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Kitchener exhibition explores Blackness and Freedom

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A two-day event highlighting work from twelve local Black artists and exploring the themes of Blackness and freedom is being held at the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum.

The Black and Free exhibition runs Saturday, March 25 to Sunday, March 26.

"Black and Free is a research creation project that I started in 2017 and we’re looking to bring together artists, academics, scholars and the general public to think about Blackness and freedom, to just have that conversation in its many complexities and ways," said Naila Keleta-Mae, Black and Free principal investigator. “Over the course of the weekend, we’ll be doing interviews with each artists to learn about their process, what they were creating, and to open up the space to audiences to ask questions as well.”

Attendees also have the opportunity to browse a pop-up market which features cultural food and clothing.

“We have a lot of vendors here who are sharing things that they’ve made themselves, as well as small businesses,” said Keleta-Mae. “We also have some community organizations here too who are just sharing some of the work that they do in the community. So you can come for the art, stay for the interviews, and do a little shopping.”

The event focuses on Black culture and history, but Keleta-Mae said it’s an exhibit for everyone to attend.

“Black and Free is for people who are curious, who are casual, and who are engages,” she said. “It has really been designed in all of our programming to think about being relevant to Black communities but to also connect with people who are concerned with these issues who don’t identify as Black.”

This is the first year the exhibit has run at the museum, but according to Keleta-Mae, it will be a multi-year partnership.

“We will be doing annual events here. The scope of the events, we’ll see, but Black and Free will be commissioning new artists every year to create new work.”

The final day of this year’s free event is Sunday, from noon to 3 p.m.

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