As We Rise presents an exciting compilation of photographs from African diasporic culture. With over one hundred works by Black artists from Canada, the Caribbean, Great Britain, the United States, South America, as well as throughout the African continent, this volume provides a timely exploration of Black identity on both sides of the Atlantic.
As Teju Cole describes in his preface, “Too often in the larger culture, we see images of Black people in attitudes of despair, pain, or brutal isolation. As We Rise gently refuses that. It is not that people are always in an attitude of celebration—no, that would be a reverse but corresponding falsehood—but rather that they are present as human beings, credible, fully engaged in their world.” Drawn from Dr. Kenneth Montague’s Wedge Collection in Toronto—a Black-owned collection dedicated to artists of African descent—As We Rise looks at the multifaceted ideas of Black life through the lenses of community, identity, and power. Artists such as Stan Douglas, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Barkley L. Hendricks, Texas Isaiah, Liz Johnson Artur, Seydou Keïta, Deana Lawson, Jamel Shabazz, and Carrie Mae Weems, touch on themes of agency, beauty, joy, belonging, subjectivity, and self-representation. Writings by Isolde Brielmaier, Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Mark Sealy, Teka Selman, and Deborah Willis among others provide insight and commentary on this monumental collection.
About the authors
Dr. Kenneth Montague started the Wedge Collection in 1997 to acquire and exhibit art that explores Black identity. In addition to the Wedge Collection, Montague founded Wedge Curatorial Projects, a nonprofit arts organization that helps to support emerging Black artists. A Toronto-based art collector, Montague has been a member of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s board of trustees since 2015. He has served on the African acquisitions committee at Tate Modern, London, and is an advisor to the Department of Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Teju Cole is a photographer, novelist, essayist, and curator. His photobook Blind Spot (2017) was shortlisted for the 2017 Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation Photo-Book Awards. His other books include the novel Open City (2011), winner of the 2012 PEN/Hemingway Award, and the photobooks Fernweh (2020) and Golden Apple of the Sun (2021). Cole’s photography has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions. He has been a visiting critic at the Yale School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut; and he was photography critic for the New York Times Magazine until 2019. He is currently a professor in the English department at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Dr. Mark Sealy is interested in the relationships between photography and social change, identity politics, race, and human rights. He has been director of Autograph ABP (Association of Black Photographers), UK, since 1991, and has produced numerous artist publications, curated exhibitions, and commissioned photographers and filmmakers worldwide. He curated the exhibition From Here to Eternity: Sunil Gupta. A Retrospective at the Photographers’ Gallery, London (2020), and Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto (2022); and he is author of the book Decolonising the Camera: Photography in Racial Time (2019). Sealy holds a PhD from Durham University, England, and currently serves as Principal Research Fellow Decolonising Photography at University of the Arts London.
Liz Ikiriko is a Tkaronto/Toronto-based, Nigerian Canadian artist and curator. She is curator of collections and contemporary engagement at the Art Gallery of York University, Toronto, and cocurator of the 13th Rencontres de Bamako/African Biennale of Photography, Mali (2022). Her most recent curatorial projects include Is Love a Synonym for Abolition? at Gallery 44, Toronto (2021); ___a lineage of transgression___ at ArtSpace Peterborough, Canada (2020); and The Break, The Wake, The Hold, The Breath at Circuit Gallery, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2019). Her writing has appeared in Public Journal, MICE Magazine, C Magazine, BlackFlash Magazine, and Akimbo. Ikiriko holds an MFA in criticism and curatorial practice from Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto.