Transcript: Reflecting the African Diaspora Through Art | Oct 22, 2021

Jeyan Jeganathan wears a navy suit jacket over a pale blue shirt and red tie. He has short black hair and a beard and moustache. Behind Jeyan, text on a screen reads “Ontario Hubs.” Text beneath him reads “Jeyan Jeganathan. @JeyanTVO @theagenda” “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art.”

Jeyan says, LATE LAST YEAR, THE
ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO ANNOUNCED
THE CREATION OF THE DEPARTMENT
OF ARTS OF GLOBAL AFRICA AND THE DIASPORA.

ITS FIRST FULL EXHIBITION IS NOW
ON DISPLAY.

TVO'S DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
REPORTER ASHLEY OKWUOSA CHECKED
IN ON HOW THAT CAME TOGETHER AND
HOW IT'S ALREADY BUILDING
COMMUNITY AND SHE JOINS US FROM
ONTARIO'S CAPITAL CITY.

HI, ASHLEY.

Ashley smiles. She has short black curly hair and wears a red turtleneck sweater. Ashley wears tortoiseshell glasses. Text beneath Ashley reads “Toronto, ON.”

Ashley says, HI JEYAN.

Text beneath Ashley and Jeyan reads “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art. For us, by us.”

Jeyan says, SO IN YOUR ARTICLE,
YOU TALK ABOUT AN ART COLLECTOR
FROM WINDSOR AND AN AGO CURATOR
AND HOW THEY SORT OF WERE INSTRUMENTAL TO
BRINGING THIS ART TO THE AGO.

CATCH US UP TO SPEED ON HOW THAT
ALL CAME TOGETHER.

Text beneath Ashley reads “Ashley Okwuosa. Diversity and Inclusion Journalist, TVO.org” “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art. For us, by us.”

Ashley says, IT'S A REALLY
INTERESTING STORY.

KENNETH MONTAGUE IS A DENTIST
AND ART COLLECTOR AND HE’S ALSO
ONE OF THE TRUSTEES AT THE AGO.

AND JULIE CROOKS IS THE CURATOR OF
THIS NEW DEPARTMENT, ARTS OF GLOBAL
AFRICA AND THE DIASPORA.

A headline on the tvo.org/OntarioHubs website reads “’For us, by us’; How a new Caribbean exhibition is changing the AGO.”

Ashley says, AND BACK IN
TWENTY-EIGHTEEN, JULIE WAS IN
NEW YORK AND HAD COME ACROSS THIS
TREASURE TROVE OF IMAGES, THERE ARE
ABOUT THIRTY-FIVE HUNDRED OF THEM.
LOOKING AT THIRTY-FOUR DIFFERENT
COUNTRIES IN THE CARIBBEAN. THEY
WERE HISTORICAL IMAGES AND WANTED
THEM AT THE AGO.

Text beneath Ashley reads “Ashley Okwuosa. Diversity and Inclusion Journalist, TVO.org” “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art. For us, by us.”

Ashley says, SO APPARENTLY SHE HAD CALLED UP
KENNETH AND THEY WERE SORT OF
THINKING ABOUT HOW DO WE MAKE
THIS HAPPEN.

NOW WHAT'S MOST INTERESTING I
THINK TO ME IS HOW EXACTLY THEY
DID THAT. KENNETH HAS SAID THEY
DON'T WANT TO GO TO A SINGULAR DONOR.

SOMEONE WHO DONATED A TON OF
TIME. THEY WANTED TO MAKE THIS A
COMMUNITY EFFORT.

SO THEY CALLED UP MEMBERS OF
TORONTO'S BLACK URBAN COMMUNITY
AND STARTED RAISING MONEY.
THEY SENT E-MAILS, CALLED PEOPLE
AND OVER A COUPLE OF MONTHS THEY
WERE ABLE TO RAISE THREE HUNDRED
THOUSAND TO ACQUIRE THESE IMAGES
AND TWO HUNDRED OUT

OF THIS LARGER COLLECTION.

