Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art

Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art
  • Closed
January 27, 2018 to April 22, 2018
  • Level 3, Third Floor Centre Block
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FREE for Members


What is the Black Canadian presence and history in our country? Explore these ideas, and the issues of belonging, in the ROM original exhibition, Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art, presented by TD Bank Group, through the contemporary works of nine Canadian artists. Challenge yourself to think differently about the deep-rooted histories and enduring presence of Black Canadians, gain a new and multifaceted understanding of Canada, through these unique and visually compelling installations.



Sandra Brewster

Brewster is a Canadian multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto. Her work has been exhibited nationally and abroad, engaging many themes that grapple with notions of identity, representation and memory. Sandra is a recent Masters of Visual Studies graduate from University of Toronto. Her thesis exhibition A Trace | Evidence of time past was exhibited at Art Museum: University of Toronto Art Centre. Her most recent solo exhibition It's all a blur, Georgia Scherman Projects, received the Gattuso Prize for outstanding featured exhibition in CONTACT Photography Festival 2017.

Michèle Pearson Clarke 

Michèle Pearson Clarke is a Trinidad-born artist who works in photography, film, video and installation. Using archival, performative and process-oriented strategies, her work explores the personal and political possibilities afforded by considering experiences of emotions related to longing and loss. Her work has been exhibited and screened across Canada, the United States, and Europe, including Ryerson Image Centre (Toronto), Studio XX (Montreal), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa), Ann Arbor Film Festival, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning (London, UK), International Film Festival Rotterdam and International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.

Chantal Gibson

Chantal Gibson is an artist-educator living in Vancouver with ancestral roots in Nova Scotia. Her work explores power, exploiting colonial mechanisms of oppression—myths, tropes, metaphors—persistent across writings and representations of African Canadian history and the Black Diasporic Experience. Her work aims to create new spaces — to use historic silences and omissions—to include alternative voices.  Chantal uses her artistic practice to promote discussion and critical inquiry in public forums, academic conferences and community facilitated workshops.

Sylvia D. Hamilton

Sylvia D. Hamilton is a Nova Scotian filmmaker, writer and artist raised in Beechville, a community established in Nova Scotia, by free Black Refugees from the War of 1812.  Her body of work—film, writing and installations— focuses on the history, contributions and life experiences of African Canadians. The work stands in opposition to the erasure of Black Canadians from traditional representations of Canada. She draws on archival sources and collective oral stories to create a counter-memory. Her installations have been shown at the Dalhousie Art Gallery (2013), the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (2014), The Thames Art Gallery in Chatham, Ontario (2015), and Dalhousie's Schulich School of Law in Halifax (2016).

Bushra Junaid

Junaid is a Toronto-based artist and arts administrator. Born in Montreal to Jamaican and Nigerian parents and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Junaid primarily works in mixed media collage, drawing and painting. She is interested in history, memory, identity and representation; in particular the arts, culture and histories of the African diaspora. Junaid has shown work in artist-run, community-based, not-profit and commercial gallery settings. She recently initiated and co-curated (with Pamela Edmonds), the multidisciplinary group show New-Found-Lands: An Art Project Exploring Historical and Contemporary Connections Between Newfoundland and the Caribbean Diaspora at Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John’s.

Charmaine Lurch

Charmaine Lurch connects race, time, and space in her work. She portrays the agency and boundless persistence of racially marked subjects to be and belong in spaces they inhabit. Engaging the audience through story, and with opportunities for participatory action is integral to this work. Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues including the Royal Ontario Museum, the art Gallery of Ontario, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, The University of British Columbia, and the National Gallery of Jamaica.

Esmaa Mohamoud

Mohamoud an African-Canadian artist based in Toronto who investigates the intangibility of Blackness through the realm of athletics—specifically, basketball and football. Mohamoud is interested in the ways in which Black bodies navigate spaces as bodies that are both visible, and invisible at times. With the use of industrial materials, Mohamoud aims to re-examine our contemporary understanding of Blackness and challenge the relationship of blackness as a colour and shade, and Blackness as a societal or cultural construction of a group of people. She has recently shown at the Art Gallery of Ontario, YYZ Artist Outlet, Manifesto Festival, the Gladstone Gallery and Drake Devonshire Gallery.

