Art & Architecture

Honouring Canada's Black Artists

The presentation of the work of Black Canadian artists at the Senate honours their substantial contribution to the visual arts in Canada and to the understanding of our diversity and societal interactions.

This rotating exhibit, launched in 2020, is located in the Senate of Canada Building.

Exhibitions

The presentation of the work of Black Canadian artists at the Senate honours their substantial contribution to the visual arts in Canada and to the understanding of our diversity and societal interactions.

The second installation in this series features works by Trinidadian-Canadian painter Denyse Thomasos and American-born Canadian image maker Tim Whiten. The works were installed in the foyer of the Senate of Canada Building. Take the Senate of Canada Building Virtual Tour to see the display in situ.

Photo credit: Toni Hafkenscheid

Light Laureate

2019-2020
sandblasted crystal clear glass, mirror, wood (maple and oak), burnt fragments of drawings (coffee and pencil on handmade paper)
88.3 cm x 67.3 cm

“Mirroring / reflection… a key element in the making of a ‘human being.’” – Tim Whiten

Loan credit: Courtesy of Tim Whiten and the Olga Korper Gallery

About the artist

Tim Whiten

Photo credit: Margherita Matera

Tim Whiten

Canadian, American
Inkster, United States, 1941

Tim Whiten is a Canadian image maker who has sought to navigate the territory of the human condition and its transformative potential over 40 years of creating cultural objects. The materials he uses are most often presented in reductive and compressed objects, with the intent of inviting experience and encouraging “sensing” over “reading.”


Photo credit: Courtesy of the Olga Korper Gallery

Wyoming Saddle

2000
acrylic on paper
55.9 cm x 75.6 cm

Wyoming Saddle is one in a series of eight works stemming from the painter’s time at an artist residency in Wyoming. Denyse Thomasos often used an abstract ribcage motif to symbolize the experience of slavery and confinement; this motif is visible in Wyoming Saddle with the use of thick, black lines.

Loan credit: Courtesy of the Olga Korper Gallery

About the artist

Artist Denyse Thomasos

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Estate of Denyse Thomasos and Olga Korper Gallery

Denyse Thomasos

Trinidadian, Canadian
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 1964
New York, United States, 2012

Denyse Thomasos was an award-winning painter who lived in Toronto and later, in New York City. Her work was informed by her extensive international travels and her study of the effects of oppressive systems on the African diaspora.


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The first installation in this series featured works by Nigerian-born Winnipeg painter Yisa Akinbolaji and Vancouver-based artist and poet Chantal Gibson. The works were displayed outside the Senate Chamber, in the outer antechamber, from September 2020 to July 2021.

Stolen Identities

2018
acrylic and oil on canvas
165 cm x 114 cm

Stolen Identities portrays Louis Riel in a dreamcatcher, in a Manitoba poplar wood. The artist painted the trees and background in traditional Nigerian colours and forms, linking heritages past and present that make up Canada’s cultural diversity.

Loan credit: Courtesy of Yisa Akinbolaji

About the artist

Artist Yisa Akinbolaji

Photo credit: Leif Norman

Yisa Akinbolaji

Nigerian, Canadian
Ondo, Nigeria, 1960
Winnipeg, Manitoba, arrival 1997 

Yisa Akinbolaji is a Winnipeg-based visual artist and painter, who immigrated to Canada from Nigeria. He developed and uses a technique involving a form of removable glue to create special patterns, textures and effects in his work.


Who’s Who in Canada 1927

2014
multimedia installation
1. Mixed media altered book sculpture. Who’s Who in Canada 1927 directory of notable Canadians & black cotton thread.
2. Browsing Who’s Who (2014). Process video. MP3 with e-reader.
15.2 cm x 15.2 cm x 5.1 cm (wood book plinth), 27.9 cm x 35.6 cm x 20.3 cm (altered book)

In Who’s Who in Canada 1927, Chantal Gibson calls for Canada’s historical texts to include the histories of Black Canadians, multi-generational Canadians and immigrants to Canada. She altered the pages from a 1927 edition of Who’s Who in Canada and filled the covers with braided black cotton thread. An accompanying e-reader plays a recording of the artist flipping through the book’s pages as they were originally printed.

Loan credit: Courtesy of Chantal Gibson

About the artist

Artist Chantal Gibson

Photo credit: Sarah Race

Chantal Gibson

Canadian
Saint-Jean, Quebec, 1967

Chantal Gibson is an artist, poet and educator who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her mixed-media series Historical In(ter)ventions — which includes Who’s Who in Canada 1927 — explores the omission of Black voices in Canadian historical texts.


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The Senate is honouring Canada’s Black artists

The Senate is honouring Canada’s Black artists

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