TWO HUNDRED OF THESE IMAGES ARE BEING
SHOW CASED AT AN EXHIBITION NOW
CALLED FRAGMENTS OF ETHNIC
MEMORY AT THE AGO.

Jeyan says, WE MENTIONED OFF THE
TOP THAT IT WAS ABOUT A YEAR AGO
THAT THE AGO CREATED THIS NEW
DEPARTMENT -- FIRST OF ITS KIND
IN CANADA -- CAN YOU TELL US
WHAT THE PURPOSE OF THAT
DEPARTMENT AND WHAT IT’S SORT
OF GOAL WAS?

Text beneath Ashley reads “Ashley Okwuosa. Diversity and Inclusion Journalist, TVO.org” “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art. For us, by us.”

Ashley says, THE DEPARTMENT WILL
FOCUS ON EXPANDING THE MUSEUM'S
COLLECTION AND EXHIBITS FROM
AFRICA AND THE DIASPORA.

Text beneath Ashley reads “Ashley Okwuosa. @ashleyokwuosa” “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art. For us, by us.”

IT WAS INTENDED TO DEEPEN THE
MUSEUM’S ROOTS IN THE COMMUNITY.
ALONG SIDE THE DEPARTMENT,
THERE IS A COMMITTEE CALLED
GLOBAL FRIENDS OF THE DIASPORA.

IN THAT COMMUNITY THERE ARE
ABOUT SEVENTEEN MEMBERS MADE
UP OF ART STUDENTS TO PROFESSIONALS,
PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCE AND
PEOPLE WHO DON'T AND IT'S REALLY
ABOUT HAVING THESE PEOPLE REALLY
CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEPARTMENT IN
SOME WAY, YOU KNOW, WHETHER IT'S
KIND OF RAISING MONEY FOR FUTURE
ACQUISITIONS OR SUPPORTING THE
WORK OF THE DEPARTMENT ITSELF.

SO THE CENTRE REALLY GOT ABOUT
DEEPENING THE MUSEUM'S ROOTS IN
THE COMMUNITY.

Jeyan says, AND IT REALLY SEEMS
LIKE, YOU KNOW, SORT OF
SHRINKING THAT GAP AS WELL SOME
PEOPLE MAY FEEL THAT THE ART
COMMUNITY IS QUITE EXCLUSIVE IN
YOUR REPORTING AS WELL.

DID YOU KIND OF SEE WHERE THAT
GAP -- WHERE THAT GAP CAME FROM
AND HOW THEY'RE SORT OF
ADDRESSING THAT AS WELL?

Text beneath Ashley reads “Ashley Okwuosa. Diversity and Inclusion Journalist, TVO.org” “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art. For us, by us.”

Ashley says, YEAH, I THINK PEOPLE
MENTIONED THAT YOU CAN'T REALLY
HAVE A DIVERSE REPRESENTATION OF
PEOPLE IN THE ART COMMUNITY IF
YOU DON'T REALLY ASK THEM, IF
YOU DON'T KIND OF REACH OUT TO
THE PEOPLE WHO YOU WANT TO SEE
BE PART OF THESE COMMITTEES OR
BE PART OF THESE CONVERSATIONS
AND ASK THEM TO JOIN.

YOU KNOW, SO I THINK THAT'S WHAT
THE MUSEUM IS DOING WITH THIS COMMITTEE.

BUT SOMEONE ALSO MENTIONED TO ME
THAT HISTORICALLY MUSEUMS
HAVEN'T ALWAYS DONE RIGHT BY
PEOPLE OF COLOUR.

BLACK PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, FOR
EXAMPLE. SHE HAD MENTIONED
ESPECIALLY MAYBE FOR EXAMPLE
WITH MUSEUMS IN EUROPE, YOU
KNOW, GOING TO MUSEUMS AND
SEEING ART THAT'S BEEN LOOTED OR
TAKEN FROM AFRICAN COUNTRIES AND
THINGS LIKE THAT.

