Black artist takes dance from her living room to the gallery

P.E.I. dancer Reequal Smith says she hopes people make their own personal interpretation of her art. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)
P.E.I. dancer Reequal Smith says she hopes people make their own personal interpretation of her art. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)

She may have to move a coffee table to be careful not to knock over a lamp, but Reequal Smith doesn't have to go far to find a place to dance.

Her living room, she says, is where much of her art originates.

That explains the four, life-sized silhouettes in different dance poses at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, part of an exhibit called While Black: a forum for speculation on what the gallery can't hold.

"It's just me basically dancing in my living room that I do on a regular basis for my creation process," said Smith, the artistic director and founder of Oshun Dance Studios in Charlottetown.

"I think it could be very relatable to a lot of people so I just hope they enjoy it."

Jane Robertson/CBC
Jane Robertson/CBC

The multimedia exhibit, featuring 10 Black artists, is deliberately set up like a mock apartment, said Charles Campbell, adjunct curator at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery.

A lot of the culture happens in our living rooms, in our kitchens, in our bedrooms so we're kind of pointing to that. — Charles Campbell

"There aren't a lot of spaces, so a lot of the culture happens in our living rooms, in our kitchens, in our bedrooms so we're kind of pointing to that."

The idea for the exhibit was conceived in 2020 during the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement. Campbell said he hopes it gives people an "interesting window into all the complicated nature of Black life and Black cultural production" — everything from politics, to family connections, individuality and the long history of slavery.

"I think it's an excellent opportunity for some people to come and kind of get a sense of how complicated it all is, and beautiful."

Jane Robertson/CBC
Jane Robertson/CBC

Smith calls it a "historical moment" for P.E.I. Though she has performed in multiple shows on P.E.I. and in the Bahamas, where she was raised, it's her first time being part of an art exhibit.

She invites people who view her display to make their own personal interpretation, and enjoy the works of all the other Black artists.

"I hope it just blows their minds away and, you know, they take everything in."

The exhibit runs until March 5.