ZigZag Gallery, opening September 8, 2022
An exhibition in celebration of Honor Ford-Smith on her retirement, featuring visual art by her former students Anique Jordan, Charmaine Lurch, Mosa McNeilly, Nastassia Pratt, Shuxia Tai and Camille Turner.
Retiring EUC Professor Dr. Honor Ford-Smith has worked at the crossroads of performance, politics and Caribbean culture for decades. A director, poet, and professor living in Toronto, Canada and Kingston, Jamaica, Ford-Smith herself was formed by intersecting struggles for radical social change in Jamaica in the 1970s, mentored by a generation of Caribbean anti-colonial poets, directors and writers like George Lamming, Caroll Dawes, Kamau Brathwaite and Dennis Scott, she first came to voice as an actor and theatre director committed to a form of collaborative theatre that combined oral testimony, social history and ritual forms in search of social justice. Honor’s recent projects have modelled a form of “engaged artistic interdisciplinarity” as she embraces the challenge of listening, engaging and producing across hierarchies of difference.
As the founding artistic director of the Sistren Theatre Collective, one of the earliest feminist collectives of Black and Caribbean women of the Americas, she collaborated with the women of Sistren to research Caribbean women’s lives and to perform the enduring gendered and racial legacies of plantation. Under her artistic direction, Sistren produced award winning plays such as Bellywoman Bangarang, QPH, Domesticks and Bandoolu Version which were performed in locations as varied as the Public Theatre in New York City, London’s West End and in back yards, community centres and streets across the Caribbean. With Sistren, Honor compiled and edited a ground-breaking collection of life histories Lionheart Gal, Lifestories of Jamaican women, produced two films and started a journal. Sistren deeply influenced a generation of theatre practitioners and feminists has been the subject of numerous scholarly studies.
Since moving to Canada, Ford-Smith turned to the study of performance as a site of anticolonial knowledge-making, publishing on the pedagogy and politics of Marcus Garvey’s UNIA, Louise Bennett, d’bi young, the poet MIkey Smith, and the plays of Dennis Scott, Stafford Ashani and others. She also wrote my mother’s last dance, a collection of poems and edited 3 Jamaican plays, an anthology of plays and more. She joined the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University in 2006 to work in Environmental Arts and Justice.
According to the Canadian Association of Theatre Researchers who recently honoured her, Honor has made fundamental contributions to Canadian and Jamaican theatre, connecting the theory and praxis of decolonization through performance, an urgency that we only now begin to realize. Recently, she has focused on memory and violence, extending the role of performance into the sphere of social justice, amplifying the voices of Black and racialized communities that are the targets of structural violence and social inequality. As one writer put it: “These works transform through time taking on new urgency and resonances as they travel to various locations. Her work makes visible the connections between global capitalism and the lives of vulnerable people who live in its crosshairs. Honor transforms performance into a space of inclusion, a space to grieve and heal and to bring communities from various social locations together to collectively reckon with and feel our way through what is needed for repair”. She brings the same qualities to her teaching and pedagogy.
She has held fellowships at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center and has been a Copeland Fellow at Amherst College. Awards include: Musgrave Medal for contribution to Jamaican culture, Otto Rene Castillo Award for political theatre to Sistren Theatre Collective, Best film/video documentary production for Honor Bound dir: Jay Prychidny, colour 24 mins, Toronto:Canada Leda Serene. XXIII Black International.
Among her many contributions to the Faculty of Environmental Studies/Faculty for Environmental and Urban Change, Dr. Ford-Smith has been a driving force of the arts in Environmental Studies, and has mentored numerous students who have flourished as professional artists internationally.
List of Works
Mama Told Me (2022)
Unframed limited edition print/ AP (artist proof)
24” x 32”
A Sudanese Proverb. “We desire to bequest two things to our children- the first one is roots, the other one is wings.”
Charmaine Lurch is a conceptual artist whose work draws attention to human-environmental relationalities. Lurch’s paintings and sculptures are conversations on infrastructures and the spaces and places we inhabit. Working with a range of materials and reimagining our surroundings—from bees and taxi cabs to The Tempest and quiet moments of joy, Lurch subtly connects Black life and movement globally.
Lurch has exhibited beyond and throughout Canada, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, the Massillon Museum in Ohio, the National Gallery of Jamaica and a virtual exhibition at WEAD/Platform 3 in Tehran Iran. Her installations have been included in Nuit Blanche Toronto and the University of British Columbia’s Liu Institute. Lurch’s works have been acquired by several institutions and private collectors including Global Affairs Canada, who has shown her work in EXPO 2021 held in Dubai and Canadian embassies and consulates globally.
Anique J. Jordan
17” x 21”
This image is part of a series of 30 portraits of my mother shot in locations that are central to my childhood. It is a series done as a response to a set of self portraits, Salt, which was shot in Trinidad in locations central to survival stories shared by the women in my family.
