Brampton photographer's work featured in Black History Month celebration at PAMA

 

Janice Reid knows the importance of Black women telling their own story.

“A lot of times, Black females, they go unrecognized on many skills in different industries,” said the Brampton portrait photographer, whose work is being featured in the celebration of Black History Month at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA).

“To be part of that history and to be a part of doing the work I am, archiving these women, it’s important for Black female creatives to be image-makers and tell their own story.”

Reid helps highlight some of those stories with her work in When the Night Stirred at Sea: Contemporary Caribbean Art.

The virtual exhibition, which is on at PAMA until February 21, brings together works by several English Caribbean artists working at home (Trinidad and Jamaica) and in the Diaspora (Canada, USA and the UK) and explores a variety of urgent and common themes of identity, colonization, as well as social activism and justice that connect all of us.

“I really focused - and my work - on the black female image,” said Reid, who has a diploma in creative photography from Humber College in Toronto. “My work is definitely centred around being Afro-centric. I do want to provide Black women with a visual language of being captured by a Black woman and how that looks like.

“A lot of times, especially in image-making, it’s predominantly male, it’s predominantly white, so I would kind of like to be an erasure of the past …with my work.” 

Reid believes the exhibition celebrating Caribbean art is one of the first of its kind in the GTA. An important exhibition that not only fans of art should have on their radar, but anyone who wants to learn more about the history of Black people.

“I feel with this exhibition it’s just scraping the service with things that we’ll see as a collective need to know about our history and what we need to know about black individuals and our contribution,” she said.

“There has definitely been an erasure of our history and what everyone is seeing is that we’re in the forefront and we’re telling people also to do the research and also do the work.”

By covering the Caribbean and the Diaspora, Reid says the exhibit helps educate others that there are Caribbean artists and painters. That there are people who love to do this type of work and they’re not highlighted as other contemporary artists.

“A lot of black people or Caribbean people, in general, feel that in coming from a Caribbean home they don’t believe that you can be successful in the arts, or it’s not a viable way to live,” Reid explained. “Sometimes Black and Caribbean people feel they don’t belong in these spaces, but if you do your research and you do the work you’ll see that there are Caribbean artists.

“You’ll see that Black people do live in these spaces and it’s important we highlight that and we are able to live and make a living off of being creative.” 

While this year’s celebration of Black History Month has been affected by the current COVID-19 restrictions and resulted in PAMA limiting the exhibitions to online viewing only, the work is now available to a broader audience.

“You can’t go into spaces physically and explore and view the artwork and get a sense of it, and look at the texture of a painting, but it has opened the doors for people across the globe to view it,” Reid said. 

“It is on the internet so somebody can simply search it and it’ll be archived and if they’re doing any research they can easily go ahead and view the artwork. It has opened up to a wide range of audiences that is eager to participate and view this exhibition.”

When Night Stirred at Sea: Contemporary Caribbean Art is just one of the online exhibitions being celebrated at PAMA this month, along with their PAMA Talks series. 

Those interested in following up on Reid’s creative endeavours or purchasing her work can go to Instagram @janice.reid

Photo courtesy of Janice Reid

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