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Africville: A Spirit that Lives On – A Reflection Project

August 17, 2019 - November 10, 2019

Year 2019 Theme Community, Nova Scotian Artists, Race

Opening Reception

Saturday, August 17 at 2:00pm

Please join MSVU Art Gallery, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, the Africville Genealogy Society, and the Africville Museum for a relaxed reception with refreshments. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided.

Poetry & Performance

Saturday, September 14 at 2:30pm

Please join us for an afternoon of musical performances, poetry, and storytelling by artists in Africville: A Spirit that Lives On—A Reflection Project, including George Borden, Linda Carvery, Martha Mutale and Gloria Wesley. Refreshments will be served.  American Sign Language interpretation provided.

George Elliott Clarke

Saturday, September 28 at 2:00pm

Please join MSVU Art Gallery and Africville: A Spirit that Lives On – A Reflection Project co-organizers for a presentation of music, readings, and reflection on Africville by poet, playwright and literary critic George Elliott Clarke.

Born in Windsor, NS in 1960 and raised in Halifax, NS, George Elliott Clarke’s work chronicles the experiences of black Canadian communities, especially those of Nova Scotia. Clarke has served as the City of Toronto’s Poet Laureate from 2012-2015 and the Parliamentary Poet Laureate from 2016-2017. He has received numerous awards and honors for his work including the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry (2001), the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award (2004), the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Fellowship Prize (2005), Appointment to the Order of Canada at the rank of Officer (2008), and 8 honorary doctorates. Clarke now lives in Toronto, Ontario and holds the position of the E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto.

American Sign Language interpretation is available for all public programs – please contact art.gallery@msvu.ca to request.

How We Build: On Craft and Blackness

Friday, October 18 at 7:00pm

Presented by MSVU Art Gallery, Visual Arts News and Nocturne: Art at Night
Panel Discussion with Sobaz Benjamin, NAT chantel, Letitia Fraser and Juanita Peters, moderated by Francesca Ekwuyasi
Event Location: Art Bar + Projects

Based on curator Pamela Edmond’s statement “I am no longer interested in a seat at the table. I now want to build my own table,” this panel discussion will focus on the concept of Black artists creating work for a Black audience. Illuminating ideas about sharing intergenerational knowledge and craft as a means of fostering solidarity and resistance within and between various Black communities in Nova Scotia, this panel will explore locating pleasure, joy, and celebration as tools for survival while navigating structural oppression.

Refreshments will be served and all are welcome. American Sign Language interpretation is available upon request – please contact publisher@visualartsnews.ca in advance to book an interpreter.

Film Screenings

Sunday, October 20 at 2:00pm

Please join StART Festival organizers and MSVU Art Gallery for a screening of select films from the exhibition and poetry readings. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome.
Events details can be found here.


To Remain Here

Saturday, November 2 – Call for Participants

Presented in conjunction with Africville: A Spirit That Lives On – A Reflection Project, NAT chantel’s vocal sound performance To Remain Here examines what is housed in the body after populations claim land and displace people from their home. Interdisciplinary artist NAT chantel will offer space for vocalization of sounds with and without words to release experiences of the past, specifically human rights violations toward the Africville community. Sound reveals itself in present-time in response to surrounding energy, and the movement (and presence) of people. Such sound is known naturally and without force; it is a knowing of sound before words that comes through the body, without any attachment to pre-existing language, yet dwells in the memory of what is from long ago.

Calling sound forth, unrehearsed and felt in real-time, has no pre-determined duration of time. There will be an agreed upon motion or expression (such as a wink, or gestural sign of trust) that invites the winding-down and coming safely to stillness and quiet. Post-performance, the artist and collaborating people will gather to share personal experiences of the performance.

To Remain Here becomes a collective action that invites participants to meet each other, release stories, and make visible, without explanation, the on-going repercussions of displacement and the attempted erasure of the spirit of Africville and People of Color. Sharing these truths can release known and unknown trauma that is both experienced personally and inherited. To Remain Here is about resiliency, the power to persist and be here, be of voice, and be heard.

The artist welcomes collaboration with fellow descendants and residents of Africville as well as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour with whom the history and experience of Africville resonates. Respecting the intention of the performance, this will be a closed gathering on Saturday, November 2 and the event time will be disclosed to participants only. If you would like to participate, please send an email to claire.dykhuis@msvu.ca by October 31, indicating your interest. American Sign Language Interpretation is available by request.

Artist Bio  NAT chantel is a primarily self-taught artist who engages subtle movement and repetitive processes to revisit memory and personal history as way to reclaim the body and voice. Language, lineal disruption and displacement from land and home claim permanence in her art. NAT has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature; her poem Beauty was published in the first print-edition of Understorey Magazine: African Women Writers (2018).  She has voiced in Annie Wong’s A Choir on Desires and Demand on Repeat (2019), performed with Black Rabbit (2019), and released sound through a nature-based installation during her White Rabbit Residency (2019). She has participated in Canadian Art Festivals Ignite the Night and Afterglow and was chosen as a beacon artist for the first Indigenous curated Nocturne festival (2018). She was selected into the 2017-2018 VANS Mentorship Program, the Summer Professional Development Residency with NSCCD (2018) and the Centre For Art Tapes Media Scholarship Program (2018-2019.) She is a Nova Scotia Talent Trust scholarship recipient (2017 & 2018) and a member of Visual Arts Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Basketry Guild and Black Artists Network of Nova Scotia. NAT is a Certified Yoga Instructor focusing on energy systems, sound healing and meditation.