Jan Wade’s art is strongly influenced by the Black church and Southern United States Black aesthetics, which were central to her early upbringing in Hamilton, Ontario, under the care of her paternal African American grandmother and great-grandmother. In her work, Wade often focuses on crosses, altarpieces, shrines, and memory jugs—vessels of faith, worship, and remembrance. Church and State was originally made in 1990 and was more recently altered by Wade. Her transformation process for these types of works involves removing all the decorative objects and rebuilding the work out of both old and new items. “My first and most profound artistic influence was the Southern Black aesthetics of my childhood,” explains Wade. “Nothing went to waste…found objects, fabrics, and materials were all used and reused in daily life.”
Jan Wade: Soul Power
Jan Wade, Church and State, 1990–2020
Wood, metal, plastic, shell, found objects, paint, 173 x 84.5 x 15 cm, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, General Acquisition Fund. Photo credit: Ian Lefebvre, Vancouver Art Gallery.