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White Rock show explores Black History and experience

Black History Month celebrated in Unity in Diversity exhibition

Fascinating imagery and arresting textures – and textiles – are hallmarks of a new exhibition celebrating Black History Month, this month at the Landmark Pop-Uptown Gallery at White Rock’s Central Plaza.

Unity In Diversity features expressions of Black History, by a collective of six artists, through “texture, oil, textile and collage.”

Organizer Naa Sheka has joined fellow artists Crystal Noir, Adeline Poufong, Collin Patrick, Devon Mars and John Hall in the show, which highlights everything from stylized realism to surrealism to illustrate aspects of Black History and experience.

Vancouver-born Sheka, who grew up in White Rock, said she was glad to be able to bring together five other artists who are as excited as she is to bring “the discussion about Black History” to the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

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“My background is in the fashion business, so my personal art pieces have to do with fabrics,” she explained.

Through her website (http://linktr.ee/naasheka), Sheka designs clothing in and markets colourful fabrics hand-woven in Ghana, including ceremonial ‘Kente Cloth’, and wax-resist dyed ‘Wax Cotton’ (a percentage of her sales goes toward building libraries in Ghana).

She was also recently commissioned by the Vancouver Canucks to design a ‘Black Excellence’ Canucks jersey for the team’s community night event (Feb. 15), and is also selling a limited collection of fashion hoodies with her logo design.

Noir (instagram.com/crystalnoir.art/) describes her work as Afro-Surrealist oil painting “exploring the interplay of of ongoing colonial violence and mental health disparities within BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) communities.”

Her powerful imagery, addressing systemic racism, features images of beautiful Black faces in which the top of the head, from the eyes up, is absent or in some way obliterated, illustrating her theme: “the eyes are useless if the mind is blind.”

Poufong (adelinepoufong.com) says her art explores “conversations about identity, belonging and self-worth, and promotes healing and unity.”

“My work serves as a dynamic reflection of my personal journey and discovery of my creative voice,” she states.

Poufong’s compelling portraiture is increasingly incorporates elements of nature, she notes – exploring the juxtaposition of faces and bodies with landscapes and leaf and rock patterns.

Patrick’s (collemo.art) loosely drawn yet artful pieces, often incorporating text, “delve into the realms of lifestyle, spirituality and pop-culture,” he said.

“I look at my portfolio as a living diary in which I describe the people, places, and things I engage with, and then provide visual commentary on what thoughts and feelings come out of them,” Patrick comments.

“This statement and response style of creation is what pushes the conversation beyond just the work and the artist, but to the viewer and the outside world.”

Mars’ (instagram.com/realdevonmars/) highly-symbolic imagined landscapes draw on imagery from a wide variety of sources, adding that his preferred field is “Afro-futurism/hip-hop iconography.”

Incorporating a performance art element his paintings employ such media as aerosol and gouache and emphasize both bold colours and dynamic line movements.

Hall (jhallx.com), meanwhile, works in mixed media, collage and oils.

But rather than appropriating imagery, he finds colours and textures in each of his sources to create his own highly individual palette, which he applies to meditative pieces that can include everything from portraiture to seascapes and landscapes, still lifes and urban studies.

Unity in Diversity continues until Saturday, Feb. 24 at the gallery, 16140 North Bluff Rd.