Text beneath Ashley reads “Ashley Okwuosa. Diversity and Inclusion Journalist, TVO.org” “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art. For us, by us.”

Ashley says, SO I THINK WHAT REALLY
SHE FELT WHEN SHE WAS LOOKING AT THIS
EXHIBIT, SHE REALLY FELT LIKE
SHE WAS BEING WELCOMED, SHE
WOULD ASK TO BE PART OF SOMETHING.

THAT WAS REALLY THE SENSE AND I
THINK THAT'S HOW THE EXHIBIT IS
CLOSING THIS GAP.

Jeyan says, BEFORE WE GET INTO
SOME PHOTOS OF THE EXHIBITS
WHICH IS CALLED FRAGMENTS OF
EPIC MEMORY, I UNDERSTAND THAT
THIS EXHIBIT TRIES TO ANSWER A
QUESTION AND THAT QUESTION IS
‘HOW DO WE SEE CARIBBEAN?’

WHAT EXACTLY DOES THAT MEAN?

Text beneath Ashley reads “Ashley Okwuosa. Diversity and Inclusion Journalist, TVO.org” “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art. For us, by us.”

Ashley says, THAT'S ACTUALLY A
REALLY GOOD QUESTION.
I DIDN'T -- I WISH THE PIECE HAD
EXPLORED IT MORE.

BUT THE PICTURES IN THE EXHIBIT
GO FROM EIGHTEEN-FORTIES TO
NINETEEN-FORTIES SO THIS IS
POST EMANCIPATION.

IT SHOWS DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE
CARIBBEAN, DIFFERENT COUNTRIES
OF THE CARIBBEAN AT DIFFERENT
TIMES THROUGHOUT THIS TIME PERIOD.

SO I THINK WHAT THE MUSEUM IS
TRYING TO DO IS SHOW THERE IS NO
ONE SINGULAR STORY.

THERE ARE A LOT OF COUNTRIES,
CULTURES AND SHARED HISTORY THAT
I THINK IT DOES TRY TO SHOW CASE
THAT IN A REALLY NUANCED WAY.

Jeyan says, LET'S GET INTO SOME OF
THE ARTWORK.

THIS EXHIBIT HAS A COLLECTION OF
BOTH HISTORICAL PHOTOS AND
CONTEMPORARY ART.

THIS IS A HISTORICAL PHOTO.
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT WE'RE
LOOKING AT HERE?

A black and white photograph shows a woman posing for a portrait. The woman wears a dress and a detailed headpiece.

Ashley says, YEAH, SURE.
THIS IS A BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO
FROM THE MONTGOMERY COLLECTION.

IT IS A PHOTO OF A WOMAN DRESSED
REALLY REGALLY WITH A HEAD PIECE
DATED EIGHTEEN-NINETY.
AND THE TITLE IS "UNKNOWN
MARTINIQUE WOMAN" WHICH SHOWS
YOU HOW FAR BACK THEY GO.

THAT'S ONE EXAMPLE.

Jeyan says, VERY INTERESTING.
THIS IS A BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO
WITH FIVE WOMEN.
I BELIEVE THIS IS CALLED
"JAMAICAN WOMEN."

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THIS
PHOTO HERE.

Five women stand in a row in a black and white photograph.

Ashley says, YEAH, THIS IS DEFINITELY
ANOTHER PHOTO FROM THE
MONTGOMERY COLLECTION, ANOTHER

HISTORICAL PHOTO.

IT IS BLACK AND WHITE.
IT IS A PHOTO FROM JAMAICA AND
THIS IS SORT OF POST THE
ABOLISHMENT OF SLAVERY.

THIS IS -- THIS PHOTO HELPS TELL
THAT STORY OF THAT PERIOD.

Jeyan says, AND THIS ONE'S A BIT
OF A DEPARTURE FROM THE FIRST TWO.
AGAIN, MORE OF A CONTEMPORARY SIDE.

THIS ONE IS CALLED ‘UNTITLED
SEVEN WOMEN.’

TELL US ABOUT THIS IMAGE.

