Tyshan Wright: Maroon Town

Tyshan Wright, Myal II, 2022. Collection of the artist. Photo by Steve Farmer

Tyshan Wright: Maroon Town

Curated by Julie Hollenbach

September 23 – December 9, 2023
Reception & Performance: Wednesday, October 25, 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Artist Talk: Wednesday, November 8, 2:00pm – 3:30pm
MSVU Art Gallery, Halifax

Maroon Town is an immersive exhibition by Kjipuktuk (Halifax)-based artist Tyshan Wright. Following their forced exile after the Second Maroon War with the British, Jamaican Maroons were exiled to Mi’kma’ki and the British colony of Nova Scotia in 1796. Despite sustained resistance and protest, the majority of Maroons departed Nova Scotia centuries ago, however, many Maroon descendants still live in this province where the legacy of Maroon culture endures. In this exhibition, Tyshan Wright creates a staged Maroon house and settlement that includes expertly handcrafted iterations of the ceremonial and everyday domestic objects that Maroons were forced to leave behind in Jamaica, as well as those they use today. This staged settlement imagines Jamaican Maroons and Maroon life thriving across time and place. Maroon Town celebrates historic Maroon resilience and present-day acts of sovereignty that build a vibrant and connected tomorrow for Maroon descendants.

Over the course of the Maroon Town exhibition, Tyshan Wright will be enacting durational performances in the gallery, creating a Maroon home using an adapted wattle and daub building technology. The exhibition reception on October 25 will be a celebratory community event that centres a final performance by the artist and will also feature live music and refreshments. Please contact art.gallery@msvu.ca by October 18 with any access needs, requests, or inquiries.

For full programing details and to access the exhibition audio companion visit the exhibition webpage.

Tyshan Wright, Durational Performance, 2023. Photo by Steve Farmer.

About the Artist

Kjipuktuk (Halifax)-based artist Tyshan Wright works at the intersection of contemporary art and traditional Jamaican Maroon culture and craft. A descendant of Africans who evaded enslavement and created their own self-sustaining communities in the mountains of Jamaica in the 1600s, his work unites present with past narratives of Maroon experience in diaspora—from the Maroons’ origins in the Akan region of Ghana, to their resistance towards slavery in 17th century Jamaica, to the exile of more than 500 Maroons from Jamaica to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1796, and beyond. Wright examines the enduring cultural influence of the Trelawny Town Maroons’ time in Atlantic Canada, a region still home to many of their descendants. Using wood and natural forest products that exiled Maroons might have sourced locally to create their ceremonial instruments, he champions a resurgence of Maroon spirituality, language and material culture. A 2021-22 Artist-In-Residence Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery (NSCAD University), he was the Atlantic region nominee shortlisted for the 2022 Sobey Art Award (Sobey Art Foundation/National Gallery of Canada). His work has been presented in exhibitions and artist talks at Canadian galleries and museums including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Confederation Centre of the Arts, and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

About the Curator

Julie Hollenbach is queer, white-settler artist, curator, and cultural historian teaching craft histories and material cultures on unceded Mi’kmaq territory at NSCAD University. Her interdisciplinary scholarly, artistic, and curatorial work engages a queer, feminist, critical-race methodology to consider craft and material culture at the intersections of function and meaning, place and time, histories and communities, practice and tradition. Her writing has been published in popular press platforms such as Canadian Art, Studio Magazine, CRIT, and Visual Arts News, as well as scholarly publications including PUBLIC, The Journal of Modern Craft, Cahiers métiers d’art ::: Craft Journal, and Design and Culture. Her co-edited volume published in 2021, with Robin Alex McDonald titled Re/Imagining Depression: New Approaches to Feeling Bad harnesses critical theories to generate new paradigms for thinking about the depressive experience that centers the diversity of affects, embodiments, materiality, rituals, and behaviors that are often collapsed under the singular rubric of “depression.” She has curated and facilitated exhibitions and public programs at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, MSVU Art Gallery, CFAT, Union Gallery, the Mary E. Black Gallery, and the Anna Leonowens Gallery.

About MSVU Art Gallery

Opened in 1971, MSVU Art Gallery is dedicated to contemporary art with an emphasis on women as cultural subjects and producers. Exhibitions explore various forms and highlight the achievements of artists in all career phases. MSVU Art Gallery promotes critical access to its exhibitions through publications, lectures, and educational programs, recognizing socially engaged practices as models of aesthetic distinction and political imagination. Consistent with the principle that exhibition spaces are civic spaces, the Gallery is committed to normalizing accessible presentation practices throughout its public programs. Admission is always free.

MSVU Art Gallery respectfully acknowledges that the Gallery and Mount Saint Vincent University are situated on Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral, unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq.

MSVU Art Gallery
166 Bedford Hwy
Kjipuktuk/ Halifax, NS B3M 2J6

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Image descriptions:
1) A sculpture of two musical horns, made from cow horns. A larger horn on the right is connected to a smaller one on the left by a crocus bag, and decorated with black and red beads.
2) Tyshan Wright, who has dark skin and is wearing a black t-shirt and red and white beaded bracelets pulls a long narrow tree branch through perpendicularly through tall posts made of wider branches.
3) Logos for MSVU Art Gallery, Arts Nova Scotia, Halifax Regional Municipality and Canada Council for the Arts.