You Done Taken My Blues and Gone

Aaron Jones
Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 6:00pm to Sunday, March 11, 2018 - 6:00pm

Black Peoples and Cultures are being stripped of their agency, reduced to repossession or object through commodification. The title, You Done Taken My Blues and Gone, is a quote from Langston Hughes 1940’s poem ‘Note on Commercial Theater’ which speaks on the theft of Black cultures by white dominated markets. The poem, much like this show, remarks on the insidious ways in which Black art forms and material culture are co-opted and divorced from the distinct Black experience that produced them. The show will take place during Black history month; a time of the year in which our history/culture is routinely tokenized and exploited. The exhibition is not a reaction, rather it is a critique on Black History month. You Done Taken My Blues and Gone attempts to disrupt the performative rhetoric that repeats every February about ‘solidarity’ and ‘progress’ and redirect the conversation towards the institutions and groups that support and benefit from antiblackness.

Featuring Works by:

Sydne Barnes Wright 

Tim Hunter

Oreka James

Aaron Jones

Ekow Stone

Destiny Grimm

165 Augusta Avenue, Toronto

Exhibition runs: February 1 - March 11 2018
Reception: Thursday, February 1, 6 - 10 p.m.

Gallery hours: Wednesday-Sunday: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m


Venue & Address: 
165 Augusta Avenue
You Done Taken My Blues and Gone

Expanded Context: Black Canadian Curators at the 56th Venice Biennale

Expanded Context: Black Canadian Curators at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale 2015 was a forum which brought together black Canadian curators and critics at the 56th Venice Biennale in order to build transnational networks and promote black Canadian visual art. The forum sought to ameliorate the invisibility of the works of black Canadian artists, curators, and critics within the international sphere.

The goals of Expanded Context: Black Canadian Curators at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale 2015 were as follows:

  • To foster greater awareness, understanding and opportunities for partnerships and collaborations between culturally diverse curators and the visual arts establishment, negotiating progression pathways for the new generation of leaders in visual arts.
  • To promote Canadian black artists and develop an engaging dialogue between Canadian art and the international stage
  • To allow Black curators a space for critical reflection, research, dialogue, experimentation, and exchange
  • To provide access to ideas, artists, and artworks that can be developed for curatorial research
  • To develop partnerships for future exhibition opportunities

Expanded Context: Black Canadians Curators at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale 2015 was a unique professional development opportunity for Black Canadian curators and critics. It was a two-day gathering (held May 7th and May 8th, 2015) which addressed the politics and practice of curatorship in a globalized world.

The program of engagement included networking meetings and interviews with artists, curators, gallerists and collectors, as well as the opportunity to visit Biennale exhibitions and collateral events. The participation of Black curators and critics at the 56th Venice Biennale served to correct the visible absence of Black Canadian curators at key international arts events. The Expanded Context project provided an international platform for connecting Black Canadian curators, and created a global forum for these professionals to share projects and initiatives.

Participants included: Julie Crooks, Pamela Edmonds, Andrea Fatona, Sally Frater, Dominique Fontaine, Gaetane Verna, Camille Turner, Rinaldo Walcott.

Participants were selected from the group of curators and academics who attended the State of Blackness : From Production to Presentation conference. Keynote speakers included curators Bisi Silva and David Bailey

This project has been the subject of an article, “Questioning Citizenship at the Venice Biennale: Responses and Interventions” in C Magazine, Issue 128, and a podcast, "New Point of View at the Venice Art Biennale" by Fresh Arts International, Fresh Talk Series.

Other Resources:
The State of Blackness Website
 The State of Blackness on Youtube

  • We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.
  • Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.


The State of Blackness Logo - text and a gradient in stacked rectangles from black to gray
Canada Council for the Arts logo
Ontario Arts Council Logo
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 10:45am
Lab Member: 
Andrea Fatona

State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference

The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference brought together artists, critics, and curators to develop art education practices as a way of rectifying the invisibility of Blackness in Canadian art curriculum.  It engaged participants in dialogue about the history, current state, and future of black diasporic artistic practice and presentation in Canada.

