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    Byron Armstrong

    Byron Armstrong

    “Having a Black arts centre is about being able to have this place where all of us, from our respective places in the diaspora and identities we bring with that, can have this space where we connect, have a sense of belonging, and share that unique experience for cultural exchange through the arts.” -Alica Hall (Executive Director - Nia Centre for the Arts)

    Nehassaiu deGannes expresses her artistic practice through the worlds of both theatre and poetry. A natural-born storyteller, she follows in the tradition of African griots who used ancestral memory, physical movement, vocal presence, and the power of language, to engage with their communities. Covid-19’s far-reaching impact has included a gutting of the global arts community, and its impact on the theatre world has been no less demoralizing.

    “Over 2 million of the 12 million associated with the transatlantic slave trade died en route. In effect, what you’re looking at is a crime scene.” Kramer Wimberley

    “Art is the physical representation of feeling.” Jaylah Hall Possessing wisdom beyond her years, wunderkind Jaylah Hall knew from the age of 12 who she was, and what she wanted to be. Preadolescence isn’t usually a time when most people can boast enough of self-awareness to know that their uniqueness isn’t a handicap; especially when you’re Black.

    (Photo by: Marie-Anne Letarte) In Canada, we pay a lot of lip service to our brand of multicultural mosaic, usually without an understanding that the mosaic extends beyond just language or skin colour. It’s the “culture” within that “cultural mosaic” that causes the most trouble between different camps in society, (particularly when a certain camp considers themselves the native culture to which all others must assimilate). Manuel Mathieu asks the viewer to consider that our worlds are interconnected in ways that they may have never considered.

    Bio Photo: Courtesy Sarah Martin Nathan Eugene Carson is a multifaceted, multidisciplinary artist, whose trajectory has been less dictated by the hierarchical confines of what an artist is supposed to do, and more guided by an intuitive understanding of what an artist is supposed to be. Carson brings the same freedom of thought and expression encouraged by his creative familial upbringing into his first major solo exhibition at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.

    Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, cannabis has been considered an essential service that continues to pull in money at a time when many businesses are just trying to stay afloat. As an industry, it was lucrative before it was even legal; an alternate marketplace for poor and working-class entrepreneurs. Thanks to the heavy-handed reaction of racially biased law enforcement, a disproportionate amount of those underground businesses swept up in police raids and street checks were Black and Indigenous.

    “The subject matter of my work is, and will always be Black, because that’s my experience and perspective. However, the theme of my work is humanity. I try to tell the story of the beauty and humanity in the Black body; something the visual culture of our society has long tried to distort or deny. BLOOM showcases the resiliency, power, and beauty of several amazingly talented black women excelling in their fields.”  -Benny Bing

    Picture this. Over the course of several weeks, social media feeds are saturated with images and news of the murders and victimization of Black people. You bristle at the word of them being gunned down in their homes (Breonna Taylor). You watch videos of them being shot in the streets while running, literally, for their lives (Ahmaud Arbery). Closer to home, you read the trial of two off duty police officers who maimed a Black teenager (Dafonte Miller), with a lead pipe will begin, only to be tried in relative silence (the verdict now suspended due to Covid-19 closures).

    Toronto-based filmmaker, Adrian Wallace, an award-winning director, screenwriter, and actor, has produced a documentary titled “Black Sun” that tells the story of two women anguished by acts of gun violence, and how they used their experiences to take a personal stand to help their affected communities. In addition to this film, Adrian is also developing his second documentary. It’s the second season of his YouTube series “Courtside”, which was his debut feature, as well as an upcoming TV show. I caught up with the busy thespian in Black History Month.

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