Arts·Opening Up

Why an image of a burning police station ignited a fire in artist Khadijah Morley

Morley takes us inside her home studio as she works on a print confronting anti-Black racism using hand-carved linoleum in a traditional linocut process.

Morley takes us inside her home studio as she works on a print confronting anti-Black racism

Why an image of a burning police station ignited a fire in artist Khadijah Morley

CBC Arts

9 months ago
3:40
Morley takes us inside her home studio as she works on a print confronting anti-Black racism using hand-carved linoleum in a traditional linocut process. 3:40

In Opening Up, the sequel to our self-shot video series COVID Residencies, we're asking artists how the upheavals and uprisings of 2020 are affecting their process and work.

Khadijah Morley has a lot on her mind. As a young Black female artist at the start of her career, she articulates the problem before her that many other Black artists also face: "Often our voices are excluded from the canon of Western art history. So..." She trails off as if conceptualizing a solution mid-thought.

As a student at OCADU, a lot of her artistic practice has centred around drawing and illustration, but recently she has shifted toward printmaking. This move came out of an urgency to insert herself back into her own work, adding a literal human touch for those experiencing her art.

(Khadijah Morley)

In this new video series, called Opening Up, Khadijah does just that: sharing equal parts of her art and her soul as she grapples with anti-Black racism. While the printmaking studio she normally would use at school is currently inaccessible, she brings us into her home studio, making work in a traditional linocut process by hand-carving into linoleum.  

As Khadijah watched the many protests of anti-Black racism taking place across the world, she was particularly drawn to one dramatic image of the Minneapolis police station engulfed in flames, burning to the ground. She's immortalized that moment in her latest print, depicting a Black woman largely in the foreground while the smoke and flames twist wildly behind her. For her, that image was not just an unfortunate casualty — it was emblematic of "what needed to happen to abusive institutions: start fresh." 

(Khadijah Morley)

CBC Arts understands that this is an incredibly difficult time for artists and arts organizations across this country. We will do our best to provide valuable information, share inspiring stories of communities rising up and make us all feel as (virtually) connected as possible as we get through this together. If there's something you think we should be talking about, let us know by emailing us at cbcarts@cbc.ca. See more of our COVID-related coverage here.

About the Author

Lucius Dechausay is a video producer at CBC Arts, as well as a freelance illustrator and filmmaker. His short films and animations have been screened at a number of festivals including The Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs. Most recently he directed KETTLE, which is currently streaming at CBC Short Docs.

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