Nia Centre for the Arts’ exhibit presses issues of diversity and racism
Political figures, community advocates and media producers all gathered inside Toronto’s 918 Bathurst Cultural Centre for the closing reception of the Nia Centre for the Arts’ Exposed 2014: Deciding Centre gallery exhibition. The visual showcase featured photography, drawings, textiles and paint-based work reflective of African-Canadian narratives created by nine young artists.
“We like the fact that there were so many different types of techniques that were being put forward, because it shows that there is a variation and diversity with the work that all of the artists do,” says Sandra Brewster, curator of the exhibit.
The pieces of art were displayed in a large, white room with mahogany wooden floors. People milled around the room, looking at the work, while snacking on fruits and finger food. Light soul music played in the background as the audience read about and discussed the displayed art.
Artist Nadijah Robinson’s painting, “How to Go Home (a lie)”, portrayed how the concept of home remains intangible. With her father being from Barbados and her mother being from India, Robinson grew up without a sense of belonging to either culture.
“There’s patois that I don’t know, there’s a lot of cultural things that I don’t have access to as someone who didn’t grow up there,” says Robinson.
The gallery was also celebrating the United Nation’s International Day of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In relation to the special day, special guest Hon. Jean Augustine, Ontario’s Fairness Commissioner, talked about the apartheid in South Africa. Her message was to remember history so that society won’t forget it by using art.
Later on during the night, Mark Campbell, the Executive Director of the Nia Centre for the Arts, revealed plans of building a tangible building for the organization. The space will provide a place for Afro-Canadian artists, young people and community members to learn different artistic disciplines through courses offered.
“It’s urgent now. Our schools are not doing a great job with our kids and we need other forms of growth nurturing the community… in order to raise our kids. I would’ve never survived if it wasn’t for the arts,” says Campbell.
Trey Anthony, an award winning playwright, and comedian from Toronto, who now lives in Atlanta, came out to support the gallery.
“For me it’s about giving back and being at a point in your career where you feel that you learnt a lot and it’s now time to come and pass it down to the next generation,” says Anthony.
Words By. Moreblessing Munangwa + Photos By. Iris Gill