Moderated by Born in Power curator Jaimie Isaac, this virtual Zoom-style panel talk features artists in the exhibition: Ella Cooper, Anique Jordan, Shimby Zegeye-Gebrehiwot, Kali Spitzer and Raven Davis.
Topics discussed include themes within the artist’s individual work, and collectively in the exhibition.
Ella Cooper is an award winning cultural leader, producer, facilitator, photo-video artist, educator and programmer based in Toronto. She has been working in the arts and culture sector for over 20 years. Her creative work uses photography, film and visual arts to explore the diaspora, the creation of positive representations of the Black body in Canada, new representations of motherhood, arts for social change, community storytelling, contemporary dance, children’s programming and hybrid identities through multi-racial feminist lens.
She is also the founder of Black Women Film! Canada a new collective and leadership initiative supporting the development of Black women filmmakers that she created with support from TIFF, CBC, CFC, the Nia Centre for the Arts and 40 Black women filmmakers funded by numerous arts councils, donors and foundations.
Ella continues to design and facilitate transformative leadership, anti-oppression and arts empowerment programs for diverse communities, youth and not for profit organizations across Canada, the US, Europe, the Caribbean and South Africa. Ella Cooper holds a Masters of Education and has served as part time faculty at University of Toronto Scarborough. In addition, she continues to be a featured speaker and guest facilitator for national and international conferences.
In 2020, Ella received the Tiffany’s Hometown Hero Award, she received Editor’s Pick in Canadian Art Magazine for her latest solo show currently on tour and was recognized by Chatelaine Magazine as ‘30 Black Women Making Change Now’. In 2019, she was nominated for a Mayor’s Arts Cultural Leadership Award and in 2017 selected as one of Toronto Arts Council’s Cultural Leader Fellows.
Ella’s work has been presented in galleries, public spaces and festivals in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Berlin. She receives continued support from the Canada Council, Toronto Arts Foundation and Ontario Arts Council, as well as being a recipient of a City of Vancouver award and recent artist in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Her acclaimed documentary film debut ‘Black Men Loving’ won ‘Best Canadian Film’ at the International Caribbean Tales Film Festival, plus she received ‘Best Canadian Presentation’ award for her work in collaboration with Alison Duke and the Akua Benjamin Legacy Project series she directed with five other Black female directors, celebrating 50 year of Black activism in Toronto. In addition, her short dance film documentary series ‘Dance for Life’ aired on Fibe TV1 and received honorable mention for ‘Best Dance Film Documentary’ at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival.
Ella also enjoys being a senior writer for CBC Parents and has a children’s show in development for CBC Kids under her new production company Brown Rabbit Studios.
Hagere Selam “Shimby” Zegeye-Gebrehiwot is an artist, writer and administrator who currently works and resides between Treaty 1 and Treaty 4 territories. They have received funding from municipal, provincial and national arts councils as well as awards from local and transnational arts organizations. Their practice engages with themes of place and it’s abstraction from a diasporic, queer and feminist perspective. Currently, they are the Executive Director at the Saskatchewan Filmpool, Co-Director of WNDX Festival of Moving Image and guest editor of the forthcoming Art&Wonder publication.
Kali Spitzer is a queer photographer living on the traditional unceded lands of the Tsleil-Waututh, Skxwú7mesh and Musqueam peoples. Kali’s work embraces the stories of contemporary queer and trans bodies and BIPOC creating representation that is self determined.. Kali’s collaborative process is informed by the desire to rewrite the visual histories of indigenous bodies beyond a colonial lens. Kali is Kaska Dena from Daylu (Lower Post, British Columbia) on her father’s side and Jewish from Transylvania, Romania on her mother’s side. Kali’s heritage deeply influences her work as she focuses on cultural revitalization through her art, whether in the medium of photography, ceramics, tanning hides or hunting. Her work includes portraits, figure studies and photographs of her people, ceremonies, and culture.
Kali’s work has been featured in exhibitions at galleries and museums internationally including, the National Geographic’s Women: a Century of Change at the National Geographic Museum (2020), and Larger than Memory: Contemporary Art From Indigenous North America at the Heard Museum (2020). In 2017 Kali received a Reveal Indigenous Art Award from Hnatyshyn Foundation.
Kali would like to extend her gratitude to all who have collaborated with her, she recognizes the trust and vulnerability required to be photographed in such intimate ways.
Raven Davis is an Anishinaabe, 2-Spirit, trans, disabled multidisciplinary artist, and educator whose maternal lineage is from Treaty Four in Manitoba, Canada. Davis was born and raised in Michi Saagig /T’karonto Territory (Toronto, Ontario). Davis resides and works as a professional artist as well as curator between K’jipuktuk, Halifax and their birth territory. A parent of three sons’, Davis works within the mediums of painting, performance and media. Challenging systemic oppression, and as a tool for personal and social transformation, Davis fuses narratives of colonization, race, gender, disability, transformative justice, land and their lived experience within their work.
Throughout Davis’s career, they’ve exhibited at the Venice Biennale in Italy, performed at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and throughout Canada. They have been invited to deliver Keynote addresses, panels, and workshops at Princeton and Carleton University, the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity, Alberta, and for Mix, Brooklyn, New York. In addition to screening their films in Berlin, United Kingdom and South America, Davis has also worked as a designer for IKEA (Toronto, Montreal and California), The Toronto Olympic Bid, The Assembly of the First Nations, and Membertou, Nova Scotia. Davis is committed to Black and Indigenous futures, and meaningful commitment, engagement and collaboration of 2-Spirit, transgender and disability within the arts sector.
In addition to being an artist, Davis has worked and volunteered in Indigenous, and art-based institutions and organizations for over to 30 years. Beginning in the early 90’s in organizations at organizations that support Indigenous justice models, culture, health, child protection, sex worker rights, and Indigenous sovereignty. Davis is committed to the historical narratives which fuel myths, and stereotypes, and impacting Indigenous and Canadian relations, and society. Through public engagement, community building, educating, and transformative justice models, Davis has worked with many organizations and businesses to develop and improve policies and accountability frameworks to increase, and maintain equitable representation and leadership.