Jordan is an artist, writer and curator who looks to answer the question of possibility in everything she creates. She works in photography, sculpture and performance often employing the theory of hauntology to challenge historical or dominant narratives and creating “impossible images.” Jordan has lectured on her artistic and community engaged curatorial practice at Harvard University and in numerous institutions across the Americas. In 2017 she co-curated the exhibition “Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood” at the Art Gallery of Ontario. As an artist, she has exhibited in galleries such as Art Gallery of Ontario, AGYU, Art Gallery of Guelph, Doris McCarthy Gallery and Y+ Contemporary. In 2017 was awarded the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist of the Year award and was the 2018-19 Artist-in-Residence at Osgoode Hall Law School and the most recent recipient of the Hnatyshyn Emerging Artist award.
12” x 18”
Awakening presents a conversation between two Afronauts that takes place in the future on a spaceship. The story is seen through the eyes of central character, Gloria Smith, an inadvertent time traveller from present day Canada. Gloria is on a mission to travel back in time to stop the transatlantic trade in Africans. She has bypassed the rules of space/time to ask the Afronauts for help in carrying out her plans. Awakening was commissioned and presented by Art Gallery of Alberta as part of Nests for the End of the World in 2020; and was screened as part of Nuit Blanche in Toronto, 2020.
Camille Turner’s artistic and scholarly work combines Afrofuturism and historical research and has been presented throughout Canada and internationally. She is the recipient of the Toronto Biennial of Art’s 2022 Artist Prize and her work has been collected by museums and private collectors. Born in Kingston, Jamaica and currently based in Toronto and LA, her most recent explorations confront the entanglement of what is now Canada in the transatlantic trade in Africans. Camille is a graduate of Ontario College of Art and Design and has recently completed a PhD at York University’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. Currently, she is a Provost postdoctoral fellow at University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.
Minkisi’s Crossing (2016)
Digital Collage Series
Minkisi’s Crossing #11 9 x 12”, Minkisi’s Crossing #17 9 x 12”, Minkisi’s Crossing #18 9 x 12”
This work is a meditation on mourning and memorializing the Middle Passage. Reflective of an arts practice that merges with ceremonial practice, McNeilly's work brings about an integration of the material with the ethereal. Reimagining the poetics of memorialization, she summons her audience to a path of bones on the ocean floor; to mourn and pay respects to our African ancestors. Grounded in the reparative labour of gathering and assembling, this work contemplates fragmentation and gestures toward wholeness.
Mosa sees her work as part of a cannon of Black women artists, scholars, activists, and spiritual practitioners concerned with social justice, cultural reclamation, and freedom. As a member of the DAWA Collective, she is co-coordinating an exhibition project marking the historical 1989 exhibition, Black Wimmin: When and Where We Enter, the first exhibition in Canadian history to be curated by and feature exclusively the work of Black women artists. In her arts education practice, she seeks to foster African cultural literacy, to cultivate Black agency, and to nurture Black self-love. In her spiritual and wellness work, she curates
spaces that centre Black healing. Mosa holds a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University.
Carnival : A DIY Picture Zine (2022)
Ink drawn, digitally painted print
24” x 34”
When I was doing my MES with Honor, she had me read Mikhail Bakhtin’s Rabelais and his World for my major paper on creative cultural expression in Singapore. The time I spent with Honor and other profs at the then FES certainly has some influence in how I make art today. I made carnivalesque the theme for this zine. The medium of this work is a zine because for me the zine expresses the statement of how I experienced FES. The poster also appears on the back side of the zine and can be viewed as the zine’s last panel. Viewers may download this zine by scanning the QR code and print it out for their own use. Displayed here is my coloured version of the poster, made for Honor in mind.
Shuxia is a Singaporean artist and illustrator. She works with various mediums and is presently exploring storytelling through art, particularly in making comics and picture books. Prior to this she was a manager for her family’s dental business, did research in art education at the National Institute of Education (NIE) Singapore, facilitated community art workshops with migrant workers, and was Honor’s student back in 2007-2009.
Sears Lane (2014)
Watercolour Giclee print
16” x 20”
A watercolour painting of a home on Sears Lane in New Providence, The Bahamas.
Born in The Bahamas, Nastassia is a researcher and watercolour artist. She is a master of environmental studies planning candidate (2023) at York University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in architectural science from Toronto Metropolitian University in 2016 (Formerly Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada). Nastassia has worked in the museum sector for over 4 years with the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB).
Nastassia has had several solo exhibitions of her watercolour in The Bahamas that include The Architecture of Community (The D’Aguilar Art Foundation, 2020) and Dwell II (Doongalik Art Gallery & Studios, 2015). Presently residing in Canada, Pratt continues to create architecturally-focused watercolours and models.
Exhibition Coordinator: Jullia Urban
Curated by Andil Gosine