Dawit L. Petros

Dawit L. Petros is a visual artist who investigates boundaries in artistic, geographical and cultural contexts. Working with installations, photography, research and extensive travels, his practice centers around a critical rereading of the relationship between African histories and European modernism. By drawing upon forms rooted in diverse histories, Petros' artistic language enables a metaphorically rich articulation of the fluidity of contemporary transnational experiences and attendant issues of place-making, and cultural negotiation. His work has been exhibited in North America, Europe and Africa. Most recently he had solo exhibitions at the Kansas City Art Institute, Tiwani Contemporary and the Museum of Fine Arts and participated in the Dak’art Biennial, the Bamako Biennale and Prospect 4.

Gordon Shadrach

Shadrach was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario and has lived in Toronto for over 25 years. His parents immigrated to Canada from Trinidad and Dominica in 1965. He works in sculpture, fashion, visual display, marketing, industrial design, and painting. Gordon rediscovered his love for painting five years ago and has been exhibiting almost as soon as he started painting. He has participated numerous group exhibitions including the Artist Project Toronto, the Riverdale Art Walk, and the Queen West Art Crawl.  His most recent solo show was at Black Artist Network and Dialogue (BAND) in Toronto.


Julie Crooks
Curator, Art Gallery of Ontario

Julie Crooks is the Assistant Curator, Photography at the AGO. She received her PhD in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where her research focused on historical photography in Sierra Leone, West Africa and the diaspora. Prior to joining the AGO, Crooks curated and co-curated a number of exhibitions in Toronto, including No Justice, No Peace: From Ferguson to Toronto in February 2017, co-curated with Reese de Guzman (co-organized by the Ryerson Image Centre and BAND).

Dominique Fontaine
Independent Curator

Dominique Fontaine is a curator and Founding Director of aPOSteRIORI, a non-profit curatorial platform – researching, documenting, developing, producing and facilitating innovation in diverse contemporary art practices. Fontaine graduated in visual arts and arts administration from the University of Ottawa (Canada), and completed De Appel Curatorial Programme (Amsterdam, the Netherlands). Her curatorial projects include and- in. the light of this.______ Dineo Seshee Bopape, 2017, Darling Foundry; Repérages ou À la découverte de notre monde ou Sans titre, articule, Between the earth and the sky, the possibility of everything, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto 2014; Images, Imageries, Imaginaires” – International Photography Exhibition of the World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures, December 2010, Dakar (Senegal); “Forms and topographies: African Cityscape in flux”, 2009, Thessaloniki Biennale (Greece).

Silvia Forni
Curator, Royal Ontario Museum

Dr. Silvia Forni is Curator of African Arts and Cultures in the Royal Ontario Museum's Department of World Cultures. She is also Associate Professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto. Dr. Forni's research focuses on tensions, dynamics, and feedback that inspires contemporary creators in Africa and the diaspora and the way art challenges the stereotypical constructions of the Western imagination. At the ROM she has curated a number of exhibitions including Isaac Julien: Other Destinies (2017); Art. Honour and Ridicule: Asafo Flags From Southern Ghana (2016); and Worn: Shaping Black Feminine Identity (2014).

Since 2013, Crooks, Fontaine, and Forni are responsible for Of Africa, a multiplatform project at the ROM aimed to support a sustained and long-term promotion of the cultural and creative diversity of Africa and its diaspora through engagement with the Museum’s collections and in dialogue with artists and creators active today.

Upcoming Events

January 26
Join the artists from the new ROM original exhibition, as they discuss their works in the broader context of Canadian identity.
January 26
Celebrate the opening of the newest ROM original exhibition Here We Are Here.
February 8
Curators Silvia Forni and Julie Crooks along with artist Michèle Pearson Clarke deliver an in-depth look at the ROM's newest original exhibition, from conception to execution.
February 11
An interactive poetry performance from Canadian icon Afua Cooper.
March 4
Join artist Jessica Karuhanga for a captivating performance.


Hal Jackman Foundation


Gail & Bob Farquharson 
Robert E. Pierce & Family 
James & Louise Temerty 
Richard Wernham & Julia West 
Jeff Willner & Family 

Authored by: Kait Sykes

Authored by: Kait Sykes