Black And Free: Art Exhibition and Symposium at Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum

Sunday, March 26, 2023 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

For centuries Black people all over the world have used visual art, literature, performance, theatre, music and other means of expression to imagine and advocate for freedom in their public and private lives. Started by Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae in 2017, Black And Free is an artistic and academic experience that deepens, enlivens and expresses themes of blackness and freedom projecting expansive visions of what that could be for engaged, curious and casual members of the public.

“I believe in artists’ ability to connect, express, and inspire” says Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae “and I believe that if artists, educators and other people are engaging with the topic of blackness and freedom, then good will come of it for all society.”

The exhibition at Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum will feature new commissions by artists Emkay Adjei-Manu, Lillian Allen, Sydné Barnes-Wright, A. Decker, Damola Disu, Aljumaine Gayle and Janine Ilya. Each artist’s work tells a unique story that explores the multifaceted experiences of Blackness and freedom through historic and contemporary lenses.

Come experience the work and join us for conversations with the artists on March 25 & 26 from 12pm-3pm and a presentation by guest speaker Dr. Andrea A. Davis on March 25.

Featured artists, March 25

Featured artists, March 26


In addition, closed to the public, the Symposium takes place concurrently after hours at the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum. During that time, a small group of Black Studies scholars – Dr. Shaunasea Brown, Dr. Ronald Cummings, Dr. Yasmine Espert, Dr. Ferguson, Dr. Nataleah Hunter-Young, Dr. Johonna McCants-Turner and Dr. Ola Mohammed – have been invited to have a series of discussions to collectively reflect on blackness and freedom as expressed in the Art Exhibition and within their own areas of expertise.

Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae is the Principal Investigator of Black and Free research-creation project that brings together artists, academics, students and the following organizations: Citizen Brand; Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum; NOR: The design commons for Canada; Studio Otherness