact assessments in landscape planning & design; parks and heritage restoration.

Curators:  Roxana Farrell, Architect, Educator,

                  Bushra Junaid, Architect, Researcher

Architects/Designers:  Roger Kwadzo Amenyogbe, Louis Headley, Deion Green, Maxim James, Clive McKenzie, Victor St. Hugo Holt, Devon Tully, Rohan Walters

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Royal Ontario Museum - ROM


May 27 - August 24, 1997


This exhibition was a prelude to the launch of CELAFI 1997 and a home-coming celebration for Artis Lane, to bookmark the historic inaugural exhibition of the first Black Canadian artist to exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum-Canadiana Gallery.  Artis Lane (nee Shreve), one of Canada's most successful export was born in 1927 in North Buxon, Ontario, a community built by ex-slaves and one of the final "stops" on the Underground Railroad. Lane is a direct descendant of abolitionist and newspaper editor Mary Ann Shadd and George Shreve, a teacher and Grand Master of the Prince Hall Masonary who was married to Mary Ann's sister Elizabeth.

Artis Lane's home-coming celebration gifted Canada with another historic occasion.  The only Canadian visit by Rosa Parks, America Civil Rights Icon, was a surprise to everyone and a gift to Artis, a respected friend, on the auspicious occasion of her ROM exhibition.  Artis Lane's bronze bust of Rosa Parks is in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC.  

Reclaiming Life's Essentials..... In this universe, no one survives as a whole being when detached from religion and believes.  Detachment is a severing from life's essentials: roots, foundation, context, security, and kinship.  Sustaining our spirituality under the strain of present-day society accounts for the increasing search for African culture from the stance of traditional solidarity.  Artis Lane's sculptures are metaphysical expressions of the physical body as ciphers of spiritual progress and vehicles for spiritual journeying.  "they give form" says Artis "to our evolution from matter to spiritual awareness"  They are symbolic spiritual guides on  our Canadian path as we "reclaim life's essentials."

Programmer/Curator: Marva Ollivierre

Essayist: Adrienne Shadd, Historian, Writer

Artist: Artis Lane, Sculptor

Art Gallery of Ontario - AGO


July 9 - October 24, 1997


Ancestors - grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers - Spiritual systems - Santeria, Abakwa, Candomble, Umbanda, Pukumminia, Catholicism, Hoodoo and Vodun.  Ritual specialists - babalawa, papaloi, iyalorixa, obeah, houngan, mambo.  Divination systems - ifa, boco.  Divinities (Orisha/orixas/loa) - Oya, Sango/Xango, Oshun, Ogun/Ogoun, Oshosi/Oshossi, Obatala/Oxala, Obaluaye/Omolu, Yemoja/Yemanja, Orumila, Olorun/Olofin, Nzambi, Damballa, Gede, Arada, Congo, Agwe, Eshu-Legba-Eleggua. Lifeforce - Ase/axe


In the diasporic African world, these names, concepts and categories mark the terrain of the syncretized Afro-spiritual practices in the America.  Naming a reality once hidden from view, they rend the veil of erasure and silence that was imposed on African spirituality.  They mark the spaces of African cultural survival in the Americas, and the institutions utilized in the transformations of personal experiences into spiritual energy.


Curator: NkIru Nzegwu - Historian, Author,

Artists: Khadejha McCall (Coquitlam, B.C.), Kofi Kayiga (Boston, Massachusetts), Jan Wade (Hamilton Ontario), Roland Jean ( Toronto), Winsom (Toronto), Keith Agard ( Toronto)

Thames Art Gallery, Chatham Cultural Centre


African Canadian Visions Entering The Millennium

July 5 - September 14, 1997

The paradigm of this exhibition is that we must dispose of the stereotypical "ethnic art art" label that is and has been ascribe to art work from groups outside of Euro-Canada.  Though their heritage is rooted in other countries, the artists who have created the works in this exhibition are very much a part of Canada's history and cultural mosaic:

Transforming the Image is significant to the Thames Art Gallery and Kent Country because it recalls the history and demographic presence of African Canadian heritage in this area: back to the times and experience of the "Underground Railway" the Dawn and Elgin Settlement, Mary Ann Shadd and Josiah Henson
Carl Lavoy - Thames Gallery Curator


"While Imagery, technique and spirit of 'black art' may have a strong cultural voice, it is first and foremost art"
Jim Adams, Visual Artist, Vancouver BC

The artists represented here are characterized by unique visions and a commitment to artmaking.  This has allowed them to recycle found materials, and reassemble or create new statements that are contextualized by a series of issues and themes.  These issues include: theories on gender, race and identity politics; "hybridity" as a defining moment for African diasporic American cultures in the "New World", In short, these visions are a blending of African, and/or Indigenous and Euro-Canadian traditions, and the reclaiming of lost identities and histories.  As we approach the new millennium, the confidence in themselves as serious professional artists, together with the content directions in their work, provide us with energy and hope for the new age.

