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Byron Armstrong

Byron Armstrong

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.

Dawit L Petros has a unique perspective to offer on migration, colonization, and how all that intertwined history impacts us today. His current work, “Spazio Disponibile” (Available Space), reflects on Italy’s African colonies and Italian migration to North America in the period between the two World Wars, during which around 40,000 Italians came to Canada alone.

Romaine Waite is an actor to watch; no pun intended. His supporting role on popular CBC television drama Frankie Drake Mysteries is just another in a long list of achievements on his way to inevitable stardom. As “Bill Peters” his character is often called upon by “Frankie Drake,” a fictional depiction of the first female private detective in 1920’s Toronto. Frankie Drake solves crimes with her partner “Trudy” (Chantel Riley); Trudy also being Bill Peter’s love interest. The show is a hit and is coming back this year for a third season. No small feat for a diverse, Canadian, female-led drama. Of course, like our upcoming Black History month, Romaine’s story starts much earlier, and is much more complex than just this.

“Things are too easily captured and discarded, which I think takes something away from the community building aspect I experienced growing up.  We attended Caribbean picnics, listened to Calypso, and took trips together...so there was a sense of family and community. When I look at these photographs, they remind me of that era.” -Aaron Francis

I think I have potential. I say this knowing exactly how much of an arrogant so and so it makes me sound. As a full-time freelance writer, my work has popped up in publications of all sizes and influence, in which I’ve expressed political opinions from a critical perspective, along with a rare smattering of nuanced art and book reviews.

Gordon Shadrach is a portrait artist, Grade 2 teacher, and public speaker. His work has shown at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to name a few. As a self-taught painter, it’s even more impressive that he’s been selected by OCAD University as a lecturer at its How We Paint series. Prior to that engagement, ByBlacks spoke to the artist about the themes he explores through his art, the challenges of breaking through institutional barriers as an emerging artist at age 53, and what he most hopes to impart in his upcoming talk at the university.

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