Richard Saltoun Gallery, New York, United States
02 May 2024 - 22 Jun 2024

Jan Wade, COLORED ENTRANCE, installation view, 2024.

Jan Wade, COLORED ENTRANCE, installation view, 2024.

Richard Saltoun Gallery New York presents its inaugural solo exhibition COLORED ENTRANCE, by African-Canadian artist Jan Wade (b. 1952), on view between 2 May – 22 June 2024 to coincide with New York Frieze Week. COLORED ENTRANCE will be Wade’s first solo exhibition in the United States, on the occasion of the acquisition of her work, Epiphany, by the National Gallery of Canada and her upcoming retrospective Soul Power opening at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario in June 2024. Previously touring from Vancouver Art Gallery (2022), this marked the first solo show by a Black woman artist in the museum’s ninety-year history.

Wade’s practice explores Black identity in a post-colonial landscape from a deeply personal perspective, drawing from her heritage, African diasporic spiritual practices, and the history of Southern Slave Cultures. She was born in 1952 in Hamilton, Ontario, to a Black Canadian father with familial origins in the American South and a Canadian mother of European descent. Raised in a relatively segregated but close-knit community, Wade’s formative years were heavily influenced by her local African Methodist Episcopal Church, Southern African-American culture and aesthetics from the perspectives of her paternal grandmother and great-grandmother. Although it stems from personal experience, Wade’s work seeks to articulate a new understanding of her ancestors’ traumas and the discrimination they themselves suffered.

Highlights will include a new iteration of Wade’s most iconic work Epiphany (1994-), an installation comprising crosses made of found pieces of wood and embellished with thrift store finds and objects connected African-American culture, acting as a monument to cultural survival and perseverance. Exhibited at the 1st Johannesburg Biennale AFRICUS (1995), and included in Wade’s touring retrospective Soul Power, this will be the first time Epiphany is shown in the USA. A previous iteration of this work has recently been acquired by the National Gallery of Canada for their permanent collection.

Also on view will be a new series of Wade’s ongoing Memory Jugs, which she was inspired to make after seeing an archival photograph of memory jugs placed on Slave cemeteries in the American South. These funerary vessels were traditionally adorned with fragments-broken china, glass shards-and items beloved by the departed. Unlike historical memory jugs, Wade’s pieces incorporate text as well as imagery in addition to found objects, rooted in the oral traditions of her African Methodist church. These vessels will be exhibited alongside early paintings such as Mama Story (1996), and Women Cometh Forth Like a Flower (1995) which illustrate Wade’s enduring focus on the matriarchy of her family.

The show will also feature works from Wade’s decade-long project Breathe (2004-2022), a series of 70 embroidered canvases in abstract patterns that are informed by traditional Southern American, Gee Bend quilting techniques, and dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement. The series is titled after the last words of Eric Garner, who was killed in a prohibited chokehold by a police officer in 2014. The repetition echoes the relentless recirculation of the spectacle of Garner’s death, which was captured on video, pointing to the ongoing pattern of injustice and anti-Blackness.

Additionally on view will be Wade’s pastel-coloured skull drawings titled Boneheads (2001-), which evolved out of her interest in both the iconographies of the African Methodist church and the Cuban diasporic religion of Santería, delving into universal themes such as death and grief alongside poignant contemporary issues around environmental and racial politics.




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