There are no parts

Nydia Blas, Widline Cadet, Jasmine Clarke, Michèle Pearson Clarke

May 9–June 26 2022
Curated by Letticia Cosbert Miller

Part five of Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter lightbox series

Jasmine Clarke, Watermelon Swimsuit, 2019. Courtesy the artist.

This exhibition brings together artists Nydia Blas, Widline Cadet, Jasmine Clarke, and Michèle Pearson Clarke, who each explore the complexity of Black girlhood through photography.

Here, girlhood is understood not merely as a temporal encounter, but as a framework through which we, regardless of age and gender, are able to engage with the meanings and lives of Black girls. Girlhood is a liberatory and creative space in which one is continually being and becoming, acquiring knowledge of self, and seeking practical ways of coping with and resisting cultural constraints and expectations. From the mundane to the magnificent, Black girls are responding to representations of and attitudes towards class, gender, race, ability, and sexuality. This exhibition displays those responses–the devices, gestures, and embellishments by which Black girls manifest their ideas and create their own, new images of self.

There are no parts honours the interdependence of the lives of girls and women, while recognizing them as distinct experiences. Historically, the designation of girlhood specifically and childhood in general was a privilege limited to particular social classes, and as such there are many Black girls who have become footnotes or are otherwise absent from images, records, and movements which they created, participated in, or resisted. The images presented here flaunt Black girls and girlhood as playful, powerful, forlorn, and fly, each created by a Black woman summoning her own childhood or someone near to her. The artists as well as their images are diasporically-oriented, gazing beyond a North American context towards the southern Black Atlantic, specifically Senegal, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Haiti.

The title There are no parts references a poem by Jamaican American poet June Jordan, who wrote extensively about her girlhood and its defining characteristics, and the exhibition itself is influenced greatly by the work of M. Jacqui Alexander, Trinidadian scholar and activist, whose analysis of girlhood requests an “intentional remembering,” that is, building a living memory that has little to do with living in the past and more with creating a relationship to time and its purpose. This exhibition demonstrates that girlhood is neither linear nor chronological, each image commemorating all that could neither be achieved nor contained in the defined domain of girlhood, and conveys that there is no part that can be separated from the whole.

—Letticia Cosbert Miller

Visit the Blackwood website for the full curatorial statement, artist bios, documentation, and resources. Parallel programs and interpretative video tours with Educator-in-Residence Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan will be released throughout the series.

Respondent Program

Across the six-part lightbox series Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter, each curator activates a Respondent Program that brings a practitioner into dialogue with an image set. The Blackwood is pleased to welcome writer Yaniya Lee to create a response to the exhibition.

Attunement Sessions

Facilitated by Educator-in-Residence Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan, six interdisciplinary practitioners have been invited to develop an Attunement Session that responds to an image set with prompts that challenge viewers to open new ways of understanding what we see. Each of these sessions offer pedagogic tools to assist audiences with “tuning-in” by means of embodiment, perception, texture, joy, meditation, encounter, touch, intimacy, sound, intuition, or other senses. For the fifth session, dancer and artist Justine A. Chambers will create a series of kinaesthetic echoes in response to There are no parts.

Visit the Blackwood Gallery website for responses and educational resources throughout Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter.

About Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter
A six-part lightbox series

September 13, 2021–August 28, 2022

Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid

Artists: Golnar Adili, Asinnajaq & Camille Georgeson-Usher, Nydia Blas, Widline Cadet, Michèle Pearson Clarke, Jasmine Clarke, Azadeh Elmizadeh, Ali Eyal, Emily Jacir, Jenny Lin, Morris Lum, Sydney Frances Pickering, Walid Raad, Zineb Sedira, Ayesha Singh, and more to be announced.

Curatorial Consortium: Amin Alsaden, Noor Bhangu, Letticia Cosbert Miller, Ronald Rose-Antoinette, Becca Taylor, Ellyn Walker

Educator-in-Residence: Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan

Over the course of spring-summer 2021, a group of independent curators met during a series of working sessions to curate a public lightbox program on the UTM campus for the 2021–2022 academic year. The Curatorial Consortium fosters a unique connective and dialogical space in which to hold commonalities, in an effort to think together through negotiating differences. The resulting program, Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter, responds to this exercise in collaborative composition while honouring the independent thinking that makes group work possible—at a moment when the need to protect independent thought and academic freedom (within and beyond the university) is both palpable and deeply urgent.

For the full curatorial statement, please visit the Blackwood website.

The Blackwood gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the University of Toronto Mississauga. We would also like to acknowledge the support of the University of Toronto affinity partners: Manulife, MBNA, and TD Insurance.

The Blackwood
University of Toronto Mississauga
3359 Mississauga Rd.
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6
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Please note: The Blackwood’s gallery spaces are currently closed to the public. Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter is FREE and open to the public, and accessible 24 hours a day in four outdoor lightboxes across UTM campus. Some movement throughout the campus is required—ramps and curb cuts are in place.

Please respect social distancing protocols while on campus.

Image descriptions: 1) An image of the artist’s 13 year old sister Olivia on a family trip to Senegal. In a sparsely decorated room Olivia sits on a bed, spread with a wrinkled sheet and a single pillow, as the sun pours in and illuminates her face. 2) An empty lightbox on UTM campus is photographed at dusk. The oversized, horizontal-format lightbox hangs on a concrete wall along a walkway, with a courtyard in the background.