x a y m a c a: a dialogue on African diaspora

x a y m a c a

land of wood and water
land of refugee and prosperity
shattered mirrors of history
displaced anger, displaced people
we are 'out of many one people'

- e

Sydné Barnes-Wright will be displaying new mixed media pieces at her pop-up show on Thursday, June 29th, 3-9pm and Friday, June 30th, 1-7pm at 789 Bathurst Street, Toronto. The show represents a beginning to her research and the influence her home country, Jamaica, has had on her work. Through her research she has come across facts, historical images and practises that have inspired her to start a conversation. She believes that the African diaspora from a Caribbean perspective it is a topic that needs more attention. Sydné has especially been inspired by the fieldwork of Katharine Dunham. Dunham was the owner of the first successful Negro ballet company while studying African diaspora and conveying the narrative through dance. With a background in fashion design, Sydné takes these influences and translates them through textiles and photography. At the exhibition, she will display collage work that represents the displacement of Black people whom are disconnected but still seen as one. The act of taking apart materials and placing them back together is how she connects with this phenomenon.

When Sydné moved from Kingston, Jamaica to Brampton, Ontario in 2003, she experienced her own form of diaspora. She shared a story of her pre-teen years when she learned what prejudice was after being discriminated against by other immigrant people of colour, not much unlike herself. It’s a culture shock when coming from a place where you're not taught to see your differences. However, the fact remains that Black people are likely to experience the same prejudice no matter their background or upbringing. As a displaced people, Black people can have potentially any cultural identity. The Jamaican in me would say, "the good always haffi suffer for the bad."

As a Jamaican, Sydné finds it hard to trace back information about herself and her people before colonialism. Slave trade records will show that most Jamaican slaves were purchased from the Akan region of West Africa, presently known as Ghana. However, that was after Jamaica was first colonized by the Spanish, was taken by the English and became independent in 1962. Jamaica's motto is "out of many one people" representing its diversity and acceptance of its history. The Jamaican people have done more than well in creating their own narrative and developing a rich culture but the strong African influences cannot be denied. Sydné intends to continue learning more about where she comes from through returning to Jamaica and completing further research through the people.  

If you're in the Toronto area you should stop by Sydné's pop-up on Thursday, June 29th, 3-9pm and Friday, June 30th, 1-7pm at 789 Bathurst Street, Toronto to see first hand how she conceptualizes her perspective on diaspora through mixed media.

Written by Monique Hoilett, @alifemag