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2020 Black History Month, Florence


leaf jerlefia is a Jamaican-Canadian curator, poet and cultural critic, whose work explores notions of diaspora, home and belonging. She is the author of Hope & Hunger Handbound Books—a series of hand-bound artist books featuring poetry and prose inspired by feminism, diaspora and community. Her titles, In Transit and Black Is the Colour of My Hair, have been sold at Xpace Cultural Centre, Aspace Gallery, Canzine Toronto and the Chester Newsstand. Her multiples, entitled Doctor’s Notes Against Intolerance (2016), were featured in This ArtWorks!, a web-series for CBC Arts in collaboration with Madeleine Co.


Diasporic Dialogues

OCAD U professor Andrea Fatona and senior undergraduate Criticism and Curatorial Practice student, Leaf jerlefia (Watson), will collaborate with BHMF, international curator Simone Frangi, and artists Binta Diaw, Francis Offman, Raziel Perin, and Emmanuel Yoro Gallagher to develop the first phase of a project that will see dialogue and exchange between emerging Italian artists and Black Toronto-based emerging artists and curators. The goal of this initial engagement is to create a sustainable set of relations between BHMF, emerging Black Canadian curators, and Black Italian and Canadian artists through dialogue and exhibition presentations in Italy and Canada. More specifically, we envision curating an exhibition of the works of the four Italian artists alongside emerging Black artists in Toronto in February 2121.

During their visit to Florence, Fatona and Watson will conduct studio visits with the four Italian artists during the artists’ residency at the OCAD U studios in Via Bonifaccio Lupi in early February 2020. In addition to conducting studio visits, we will participate in a range of meetings and presentations regarding the Black Canadian artistic milieu. Relationships will be developed in Florence to support an ongoing set of dialogues between BHMF and OCAD U.

Diasporic Dialogues - Toronto component

Diasporic Dialogues (Toronto-Florence) will consist of a group exhibition that brings together the works of emerging Black Italian and Black Toronto-based artists. The exhibition project seeks to create spaces of conversation to engage with notions of Black diaspora and the specificities of Black Canadian and Black Italian art production. The exhibition will take place in 2021 at a location to be determined.

Emerging curator, Leaf Watson will conduct research and studio visits in Toronto to identify three (3) emerging artists whose works will be exhibited along with the following emerging Italian artists - Binta Diaw, Francis Offman, Raziel Perin, and Emmanuel Yoro Gallagher. Ancillary activities such as curator’s tours, artist talks and workshops will be developed to accompany the exhibition.


2020 Black History Month Florence

Florence, Italy


leaf jerlefia


"Black History Month Florence (BHMF) in collaboration with OCAD U and The Student Hotel

The need for safe spaces of solidarity, collectivity and dialogue is ever growing in a context where marginalization and social stigma mark emerging artists of the African Diaspora worldwide. For the Italian context and the socio-cultural reality of Black Italians, the need for exchange is profound. YGBI Research Residency and Training Program is a collective studio experience born from a collaboration between BHMF, OCAD U and The Student Hotel to take place in the studios of OCAD U and the classrooms and auditoriums of The Student Hotel coinciding with the first 10 days of Black History Month Florence.

International curator Simone Frangi has facilitated the selection of young artists based in Italy for the project. These artists are invited to spend 10 days together working in the studios of OCAD U in tandem with a range of encounters, dialogues and events curated by Black History Month Florence designed to stimulate their work and process. The studio experience is overseen and guided by International Curator Andrea Fatona, a professor at OCAD U together with leaf jerlefia, recent alumnus from OCAD U and curator/artist as well. The conversations contextualized under the framework of Diasporic Dialogues, fuel the exchange and to lend a curatorial outlook intended to frame the planning of a resulting exhibition and the writing to accompany this project."

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