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Slavery ads help put historical art in context, professor says – CBC.ca

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An art historian says her research into slavery has given her a better understanding of historical Canadian art as it pertains to Black people.

Charmaine Nelson, a professor of art history at NSCAD University in Halifax and founding director of the Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery, gave a lecture last month at the Confederation Centre of the Arts entitled Fugitive Slave Advertisements and/as Portraiture in late-18th- and early 19th-century Canada.

I said to myself, if you don’t understand slavery, you don’t understand how these images are working.— Charmaine Nelson

The topic came about through her interest in representations of Black women in historical Canadian art, she said in an interview with Mainstreet P.E.I. host Matt Rainnie. 

“I realized that I couldn’t do my analysis any justice, I couldn’t do the artwork any justice without understanding the context of transatlantic slavery, because so many of the people that had been represented were enslaved,” she said. 

“So I said to myself, if you don’t understand slavery, you don’t understand how these images are working. You don’t understand who they were and how they even came to be in a high art portrait or as a figure of study, you know, in a watercolour. You don’t understand that unless you understand slavery.”

An ad in the Nova Scotia Gazette and Weekly Chronicle from 1780 offers a reward for two runaway slaves. (Youtube)

Nelson said the ads are “tragic and fascinating at the same time.” They are written by slave owners trying to sell or recapture slaves who have run away.

“You have owners who are trying to hunt them, to recapture them through the mechanism of the press. Meaning what? They would literally run ads and papers, notices, describing the person, the enslaved person who has run away.”

Many of the descriptions not only give physical characteristics such as height or shade of skin colour, but also might give an indication of their talent and intelligence.

Nelson says Canada’s documented history of slavery should go beyond the Underground Railway. (Youtube)

For example, one ad from Quebec described a slave as a very good violin player. Another refers to a slave being able to speak different languages. 

“The Europeans really look at the intelligence and sophistication of the Africans that they’re enslaving,” Nelson said.

“So here’s the thing. We’re dealing with incredibly sophisticated, incredibly intelligent people who also know how to watch and observe the habits of the slave owners, which is how they’re able to escape them.”

An ad in the Quebec Gazette from 1787 describes an 18-year-old female slave as ‘stout, healthy and active.’ (Youtube)

Nelson said it’s important to document all the history, beyond just the Underground Railroad when Canada was seen as “the good guys.”

“It really is a practice of historical hypocrisy, if you will, because the archives are not bereft of this information. Why? Because enslaved people were considered property and people document their property.”

Nelson’s lecture and others can be seen at www.fieldtrip.art.

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Art and technology combine for new Minecraft residency at Mackenzie Art Gallery – Global News

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An immensely popular video game will be the vehicle for the creation of a new exhibit co-hosted by Regina’s Mackenzie Art Gallery.

The Mackenzie is partnering with Ender Gallery, an online exhibition space based on a Minecraft server, to exhibit artworks created within the creative, sandbox-style video game.

“So many arts and cultural events have had to find their online forms last year and this year. So I suppose this is an attempt to do that in a way that we haven’t really seen,” said Sarah Friend, artist and co-curator of Ender Gallery (“Ender” is the name of one of Minecraft’s digital realms).

“It’s fun, new and crosses different creative communities.”

Read more:
City of Kelowna replicates city in Minecraft virtual world

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Friend says the residency will be the first project hosted on Ender Gallery.


Via Zoom

Friend, who is also a software engineer and is based in Berlin, approached her friends Cat Bluemke and Jonathan Carroll with an idea to create a virtual art space last year.

Bluemke is the digital operations coordinator at the Mackenzie and Carroll is the digital programs coordinator, .

“In talking with them the idea got fleshed out and turned into its current form in partnership with the Mackenzie,” Friend explained.

The first of four planned two-month residencies is scheduled to begin in March.

Anyone with a Minecraft account will be able to log into Ender Gallery to view the art pieces. Friend said discussions are ongoing about finding a way to display the art somewhere within the Mackenzie itself, and added that the Ender Gallery team is planning to document the exhibitions via video as well.

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“Though Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time, its not something that everyone has access to,” Friend said. “So we want this to be available to the widest audience possible.”

Read more:
Welcome to Twitch U: Pandemic has some profs streaming lectures on gaming platform


The Mackenzie Art Gallery hired Digital Coordinators Cat Bluemke and Jonathan Carroll in 2019 to lead the creation of a Digital Lab and collaborative digital arts training initiative at the gallery.


File / Global News

Applications for the residencies are being accepted until end-of-day on January 31.

Applicants will need to select their preferred residency period, a written proposal and a portfolio, among other things, but don’t need to be experienced artists or have extensive experience with Minecraft to apply.

Each artist will be paid a $1,600 fee.

“Proposals are already coming in. Some of them look like buildings, filled with different creations, that someone on the server can see and walk through. Other proposals are creations that tell a story as you view them,” Friend said.

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“We even have proposals that would be something not built on the server, but installed on the server. Minecraft has a modding community where people create new game functionality within Minecraft, or new skins so that it looks like a different game.”

