For Black History Month in 2021, the University of New Brunswick Art Centre has created a special online exhibition that is available to everyone free of charge.
This special project, which was created in partnership with UNB’s Bi-Campus Standing Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Human Rights and the City of Fredericton, is meant to celebrate and commemorate the “achievements and experiences of remarkable individuals,” according to the Art Centre’s website.
The exhibition is divided into the East and West Galleries, with each being narrated by members of the New Brunswick Black Artists Alliance. The East Gallery is narrated by Dr. Mary McCarthy-Brandt. McCarthy-Brandt works in research, seeking to reveal the history of New Brunswick’s Black community and to honour their history by looking at lost and segregated graveyards across New Brunswick. As she narrates, McCarthy-Brandt reads and discusses the letter written by Mary Matilda Winslow, the first Black woman to graduate from UNB, to the 50th anniversary class reunion in 1954. Winslow graduated from UNB in 1905, and her letter discusses her experiences with racism and discrimination.
The West Gallery features performances of original poetry by Thandiwe McCarthy, Emmanuelle Jackson, Savannah Thomas, and Chevelle Malcolm. The West Gallery performance also features a musical performance by local singer Ms. Thomas. It is a compelling series of performances, and is especially remarkable considering the fact that the entire exhibit was created in a COVID-safe manner. All of the performances were recorded in isolation.
The discussion and reading by Dr. Mary McCarthy-Brandt, the poetry performances by McCarthy, Jackson, Thomas, and Malcolm, and the musical performance by Ms. Thomas are all determined, passionate performances that bring the viewer both joy and sadness. It’s worth it to experience the exhibition, and even better to sit down with some friends (from your ten-person bubble), set up a projector, and experience the exhibition like it’s a gallery in your own home.