Yaniya Lee

Yaniya Lee

PhD Student

Gender Studies

People Directory Affiliation Category

Supervisor: Katherine McKittrick
Research interests: Black Canadian Art, Art history, Aesthetics, Black studies

This PhD project "Liberatory Aesthetics: Community, Archives, Activism and the matter of Black Canadian art"  builds on the research I began with my Master's thesis, "When and Where We Enter: Situating the Absented Presence of Black Canadian Art." I observe and build on the methodological and aesthetic practices of Black Canadian artists and think through how their creative works elicit new or different understandings of Black Canada.
My preliminary research in the area of Black Canadian art has revealed an intricate and coherent narrative of creative practices across the nation, one that notices how Black artists grapple with exclusion and racism, while also aesthetically attending to diasporic belonging. More specifically, my research has shown how Black art and visual practices work through and exist outside of colonial structures such as the gallery, the museum and other sites of curated procurement.
I see Black creative practices as illuminating unique methodologies and aesthetics that are invested in shaping narratives of liberation that do not rely on Black victimhood. My research program will track these narratives of liberation across the nation in order to provide a critical archive that recognizes otherwise hidden Black Canadian art histories and, at the same time, acknowledges how Black Canadian artists are producing creative works that are, perhaps, not intended for celebratory curation.
I have written about art for museums and galleries across Canada, as well as for international publications including Art in America, Vogue, Flash, FADER, Vulture, VICE Motherboard, Chatelaine, Canadian Art and C Magazine. I've lectured at universities and led writing workshops at galleries and non-profits, most recently at de Appel Amsterdam, the Dutch Art Institute, the Eindhoven Design Academy, the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts at the California College of the Arts, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Momus.  I have adjudicated many awards and prizes and have been on the organizing committees for several conferences, symposiums, and public events. I was an editor at Canadian Art magazine from 2017-2021 and I started editing for Archive books in 2021.
This year I have been organizing the monthly event series what it looks like is good enough with Archive books Berlin, where I invite artists and writers to engage in conversations about black and anti-colonial praxis by sharing their current work and the ongoing ways in which they navigate the assumptions, violences and extractive imperatives of the present world order.
I am now working on a longer piece of fiction writing for the first time. Provisionally titled The Black Artist, the story is a satirical portrait of race in the art world.
Recent writing includes:
Jan Wade: Soul Power, exhibition catalogue review
RACAR: Canadian Art Review , 2022, Vol. 47, No. 2, For the preservation of Black diasporic visual histories (2022), pp. 124-126
Private Archives: Jorian Charlton at Gallery TPW
Art in America, 2021

Unrequited Love: June Clark Profile
Canadian Art, 2021
Excesses and Refusals: guest editors' introduction to Chroma, an issue dedicated to Black art in Canada (With Denise Ryner)
Canadian Art, 2020
Glitch and Figure: representation and refusal in the videos of Buseje Bailey and ariella tai
Vtape.org, 2020
Group Theory: Black queer organizing in the 1980s and '90s in Toronto
Canadian Art Magazine, 2019
"On Fire: Notes on the Spread of a Non-deterministic Schema" (with Rosa Aiello)
Public (Toronto), 2018, Vol.29 (58), p.169-177
When and Where We Enter: Situating the Absented Presence of Black Canadian Art
MA dissertation, 2019