Friend said the residency follows a growing trend of projects highlighting the artistic potential of video games.

“I think we’ve only begun to see the amount of creative content that will come from that intersection.”

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Thames Art Gallery seeking community submissions for Black History Month art quilt – CTV News Windsor

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WINDSOR, ONT. —
The Thames Art Gallery is calling on members of Chatham-Kent to celebrate Black History Month by participating in a community art “quilt.”

“Celebrating Black Lives” is the theme of the digitally based installation.

For those who wish to participate, the gallery asks that you complete a work of art on the theme in any media, whether it’s a painting, drawing or writing.

Once complete, photograph your work and send it to ckartgallery@chatham-kent.ca

Gallery staff will print and assemble the works into a community art “quilt” which will be on public display in the ARTspace window for the month of February.

A donation will be made for each participating artist involved to support the distribution of the film “The North Star: Finding Black Mecca.”

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Pandemic paintings featured at the Center for the Arts – Toronto Star

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DECATUR, Ala. – As the coronavirus shuttered schools, churches and businesses and suspended life for many last spring, north Alabama painter Jane Philips turned to her art to address feelings of isolation, death, decay, rebirth, wonder and growth.

Four of the paintings Philips completed last year are currently on display at the Alabama Center for the Arts, which debuted two new exhibits last week.

Philips’ “Convalescence” in the main studio and the “Festival of the Cranes” in the walking gallery will remain on display at the downtown Decatur art centre through Feb. 19.

A multi-media artist, Philips named the show “Convalescence” due to the “hard-earned healing” she experienced last year.

“For many months following the start of the pandemic, I could not paint. I was very frustrated with myself because I seemingly had all this free time open up that I felt like I should be taking advantage of. But the truth of the matter is that this (past) year has been stressful and abnormal for everyone — no matter how hard you try not to think about it. For a while, I could only survive. I’m still working on the thriving part,” the Huntsville native said.

To cope with stress and start healing, Philips turned to nature and began hiking through the Tennessee Valley’s forests and parks.

“It’s a thing I can do alone to push myself physically and mentally. The woods became a place of peace and, oddly, connection with the world around me — just maybe not the human part of it,” Philips said. “Hiking helps me think through ideas and clear my head, and the beauty of nature around me inspires me to paint.”

That love for nature appears in Philips’ art, from “Jungle in Triplicate” — a bright and colorful three-panel jungle scene with butterflies, a frog and birds — to “Saying Hello to an Old Friend,” a painting of the artist’s hand on a tree trunk.

The other two new pieces created from oil paint, coffee, charcoal, gold leaf and house paint are “Feels Like Hope,” a portrait of a woman among a field of Queen Anne’s lace, and “Saint Anastia,” a painting of the same model.

“The model is a friend who works with NASA. She’s had some personal triumphs over the last few years, and I wanted to celebrate that and create something positive with them. I just couldn’t muster the energy to work on them until the very end of (last) year — when I could finally feel a little hope again,” Philips said.

Along with the new pieces, the exhibit features Philips’ older work, including “Hereditary/(Whisper),” which won best in show at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center’s “Embracing Art” exhibit in 2019.

Created from oil paint, gold leaf and coffee, the work shows Philips looking to the left, away from the viewer. Her chin rests on the palm of her hand and her bent fingers cover her mouth. On her right are sprigs of dried Queen Anne’s lace.

“I think at my core, I have a strong dedication to the stories and characters I share, and I’ve continued in that vein over the last two years,” said Philips, whose work, which reflects her struggle with anxiety and exploration of identity, recently appeared in the Wiregrass Museum of Art’s “Biennial” and the Huntsville Museum of Art’s “Red Clay Survey.”

To see Philips’ art, stop by the Alabama Center for the Arts Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m. to noon. Admission is free.

“I hope people can see that beauty can be found in many different moments, and not all of those moments are light or joyous or peaceful. There’s also beauty in the breakdown, in darkness, in isolation. Even if, sometimes, it feels almost impossible to find,” Philips said.

In the walking gallery, the “Festival of the Cranes” exhibit features 27 nature-themed pieces of art by 21 artists, Jennifer Bunnell, chief operating officer with Alabama Center of the Arts, said.

Held in conjunction with Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge’s Festival of the Cranes, which took place Saturday, the juried exhibit features art by students, alumni and faculty at Athens State University and Calhoun Community College.

The exhibit includes oil, acrylic, watercolour and digital paintings for whooping cranes, sandhill cranes, deer, forests and the Tennessee River.

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OTHER EXHIBITS

For more art adventures, stop by the Carnegie Visual Arts Center and the Huntsville Museum of Art. The Carnegie, on Church Street Northeast in Decatur, will unveil a new exhibit featuring photographs by Jose Betancourt on Tuesday. The exhibit, “Cuba: Memories Revisited” includes photographs from Betancourt’s return to Cuba after 48 years.

Exhibits currently on display at the Huntsville Museum of Art are “The World of Frida (Kahlo),” “Jonathan Becker: Social Work” photographs, and “Gloria Vanderbilt: An Artful Life.”

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