Summerside art show celebrates the individuality, diversity of Black artists

An art exhibit in Summerside, P.E.I., aims to overcome the idea that there is a single way to be Black. 

'It's always good to break a stereotype,' says one of the artists

Art show Collective Intricacies celebrates Black artists individuality

7 months ago
Duration 2:33
Five Black artists' work is being showcased at Eptek Art and Culture Centre in Summerside, P.E.I., to celebrate their diversity and individuality.

An art exhibit in Summerside, P.E.I., aims to overcome the idea that there is a single way to be Black. 

Tamara Steele, curator of Collective Intricacies, says the purpose of the exhibition is to showcase Black people as individuals. 

"We are many cultures that make up a Black community," Steele said.

"Not just a monolithic being of Black people. And I think that goes with Black artists as well."

Tamara Steele is the curator for Collective Intricacies, an art show at Eptek Art and Culture Centre. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

Steele said when she was putting the show together she was looking for artists working in different mediums or art styles.

The five artists are Baha Royalty, Chester Hewlett, King Kxndi, Martology and Sammo Mossa, and their creations are being displayed at the Eptek Art and Culture Centre, in partnership with this town is small — an organization working to advance the work of contemporary visual artists on P.E.I.

There are large-scale paintings on different types of fabric, digital animations, small paintings, a massive black-and-white sketch, digital artwork and more.

'Giving a piece of myself to someone'

Shawna Gibson, also known as Baha Royalty, said their art is mainly abstract and sharing it with other people is like "giving a piece of myself to someone."

Shawna Gibson, who uses the stage name as Baha Royalty, is one of the artists in Collective Intricacies. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

Gibson said this exhibit is meant to show that Black artists come from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences.

"It's always good to break a stereotype," she said. "It's always good to show diversity within a class." 

Hewlett said his art is a representation of what he feels and experiences as a human being.

"It's good to have art that represents us, but then it also misses our individuality. It misses what we are and from the different parts of the world that we're from," he said.

"I feel this is a great opportunity to meet with other artists that also have that ability to share themselves."

Chester Hewlett is a digital artist taking part in the showcase. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

Steele said there is talk about "Black art" and "Black music," "Black love and Black joy" — as if things should be classified as Black when Black people do them.

"As if Black people are a genre in themselves," she said.

"Not to say that it's wrong to say Black art, or to say Black artists … just understand that there are so many different versions of that one thing that people are considering, and there are five different versions for you to peruse in this exhibition."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.