Black Art at Night: Jade Byard Peek

I'thandi Munro
Posted on February 23rd, 2021
by I'thandi Munro

It's me, I'thandi, and I am back to highlight Jade Byard Peek–an artist and activist who is making a serious impact across so many communities. She is doing a ton of much-needed work, and you should follow and read everything she has ever put out into the universe!

Jade Byard Peek is Afro-L’nu educator, curator, and artist originally from Kjipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki. She is a multi-disciplinary artist, performer, and community activist. Peek's work links social pedagogy with historical nuance. She has been a panelist and guest speaker in universities and conferences across Canada focusing on African Nova Scotian and Indigenous Methodologies, Epistemologies, and Intersectional Praxis. She studied Art History at NSCAD University and was the Executive Representative of SUNSCAD. Peek worked with the Canadian Standard Association for the development of a Psychological Health and Safety for Post-Secondary Students as well as lead and co-developed a tool-kit for combating anti-Black racism for student unions during her tenure as Deputy Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students. Currently, she is the Director of Advocacy and Community Care at Kind Space in Ottawa.

Peek's work encompasses many things at once and activates spaces that enable anti-oppressive conversations that result in change. She was recently published in Canadian Art magazine with their piece Is There A Credible Future For "The Last Art College" about NSCAD’s Board of Governors removal of Aoife Mac Namara as president and how that decision broke the trust of many in the local and national community—especially BIPOC artists and advocates. She was also featured on the cover of The Coast, Halifax's Weekly in their New Art issue which spoke about Peek's curatorial work in We are Griots which she curated at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in 2017. The exhibition featured works by Peek and collaborators Michael Davies-Cole and Bria Miller. The focus was on Black experiences framed by Afro-Indigenous histories. It was the first exhibition of solely Afro-Indigenous artists in Kjipuktuk/Halifax since the 1990s. You should also check out their work with Trans-Fest and Black Lit!

BIPOC Bus: Our Movement
BIPOC Bus: Our Movement

This same year, they collaborated with artist Camila Salcedo to create BIPOC Bus: Our Movement during Nocturne 2017: VANISH, curated by Anna Sprague and Emily Lawrence. In this interactive performance and party installation, Jade Byard-Peek and a group of performers danced inside of a decorated party bus as a means of rewriting and honouring important uncelebrated histories. Contemporary performance artists, actors, and collaborators took on various personas and embodied different underrepresented QTBIPOC and POC Canadian historical figures. This act represented the cyclical epistemology of time, remembrance, and storytelling that comes from many Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Colour and their ways of honouring and healing.

Instagram post from @Jadethediva about the BIPOC Bus featuring collaborators and performers

You can find her on instagram at @jadethediva and Twitter at @KweJade.