The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference focused on developing networks of engagement and knowledge exchange while developing methodologies and practices that inform the future of black Canadian artistic production and teaching.  The conference addressed:

  1. The role of post-secondary art education in perpetuating the invisibility of Blackness
  2. Broadening conversations and scholarship on the state of pedagogy in relation to blackness in Canada
  3. Making and strengthening connections across disciplinary fields including fine art, design, and curatorial practice
  4. Developing working education strategies that serve as resources for multicultural educators, curators, and researchers


The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation was a two-day interdisciplinary conference held at OCAD University and the Harbourfont Centre of the Arts in February 2014. It brought together 42 artists, curators, academics, students, and multiple publics to engage in dialogue about the history, current state, and future of black diasporic artistic practice and presentation in Canada. The conference included closed working sessions and public events.

Since the demise of Canada’s national black arts service organization, CAN: BAIA, in the late ‘90s, there has been little public effort to engage the multiplicity of communities and discourses that define blackness and its expressive manifestations in the Canadian context.  The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation conference was therefore a much-needed forum, as it placed issues of race and cultural difference at the center of a discussion with regards to the marginalization and simultaneous excess of Blackness in the realm of popular culture.

The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation conference created an interdisciplinary approach to teaching practices and curriculum content development in both universities and galleries. It allowed scholars and curators to network and share pedagogical strategies for disseminating the works of black artists. Documentation of the conference via podcast (include link here) archives the activities of the conference and provides research data for academics.

This project served to enhance the visibility of black cultural production in the context of multicultural Canada, and broadened critical knowledge about art practices and products. While attending The State of Blackness conference, several delegates successfully proposed to further the discussion by holding another forum of Black curators during the professional preview of the 56th Venice Biennale. The conference was also the inspiration for the State of Blackness Database project.

Other Resources:
The State of Blackness Website
 The State of Blackness on Youtube
The State of Blackness Database project
Expanded Context: Black Canadian Curators at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale 2015

Conference participants included: Karen Miranda Augustine, Deanna Bowen, Sandra Brewster, Charles Campbell, Mark V. Campbell, Wayde Compton, Julie Crooks, Erika DeFreitas, Pamela Edmonds, Dominique Fontaine, Honor Ford-Smith, Richard Fung, Sylvia Hamilton, Jérôme Havre, Ebony L. Haynes, Johanna Householder, Camille A. Isaacs, Michelle Jacques, Alice Ming Wai Jim, Betty Julian, Olivia McGilchrist, Anna Jane McIntyre, Megan Morgan, Charmaine Nelson, Abdi Osman, Michèle Pearson Clarke, AboubakarSanogo, Adrienne Shadd, Dionne Simpson, Rema Tavares, Camille Turner, Gaëtane Verna, Rinaldo Walcott, Genevieve Wallen, Syrus Marcus Ware, and Natalie Wood.

Photograph of conference participants by Ella Cooper.

The State of Blackness Logo - text and a gradient in stacked rectangles from black to gray
Group photograph of participants at The State of Blackness Conference
Ontario Arts Council logo
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 10:00am
Lab Member: 
Andrea Fatona


Soho Lobby Gallery
Nadia Galati. Photo by Frances Beatty.
Mistee Clarke's work on view at the SOHO LOBBY GALLERY. Photo by Carolyn Douse.

The first group exhibition at the SOHO LOBBY GALLERY, a new community creative hub, is OCAD University’s own Onyx Society, a student-run organization providing community and support for African and Afro-diasporic students. T-Dot Pioneers 3.0: The Future Must Be Replenished radically envisions how the historical archive might reside within the very aesthetic innovations that make hip hop culture always fresh.

Nadia Galati. Photo by Frances Beatty.
Nadia Galati, SOHO LOBBY GALLERY’s Director of Exhibitions (and an OCAD U alum) describes the gallery’s community arts focus and how it emerged from her work: 

Community hubs are often spaces in which arts and cultural activity materialize. They are places in which artists, creative thinkers and cultural workers are in trust. They are places in which curiosity cultivates; individuals come together; world views are confronted or affirmed; innovation and preservation is cherished; creativity and imagination are fuelled; critical thinking, and humanity develops; and society is inspired to be inclusive. These places can also help build a community’s identity and promote stewardship among populaces and stakeholders.

My work at OCAD U has taken me throughout Ontario and these experiences have illustrated the vast discrepancies in community access to the arts, raising important questions. Do all communities have equal access to art? Do all communities, based on their circumstantial experiences – historical discrimination, financial problems, personal challenges or other circumstances beyond their control – have the ability to access art and design? Do all communities feel embraced by the art community? Do all communities experience art communities as inclusive? Through my experiences I have spent time thinking about these questions and the presence of underrepresented groups in the arts overall.

