NIA CENTRE – ON OUR BOOKSHELF

I conceptualized a book donation program for the Nia Centre for the Arts alongside Executive Director Alica. When I visited the Nia Centre for our exhibiton “Eglinton Cityscapes : New Persepectives on Home” Alica showed me their growing library- I was in the process of moving at the time and thought about all the books I had (that I love but would part ways with for the right reason) and how this would be a great opportunity to share information/inspiration with emerging black artists that use the space.

We ran into each other a few months later and came up with the idea of having artists donate books and being interviewed on why they chose said books to donate. I donated Shaniqwa Jarvis’ self titled photo book. Read the interview below.

Q:Why did you choose this book?
I chose Shaniqwas’ book because her work is a great identifier for black photographers as it spans across many different orbits. Her existence as a black female photographer (whose dealt with sexism, racism as well as being under appreciated/undermined) is a revolutionary act in itself- the fact that she’s persevered and made timeless work for over 20 years is exciting and inspiring. I want this book to be among other black artists who may need a reminder when their creative professions/pursuits become stifling and we forget there are reference points out there for us that have laid guidelines on how we can operate. Beyond race as a qualifier, she’s found a way to translate various realms of photography (personal, commercial, fashion, fine art) in a very fluid and personal way. It’s an amazing book that highlights the various ways a photographer can approach their style and that they don’t have to flow in any specific stream.

 Q: Why should Black artists read this book?
Shaniqwa is an amazing photographer first and foremost, that’s the main reason I chose this book. Ultimately, I hope it encourages black artists to further dive into her story and learn about the obstacles she faced and how she’s managed to overcome them. And also recognize that her story is one of many and that whatever they’re facing isn’t unique, there are others who have dealt with similar challenges and not to feel like they need to tackle any of it alone. Walk towards people who support and uplift you wholeheartedly, give what you can when and where you can, make sure your heart and intentions are pure and continue to grow.

Q:How did it help your artistic practice?
It helped me understand the scope of where photography can be taken and generally was thrilling to own a book from such an amazing black woman.

Q: What your favourite quote or line?
There’s no text, but my favourite photo is the cover photo which Shaniqwa took of her niece, styled in her clothes and using her phone