The York Eglinton neighbourhood of Oakwood isn’t letting the dust of construction dim it’s light. Instead, for its second annual Cityscapes Winter Exhibition, the local BIA has teamed up with the NIA Centre for the arts to re-invigorate many of the empty and abandoned storefronts with vivid art from a select group of Black artists. The theme is “New Perspectives of Home.”
“With many of us being descendants of immigrants, our sense of home is connected to Toronto but it’s also connected to whichever country we immigrated from. There is a connection to the neighbourhoods and city you grew up in but also a Caribbean identity,” says Alica Hall from NIA Centre, one of the people steering this years Eglinton Cityscapes’ Winter Exhibition.
The theme explores this tension, encouraging us to think deeply about the ways we occupy space in various locations we call ‘home’. Our perspective of what home is, does not have to be a solitary place, but rather a multiplicity of places.
The five featured artists are Solana Cain, Othello Grey, Addae Nurse, Farihah Shah, Kareen Weir. Their pieces reflect themes such as black hair politics, the intersection of language and neighborhood while using Jamaican patois and play on words. Some of the pieces also examine the expression of Black femininity and sexuality.
NIA Centre is a Black art organization focused on promoting, supporting and showcasing art from the African diaspora, providing a platform for emerging artists and emphasizing the importance of Black art and culture. It’s located in Eglinton West, Oakwood village neighbourhood, serving a community largely made up of the first wave of immigrants from the Caribbean. “The Black community has been a substantial part of the history in this area. There’s a lot of creative energy and history in this neighborhood,” says Alica Hall.
The York Eglinton BIA is in its 2nd year with the Eglinton Cityscapes Winter Exhibition, but this is the first time they have partnered with the NIA centre. The goal, says Nick Alampi is to “grow to where it becomes an attraction and an expectation” and encourages more entrepreneurs to open up shop in the Eglinton West area. The neighborhood is active with construction but it is still home to a community that outshines the chaos on the surface.
These artists, through their artwork, are shining a light on their experiences as well as giving passersby a few moments of beauty amidst a concrete transformation.
The Eglinton Cityscapes Winter Exhibition runs until March 26 2019.
Ever Imafidon is a second year student at University of Toronto, majoring in Political Science and minoring in African studies and Women and Gender studies. A proud immigrant from Nigeria, she has been living in Canada for 12 years now and is working towards becoming a lawyer. She currently works with Do the Knowledge, a program attached to Blackstone Foundation Library to promote literacy and Afrocentric reading for members of the Black community.