Art exhibit for Emancipation Day up at Town Hall

·3 min read

A limited time art exhibit in recognition of Emancipation Day (Aug. 1) is on display at the Shelburne Town Hall.

The Dufferin County Canadian Black Association (DCCBA) unveiled the nine-piece art display, located in the main entrance of Shelburne Town Hall, on Tuesday (Aug. 2).

“We have this beautiful display here showcasing the rich culture and diversity right here in Dufferin County,” said Alethia O’Hara Stephenson, DCCBA founder and president. “It is powerfully humbling to have the display here in Town Hall. Just to think that, as a black organization, we’re able to have black art in a historically white space – it is humbling and we’re very grateful to the town.”

The art show has been called Freedom, and ties directly into Emancipation Day.

“Freedom coincides with the abolishment of slavery, we want to not erase history, but take the focus away from the negative aspects of slavery and talk about the journey forward,” said O’Hara Stephenson. “When we think about freedom it allows you the opportunity to think outside the box and come up with creative ideas to be able to transform the community, the country so that not just the black community, but the entire country can work together to solve some of the systemic problems that still permeates our society today.”

The display consists of work from Shelburne local artists Dave Ellington and Emily Campbell.

Campbell’s piece, ‘Tranquility’ depicts a hummingbird, which is the national bird of Jamaica, collecting nectar from two flowers.

“What inspired me was that the hummingbird represents freedom, tranquility, beauty, nature and history,” explained Campbell.

“I look at the fact that you don’t give up trying even when there are challenges around you, you continue pushing forward.”

For his part in the art show, Ellington has provided eight of his original pieces including works ‘Behind the Wall’ and ‘A Journey Home’.

“I hope it moves the community to want to put paint to canvas and I hope a lot of young kids say ‘if she can do it, maybe I can’, and express themselves through paint,” said Ellington. “There’s so many colors in this world and it’s a shame that instead of us using it to divide, it should just unify.”

The Town of Shelburne first proclaimed Emancipation Day in the community last year. Shelburne Town Council officially proclaimed Emancipation Day again this year during their July 25 meeting.

Speaking to the proclamation and the art display at Town Hall, O’Hara Stephenson said, “It shows the journey that we’ve been on and the journey that we continue on to make sure that we’re looking at reparations, making amend with our paths, but also looking at the journey ahead and what steps we still need to take to make sure that our community continues to be inclusive.”

The art show in recognition of Emancipation Day will remain on display at Shelburne Town Hall until Aug. 12.

Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press

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