BAND: Karen Carter, Leyla Jeyte, Christina Leslie, and Jon Blak in Conversation
Hosted by Karen Carter of Karen Carter & Assoc. Cultural Consulting and co-founder of BAND Gallery, this conversation with Toronto-based photographers Leyla Jeyte, Christina Leslie, and Jon Blak will address Jeyte’s outdoor project if they saw me, i would live, and explore the importance of public art. Presented on the façade and fence of BAND Gallery, Jeyte’s series offers a glimpse into the lives of the people she encountered during her travels to Kisumu, Kenya.
Leyla Jeyte is a Somali-Canadian visual artist. She approaches her work with gentleness and nostalgia while aiming to create a quiet intimacy that deals with representation and inclusivity from a personal place. She holds a Master’s of Science in International Development and Management from Lund University in Sweden. In 2018, Leyla was selected to receive the Visual Artists Creation grant as an emerging artist from the Ontario Art Council (OAC). She also completed a residency and exhibition at the Robert Mclaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, ON. Leyla’s artistic perspective is shaped by her identity as a Black-African Muslim woman, and as an immigrant that has found home elsewhere.
Christina Leslie earned her BFA in 2006 at the OCADU in Toronto and is presently pursuing her MFA at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia USA. Her photographic works have been featured at several institutions, including; Famu in Prague (2009), The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto,ON (2010), The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON (2010), The Art Gallery of Windsor in Windsor, ON (2017), and The Glasgow Gallery of Photography in Glasgow, Scotland (2019). Her photographs have been featured in an extensive list of publications; most recently in the UK magazine MURZE Issue four and Issue Ten (2019 and 2020). In 2020, she showed her series Absence/Presence: Morant Bay at BAND Gallery as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography festival. Much of her photographic practice revolves around the themes of identity, immigration, issues of marginalization, memory, race and her west- Indian heritage. She often will encompass text and photo-collage in her work and use historical photographic applications to create her pieces.
Toronto-based photographer Jon Blak has worked as an artist and educational outreach mentor for over 10 years. Much of Blak’s work addresses racism, stereotypes, and role-modelling for young people. In his artistic practice, Blak’s images portray young artists, producers and musicians. His work reflects the changing contemporary cultural milieu in both Jamaica and Canada, and examines issues around class, race and cultural production to celebrate the impact of community. His practice includes hosting workshops for at-risk youth and group facilitations to create sustainable educational programs.
Karen Carter is a cultural sector executive who enjoys working in creative and educational environments. She has over 20 years of experience working and volunteering in a range of arts, culture and heritage settings in Toronto. Karen is the former Executive Director of Heritage Toronto, a City of Toronto agency responsible for the education and promotion of Toronto’s heritage. She is the founding Executive Director of Myseum of Toronto and co-founder and Director of Black Artists’ Network and Dialogue (BAND), the organization is dedicated to the promotion of Black artists in Canada and abroad. Karen’s most recent project CArt is a Caribbean Art Fair that launched January 2020 in Mandeville Jamaica. CArt is a contemporary art fair connecting artists from the Caribbean region to the international art world.