Since graduating from OCAD U in 2010, I have maintained a community arts practice focused on increasing the access marginalized groups have to art, design and creative pursuit. Through community agencies such as Pathways to Education, the Pape Adolescent Resource Centre (PARC), Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and many others, I conduct mixed media workshops. These workshops offer youth an opportunity to explore their own creativity and the arts for their personal growth, social development and community involvement. Many of the workshops are co-created and facilitated by youth leaders.

I believe that communities should have the power to make their own decisions. My aim is to facilitate an environment where communities can create their own solutions on their own terms. My practice is about collaboration with youth and creative peers. Developing creative experiences that provide marginalized artists with a positive, safe space – to discover new artmaking possibilities, build confidence and try new materials – ultimately inspires youth to become more engaged and imaginative community members.

In the fall of 2012, I was approached by the SoHo Metropolitan Condominiums to reactivate their storefront gallery space. The SoHo heard about my community arts practice and was interested in inviting the creative minds I work with into their space with me as the Director of Exhibitions. Exhibiting and showcasing the boundless, young, creative thinkers I work with is a positive step towards an inclusive, Toronto art community. Toronto can only be a creative hub when everyone has space and place to develop their imaginations and live a life with art.

In support of carving out space for marginalized artists and aspiring to a new and different level of greatness, I was able to negotiate a zero percent commission for the SoHo Metropolitan Condominiums. Artists who exhibit work at the SOHO LOBBY GALLERY incur no costs. Any profits made through sale of work remain 100 percent with the artist(s).
Mistee Clarke's work on view at the SOHO LOBBY GALLERY. Photo by Carolyn Douse.
I’m thrilled to showcase OCAD U’s Onyx Society, and T-Dot Pioneers 3.0 as our inaugural exhibition. Moving away from just documenting the historical through archival material, the Onyx Society, in partnership with Nia Centre for the Arts and Northside Hip Hop, explored the following questions: where does hip hop’s future lie? How does hip hop archive its history? And what role does the visual artist play in replenishing (not preserving) hip hop’s aesthetic freshness? Thinking through these questions helped the Onyx Society arrive at the notion of replenishment, which is the idea that hip hop culture continues to rejuvenate its creativity through the critical and aesthetic engagement of youth.

T-Dot Pioneers 3.0: The Future Must Be Replenished opens Thursday March 7th from 7 to 9 p.m.

Contributed by Nadia Galati, SOHO LOBBY GALLERY’s Director of Exhibitions.

36 Blue Jays Way
Toronto, Ontario
M5V 3T3
Daily hours 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible

Need more info? Contact:
Nadia Galati, Director of Exhibitions


"(Whitey) Fern Gulley" by Olivia McGilchrist. Image courtesy State of Blackness Conference.
Work by Abdi Osman. Image courtesy State of Blackness Conference.

OCAD U’s Faculty of Art is host to The State of Blackness, an interdisciplinary event bringing together artists, curators, academics, students and the public to discuss diasporic artistic practice, representation and arts education in Canada. The conference, which takes place Saturday, February 22, combines accessible panels open to everyone with a series of closed working sessions specifically for delegates from across Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean.

“As a curator, I’m concerned that the visibility of black artists has fallen off,” said conference lead, Andrea Fatona, an instructor in the Criticism & Curatorial Practice program. “The idea of hosting a conference came to me when I was doing my dissertation looking at arts funding, particularly black arts funding in Canada, and I feel it’s important to examine both what’s going on and how we produce knowledge about art.”

Fatona designed the conference program as a means to gather a network together and also create a space for ongoing discussion. She hopes the event will help identify pedagogical innovations and best practices that broaden our understanding of cultural capital in the knowledge economy. 

“We haven’t had a conference like this in a very long time,” said Fatona, who cited cultural theorist Stuart Hall and his recent passing as an inspiration for the conference. Hall was instrumental in thinking through multiculturalism and issues of representation both in galleries and education, and what practices might look like. His work in developing practices around positioning equity and diversity may act as a model for some of the thinking at the conference. “We want to develop practical pedagogical tools not only at OCAD U but also across the country,” said Fatona.

The conference was developed in partnership with The Ontario Arts Council and with support by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Learn more:

Attend the conference

Conference website

Read the New York Times profile of Stuart Hall