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Agnes artist-in-residence brings in the community

During her residency, Tau Lewis has spent time with pre-teen girls to help them explore their identity. 

[Tau Lewis artist-in-residence Agnes Etherington Art Centre Queen's]
Tau Lewis, the Agnes' 2018 Stonecroft Foundation Artist-in-Residence, is working out of Ontario Hall this summer. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre is welcoming a Jamaican-Canadian artist to campus this summer.

Tau Lewis is the Agnes’s 2018 Stonecroft Foundation Artist-in-Residence. During her thirteen-week stay, which started in June and ends in September, Ms. Lewis 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 each 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 to 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, along with various other community members including Lulama Kotze and Michelle LaMarche, co-founded Roots and Wings, and this collaboration was formed from their discussions.

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

  • [tau lewis queen's university agnes etherington art centre artist-in-residence workshop]
    A group of local pre-teen girls were invited to participate in a workshop with Tau Lewis, the 2018 Stonecroft Foundation Artist-in-Residence at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [tau lewis queen's university agnes etherington art centre artist-in-residence workshop]
    The workshop was offered in partnership with Roots and Wings, a grassroots community group that works towards making space for racialized girls in Kingston. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [tau lewis queen's university agnes etherington art centre artist-in-residence workshop]
    On the wall behind Ms. Lewis, a sign says, "Earth without art is just Eh". (Photo by Tim Forbes)

“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: New Work will be on view at the Agnes from August 25 through to December 2. Several programs are scheduled for fall including an artist talk; two star-studded panel discussions on Art and Black Canada; and an open workshop where 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 generously supported by the Stonecroft Foundation for the Arts, the Queen’s University 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 http://www.taulewis.com.