To Curate or Create
It's hard to believe that it's been 28 years since I took a serious jab at curating some shows. This was at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre during the Celebrating African Identity Festival (CELAFI). An art extravaganza that happened in conjunction with the United States based National Conference of Artists. It was held in the summer of 1992.
It was a huge undertaking that involved many moving parts. But thanks to the hard work of many dedicated people (most of whom worked for paltry sums) led by Ayanna Black -- it came to fruition. The stresses and challenges of the time are not forgotten. The fact that during the next round leading up to the 1997 festival, I chose to participate only as an artist, testifies to the challenges of curating. What stays with me most is the memory of working with several wonderful artists including Magdalena Campos Pons, Michael Chambers, Sharon Farmer, Armet Francis, and Reginald Jackson, and Kok Nam to name a few. Its also marks the first time that I had the pleasure of programming at Gallery 44 and The Toronto Photographers Workshop.
For me, making art is a more satisfying endeavour compared to curating art. But it could be argued that curating is an art form in and of itself. The curator must make associations and evaluations where previously none were seen. The curator is tasked with shining a light on art that
may have been hidden--important functions. It's encouraging to see many more Black professional curators than there was a generation ago.