After three decades spent on the fringe of the cultural mainstream, Hamilton-born, Vancouver-based artist Jan Wade (b.1952) is receiving overdue acknowledgement for her unique contributions to Canadian art. Jan Wade: Soul Power—the landmark first solo exhibition by a Black woman in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s ninety-year history—presents the artist’s mixed-media assemblages, paintings, textiles, and sculptural objects from the 1990s to the present day. Central to Wade’s practice is the idea of political, spiritual, and social transformation. She vividly expresses this in a material sense through her repurposing of thrifted bric-a-brac, such as antique buttons, Scrabble tiles, and horseshoe charms. Her bold aesthetic is informed by her personal history as an African Canadian woman of mixed cultural heritage, with close ties to the American South, the Church, and jazz and blues music. Like visual poems, Wade’s works are richly layered with meaning, with every detail offering a profound story.
Visit this link to purchase a copy of the exhibition publication Jan Wade: Soul Power.
This online exhibition has been made possible through a partnership with the Vancouver Art Gallery, which organized the exhibition Jan Wade: Soul Power, on view from July 10, 2021 to March 13, 2022. Jan Wade: Soul Power is curated by Siobhan McCracken Nixon, Assistant Curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Nixon’s recent exhibition projects include Where do we go from here?; Transits and Returns; Mowry Baden; and Dana Claxton: Fringing the Cube. Previously she worked as Assistant Curator at the Hayward Gallery (London, UK) where she organized exhibitions including Alternative Guide to the Universe; Art of Change: New Directions from China; Pipilotti Rist: Eyeball Massage; Move: Choreographing You; Annette Messager: The Messengers; and Psycho Buildings: Artists Take on Architecture. She previously worked in Exhibitions and Displays at Tate Britain (London, UK).
Banner image credit: Jan Wade, Spirit House (detail), 2021, courtesy of Jan Wade. Photo credit: Ian Lefebvre, Vancouver Art Gallery.
Artist image credit: Jan Wade, 2022, photograph by Thelonius Mthombeni.