Caribbean art exhibition a Nova Scotian first

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Oil on Canvas by artist Justin Augustine.

A report from the Chronicle Herald.

As part of the 2017 Caribbean Diaspora Cultural Festival, at Halifax Commons Pavilion on Monday, the Black Artists Network of Nova Scotia (BANNS) will be presenting Kaiso, an exhibition of artwork by Caribbean-born Nova Scotian artists.

“This is a first of its kind exhibition in our province,” says curator David Woods. “This new exhibition shows the diversity of Caribbean culture in Nova Scotia and brings attention to the contributions that Caribbean-born peoples have made to the province in the visual arts.”

Woods (who was born in Trinidad) is an award-winning local artist, poet, playwright and performer. In 2006-07 he served a two-year term as an associate curator at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

“People from the Caribbean have settled in Nova Scotia for a very long time. The first record of settlement began with enslaved Africans from the French-speaking Caribbean islands (St. Martin, Guadeloupe, etc.) living in Fortress Louisburg in the early 17th century. The Jamaican Maroons settled in Halifax from 1796-1800 and among many things served as a patrol unit on Citadel Hill. Caribbean-born workers primarily from Barbados and Grenada were employed in the province’s coal industry and settled in Cape Breton communities of Whitney Pier; The Sterling, Glace Bay and New Waterford, and many noted Nova Scotians can trace their roots to the Caribbean, including former Lt.-Gov. Mayanne Francis; late historian senator Calvin Ruck; Cole Harbour MLA Tony Ince; and popular radio host and politician Wayne Adams.

“So the idea of Caribbean presence in Nova Scotia as being a recent phenomenon is really just a myth. In the Kaiso exhibition the public will have a rare opportunity to see how Caribbean-descended artists have interpreted being in this province and in Canada in general.”

The artists present a variety of viewpoints, from nostalgia and home longing and celebration of Caribbean culture, to representations of local African Nova Scotian community experiences, says Woods. “I believe audiences will be impressed at the variety and vision of the artwork being presented.”

Artists taking part in the exhibition include: Justin Augustine, David Woods (painting); Angel Gannon (woodcarving); Michelle Flemming (photography, mixed media installations); Laurel Francis (quilts); and Habiba El-Sayed and Kaas Ghanie (ceramic sculpture). A few selections from ‘non-Caribbean’ Black Artists Network members Julian Covey (ceramics), Heather Cromwell (quilts) and Alex Thuku (painter) complete the exhibition.

The exhibition was curated by Woods with assistance from Julian Covey and Michelle Flemming, both fourth-year Nova Scotia College of Art and Design students.

Kaiso will be available for free public viewing from noon-6 p.m. at the Festival Tent at the Common Pavilion

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