Curator: Rosalie Smith McCrea,

Curatorial Assistant:  Orla Garriques

Artists: Jim Adams (White Rock, BC), David Alexander (Stirling, Ontario), Buseje Bailey (Toronto, Ontario), Gordon Christopher (Calgary, Alberta), Michael Chambers (Toronto, Ontario),  Ormsby Ford (St. Lambert, Quebec), Ali Hosein Ottawa, Ontario), Roberta Huebene (Ottawa, Ontario), Artis Lane (Ruidoso, New Mexico - formerly North Buxton, Ontario), Carlyle Matthew (Port Coquitlam, BC), Llyod Pollard (Brampton, Ontario), Barbara Prezeau Stephenson (Port-au-Prince, Haiti - lives extensively in Montreal), Yvon Villaceaux (Ottawa, Ontario), David Zapparolli (Toronto, Ontario)

Gallery 44


July 9 - 13, 1997


In essence, Canada is emblematic of the notion of the New World, And Toronto, lying at the heart of this vast expanse, is surely the archetype of this mix, this cohabitation of people from five continents, with histories and trajectories that are sometime contradictory ... The self we seek is often a heterogeneous assemblage of images, cliches and memories.  A hallucinated concept of the world, of self and it environment.  The challenge of the artist is to create a richness from this chaos, ...  It is to that genius that the five photographers presented testify  -

excerpt from Traces of Identity Curatorial statement


Curator: Simon Njami, Writer, Editor - REVUE NOIRE

Artists: Pedro Alderete, Stella Fakiyesi, Serge Emmanuel Jongué, Kirk Moses and David Zapparoli, 

A Space Gallery


July 14 - July 26, 1997

This exhibition From the Streets: New Vision of the Millennium heralds a vibrant and youthful national community of contemporary African  Canadian visual artists on a quest for new creative orientations. Their mission arises not only because of their intercultural backgrounds, but from the intuitive sense that they no longer have to relate their art to traditional concepts...  

Marva Ollivierre,  Programmer, General Manager, CELAFI 1997 

From The Street: New Vision for the Millennium represents a number of component of multi-faceted curatorial practice we consider essential in building dialogue on Canadian Art, culture and national identity. From the Street moves the dialogue closer, demanding awarness and appreciation for the contemporary African Canadian aesthetic.

Ingrid Mayrhofer, Programme Director, A Space Gallery

Hybridity and the Retensions of Diaspora within From the Streets: Visions for the MillennNew -  In a climate that continues to regard culture as a "luxury" that is easily expendable, or to scapegoat cultural practices generally  for the sake of Federal and Provincial deficit financing, it is inspiring to recognize a group of artists whose artistic visions have not been diminished by the overall Canadian indifference to cultural expression generally or to the minimal access to markets and financial sources .... These 11 African Canadian Artists are characterized by unique visions, and a commitment to their art practices, which has allowed them to creatively reassemble and produce statements that are contextualized by aesthetic formalism, the fusion of African, and or Indigenous and European traditions and the reclaiming of lost identities and histories.

Curator: Rosalie Smith McCrea

Artists: Rose-Ann Bailey, Neville Clark, Chrystal Clements, Leslie Coleman, Jeff Gibson, Daniel "Keniko' Ivic, Sherman Jones, Melinda Mollineaux, Nicole Pena, Amir Shingray and Shawn Skeir.

YYZ Gallery

(women's work)

Black Women In The Visual Arts

July 9 - July 26, 1997

This groundbreaking exhibition featuring the eclectic works of  Black Women in the Visual Arts was another contextual opportunity to give the viewing public a prism through which to better understand the vitality of these creative forces and why their works reconciles with contemporary art practices

Curator: Buseje Bailey 

Essay: Alice Jim

Artists: Lillian Allen,  Donna -Lee Bolden, Chrystal Clements, Marie-Denise Douyon, Tanya Hamilton, Paulette Hawkins, Donna James, Charmaine Lurch, and Melinda Mollineaux


Womens' Art Resource Centre - WARC


July 1997


Solo exhibition:  Joy Peterson, Sculptor

Programmer/Curator: Orla Garriques

York Quay Gallery, Harbourfront Centre


July 9 - 13

The mask has served as an anthropological window into the history and diversity of African cultures. Contemporary African Diaspora maskmakers continue to define culture and environment while creating a legacy for the future.


Selected works by:

Yvon Villarceaux (Ottawa) and Carlyle Matthew (Vancouver)

A Space Members Vitrine Gallery


June 14 - July 26, 1997


Form + Function + Aesthetics: A solo exhibition showcasing the work of designer and object artist Franklin Sinanan

and his use of everyday items (coffee table, chairs, benches) as canvas, transposing artwork onto their surfaces  and transforming them into "living art".

Programmer/Curator: Orla Garriques

Artist:  Franklin Sinanan

York Quay Gallery, Harbourfront Centre

July  11 - August, 24, 1997

A superb showcase collection of the works of contemporary designers of African heritage from across Canada, South Africa, West Indies:  Form and Function blend superbly in the creations from these "makers" of everyday objects, including basketry, drum making, pottery, household objects, jewellery, textiles,.. The exhibition also included exhibitions of the bold geometric mural designs of the Ndebele Tribe of South Africa. 


Curator:  Scott Marsden

Artists: Anthony Benoit (Montreal), Jan Crick (Halifax), Ishama (Vancouver), Lilison (Montreal), Tony Reid (Edmonton), Jean Damascene Rwiyamilira (Montreal), Phyllis Walker (Toronto), Yvon Villarceaux (Ottawa), Joelle Chanceller (Guadeloupe)



July 11 - 13, Sculpture Court at Harbourfront Centre

A multi-disciplinary art  exhibit  by children ages 8 - 12 from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. This exhibition is the result of a quest undertaken by these young artists and their group mentor/teacher to gain understanding and knowledge of each other through the sharing and examination of each other unique cultural celebration.

Programmer: Marva Ollivierre

Teacher/Mentor: Grecia Mayers

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