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The Magazine Of Queen's University

2019 Issue 3

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Campus and community: Agnes artist-in-residence

Campus and community: Agnes artist-in-residence

[photo of artist Tau Lewis working with a student]
Tim Forbes

On the wall behind Ms. Lewis, a sign says, "Earth without art is just Eh."

In June, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre welcomed Tau Lewis as its 2018 Stonecroft Foundation Artist-in-Residence.

During her 13-week stay, Ms. Lewis, a Jamaican-Canadian artist, is teaming up with Kingston-based Roots and Wings, a grassroots community group that works towards making space for racialized girls in kingston.

Through Roots and Wings activities, girls are encouraged to explore their diverse identities and are provided with learning opportunities about social justice issues in a fun, engaging, and age-appropriate way. They are encouraged to teach and share their unique skills with ach other, as well as the larger community, through action on social justice issues.

“Getting to be a part of the Roots and Wings program was a great privilege for me,” Ms. Lewis says. “I always feel blessed to encounter children’s artworks and the process by which they create them, because you’ll rarely encounter a more honest kind of storytelling. I feel honoured to work with such a talented and diverse group of young women, and happy that i’m able to contribute o something that was crucial to me as a kid, and I think in some ways helped me to arrive to where I am now.”

The link between Ms. Lewis and Roots and Wings has a Queen’s connection – Ms. Lewis visited Queen’s in 2017 and was introduced to Yasmine Djerbal, a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies. Ms. Djerbal co-founded Roots and Wings, and this collaboration was formed from heir discussions. 

Ms. Djerbal says the collaboration was a wonderful experience for the girls.

“They were able to see and meet an artist that looked like them, that they could look up to, and maybe even aspire to become one day,” she says. “Our goal is to have our girls grow strong roots into our community and create lifelong connections to people and organizations from which they will learn about social justice, identity, and culture, and collaborating with Ms. Lewis really exemplified the work we want to do!”

The exhibition Tau Lewis: when last you found me here will be on view at the Agnes from Aug. 25 through to Dec. 2. Several programs are scheduled for the fall including an artist talk, two panel discussions on art and Black Canada, and an open workshop in which Ms. Lewis will introduce her practice, drawing connections between her material choices and the thematic concerns of her work. The Stonecroft artist-in-residence program is supported by the stonecroft Foundation for the Arts, the Queen’s Department of Gender Studies through Katherine McKittrick,the Queen’s Arts Fund – Visiting Artist in Residence, and the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Art) Program.

For more information on Ms. Lewis and her work, visit taulewis.com.

[cover graphic of Queen's Alumni Review, issue 3-2018]