Ojo Agi, No is a Complete Sentence No.2, 2021.

Ojo Agi, No is a Complete Sentence No.2, 2021.

The Campbell River Art Gallery opens a new exhibition: The Chorus is Speaking

Eight artists reflect on their experiences of Blackness, embodied (his)tories and Black joy

The Campbell River Art Galley’s latest exhibition The Chorus is Speaking is a group exhibition of eight Black Canadian artists of incredible inventiveness and insight who address the multilayered nature of the Black experience on Turtle Island.

Upon entering The Chorus is Speaking, visitors will be greeted with a myriad colours

“The decision for bright colors comes from our desire to communicate a kaleidoscopic experience of blackness,” says Curator of Contemporary Art Jenelle Pasiechnik. “It reflects a diverse experience, and a sliver of a 500-year history.”

The Chorus is Speaking runs from June 11 – Aug 20, with an opening reception on June 11 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the gallery.

The artists – Ojo Agi, Christina Battle, Charles Campbell, Chantal Gibson, Dana Inkster, Karin Jones, Jan Wade and Syrus Marcus Ware – were brought together in an exploration of facets of Black life in Canada through sculpture, drawing and painting, installation, film, and poetry. Their work speaks to activist positions, seeking a balance between carrying the weight of difficult histories and finding joy, the beauty of Blackness, cultivating boundaries through a resistance to the gaze, thinking through the creative process with curiosity, love of experimentation, and the pursuit of knowledge.

“Chorus” refers to an archetype of ancient Greek theater, Pasiechnik explains, “The chorus is traditionally a source of wisdom and knowledge, who work to communicate larger moral sentiments to the audience.”

CRAG’s own chorus takes from this and adds onto it: “Our chorus: the artists speak not only a unison, but each voice is heard clearly and individually, the power of the collective and the power of individual are both important and this exhibition holds the two in balance.”

There are a variety of events planned for the exhibition, including a performance from Charles Campbell and Michelle Jacques, Sunday Screening of films directed by Black Canadians, and a poetry reading and talk by Chantal Gibson. Visit crartgallery.com for more information.

See The Chorus is Speaking at the Campbell River Art Gallery Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from June 11th – August 20, 2022.

Background

Ojo Agi is an award-winning Nigerian-Canadian artist and researcher based in Montreal, QC. Her work uses brown paper and portraitures to make visible an experience that is increasingly common yet largely underrepresented.

Christina Battle is an artist based in Edmonton, Alberta. Her practice focuses on thinking deeply about the concept of disaster: its complexity, and the intricacies that are entwined within it.

Charles Campbell is an internationally acclaimed multidisciplinary artist, writer, curator and educator. Born in Jamaica, is based in Victoria, BC. His artworks, which include sculptures, paintings, sonic installations and performances, explore aspects of Black history, especially as experienced in the Caribbean region.

Dana Inkster is an artist of African descent and was born and raised in Ottawa, currently located in Lethbridge, AB. Dana’s work often experiments with narrative while exploring the complexities of identify, which stem in part, from her experiences as a black, queer, feminist.

Chantal Gibson is an award-winning writer-artist-educator living on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish Peoples, Vancouver, BC. Working in the overlap between literary and visual art, her work confronts colonialism head on, imagining the BIPOC voices silenced in the spaces and omissions left by cultural and institutional erasure.

Karin Jones is an interdisciplinary artist with a background in jewelry, who lives and works in Vancouver, BC. Her most recent work deals with the ways historical narratives shape our sense of identity.

Jan Wade is a Hamilton-born, Vancouver-based artist whose practice includes mixed-media assemblages, paintings, textiles, text works, and icon-like sculptural objects. Wade has developed a highly distinctive style and iconography, shaped by her personal experience as an African Canadian of mixed cultural heritage and her commitment to ideas of social and spiritual transformation.

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier Scholar, visual artist, activist, curator, and educator. He lives and works in Toronto, Ont. Syrus’ works with and explores social justice frameworks and Black activist culture.

Related Events

Opening Reception: The Chorus si Speaking – Saturday, June 11th, 5-7 pm, @Main Gallery

Workshop: Swing Dance with Josh Colman + Live Music – July 23, 1-5 p.m. @Spirit Square Artist Talk: The Art of with/holding with Chantel Gibson -Saturday, July 9, 4 p.m. @Main Gallery

Sunday Screening: The Art of Autobiography + Q&A with Dana Inkster – July 24, 6 p.m. Online/virtual

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