A woman in a headpiece smiles as she leans towards another woman.

Ashley says, THIS IS BY PAUL
ANTHONY SMITH.

IT'S KIND OF A MULTI-COLOURED
DEPICTION OF WOMEN IN WHAT I'M
ASSUMING, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE IN
CARNIVAL IN FULL HEAD DRESS WITH
THE PIECES AND THE HEAD PIECES
AND THE BODY PIECES.

AND IT'S A REALLY WONDERFUL
DEPICTION OF SOMETHING THAT
WE'VE COME TO SEE DURING THE
CARNIVAL PERIOD.

A photograph shows a bright painting of women walking together on a road.

Jeyan says, ALL RIGHT AND WE HAVE
THIS IMAGE AS WELL.

THIS ONE IS CALLED "WOMEN'S
CARNIVAL GROUP." VERY BEAUTIFUL HERE.

TELL US ABOUT THAT.

Ashley says, IT'S A PAINTING BY
COMEAU GEORGE.

THIS IS ALSO AT THE EXHIBIT.
IT'S ANOTHER MULTI-COLOURED
EXHIBIT OF WOMEN AND PEOPLE
GENERALLY IN A TOWN SQUARE
DURING A CARNIVAL PERIOD.

I THINK THE IMAGE GOES ON TO SHOW
CASE THAT VIBRANCY AND JOY
THAT USUALLY HAPPENS DURING
THIS PERIOD.

Jeyan says, I AM CURIOUS TO KNOW
THAT YOU SPOKE TO SOME PEOPLE
WHO GOT TO GO THROUGH THE EXHIBIT.

I AM CURIOUS, HOW HAS IT BEEN
RECEIVED IN THE COMMUNITY BUT
ALSO I'M CURIOUS TO KNOW SORT OF
WITH THE YOUNGER CARIBBEAN SORT
OF COMMUNITY HERE, HOW ARE THEY
SORT OF TAKING IN THIS EXHIBIT
AND SORT OF SEEING THIS SORT OF
FOR THE FIRST TIME?

Text beneath Ashley reads “Ashley Okwuosa. Diversity and Inclusion Journalist, TVO.org” “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art. Fragments of Epic Memory.”

Ashley says, I SPOKE TO ARTISTS
AND JUST, YOU KNOW, GENERAL
ENTHUSIASTS WHO WENT TO SEE
THE SHOW.

SOMEONE DESCRIBED IT AS A HEALING
JOURNEY WHICH I THOUGHT WAS
INTERESTING. ANOTHER DESCRIBED
IT AS A BRIDGE.

A BRIDGE THAT EITHER SHE HADN'T
BEEN TO IN A WHILE OR A CULTURE
THAT SHE HAD FORGOTTEN OR HADN'T
EXPERIENCED AS MUCH AS SHE WOULD
LIKE TO.

Text beneath Ashley reads “Ashley Okwuosa. @ashleyokwuosa” “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art. Fragments of Epic Memory.”

Ashley continues, I THINK THAT'S WHAT
A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE SEEING.

A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY I LOOK AT
THE PICTURES AND SEE PEOPLE WHO
LOOK LIKE MY FAMILY MEMBERS, MY
AUNT, MY UNCLE MY GRANDMOTHER.

SO I THINK IT REALLY IS
DEFINITELY A STORY TELLING
EXPERIENCE FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE
AND THEY FEEL VERY CONNECTED TO
IT PERSONALLY.

Jeyan says, I SHOULD MENTION THAT
THE EXHIBIT IS OPEN, HAS BEEN
OPEN SINCE SEPTEMBER AND RUNS
UNTIL FEBRUARY TWENTY-FIRST.

ASHLEY, I WANT TO THANK YOU SO
MUCH. REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

Text beneath Ashley reads “a. Reflecting the African diaspora through art. Produced by: Carla Lucchetta. @carrletta”

Ashley says, THANK YOU.

[Serene music plays]

Text reads “Ontario Hubs. Ontario Hubs are made possible by: The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust & Goldie Feldman.”

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