Black Art at Night: Kate Macdonald

I'thandi Munro
Posted on February 27th, 2021
by I'thandi Munro

It's me, I'thandi, and I'm back with my final blog post for Black Art At Night. Today we are highlighting Kate Macdonald. Kate is a multidisciplinary artist who uses photography, performance, movement, activism, and engagement within her practice. Kate went to highschool at QEH and I first remember meeting her there–on the basketball court. We played for different schools but often guarded each other. I knew that we were playing her team it was going to be a good game–it would be both challenging and tough, and I knew she would put up a fight to win. This winning mentality continues today in everything she does.

After studying Performance Acting at Ryerson University in Toronto, she came back home to Kjipuktuk/Halifax and started acting for Studio Black; created by Picture Plant and producers Terry Greenlaw and William D. MacGillivray, and Cory Bowles. They strived to tell stories collected from rural and urban Black Communities in 1920’s Nova Scotia to highlight the community's history that was not known or had been talked about in the media. Macdonald went on to immerse herself in conversations around marginalized communities and co-created The Magic Project; their aim was to bring marginalized communities to the forefront of popular culture using art and photography.

Macdonald has also worked as a facilitator and youth programmer for various organizations such as RISE, Apathy is Boring, The Youth Project, and IMOVe. She is currently the Manager for the Halifax North Memorial Public Library. Growing up as an adopted person of African descent with white parents this library holds special place for her in her search for connection and identity to the Black Community. Kate believes that "the youth voice comes first" and that "we are here to amplify and support them so they can build a future reflective of their own identities and experiences.” This past fall, The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia invited Macdonald to participate in their series In Conversation. She led a conversation between herself, her partner Kordeena Clayton and me, I'thandi Munro in Black-Women-Connected based on the issues of black women not being present or archived in the formal gallery space working towards long-term and active ways to address this for the institution.

During the resurgence of the BLM Movement in the summer of 2020 Macdonald co-launched Game Changers 902 alongside DeRico Symonds, and Trayvon Clayton. They work to counteract racial inequalities & create a balanced & equitable approach in the game of life for marginalized peoples. Together they have been active and continue holding space for community discussion, assembling working groups of white allies, holding multiple BLM marches and rallies all across Nova Scotia, and mobilized this community. The never-ending work they do to animate and ignite the solidarity we need in such a rich place of Blackness in Canada is truly amazing.

She often writes about her personal life and her work in The Nova Scotia Advocate.

In her own words:

My work sparks conversation and self-reflection around ways we contribute and are a part of the colonial, capitalist, racist, and oppressive systems and how we examine these systems, pull apart, and dream of more for all of us. I have been thinking a lot about how to move forward and sinking my teeth into new learnings and different practices in order to support my own evolution.

For Nocturne, Macondald has been engaged in many ways. She is an active member of the Programming Committee and has participated in the festival multiple times. She was a performer for The BIPOC BUS : Our Movement, a project created by Jade Byard Peek and Camilia Salcedo for Nocturne 2017: VANISH, curated by Anna Sprague and Emily Lawrence.

BIPOC BUS: Our Movement
Kate MAcdonald Performing in BIPOC BUS: Our Movement during Nocturne 2017: Vanish Photo by Topher And Rae Studios

She presented On Their Shoulders... for Nocturne 2018: Nomadic Reciprocity, curated by Raven Davis where she displayed projections of ancestral/historical pictures and videos of African Nova Scotian women, layered with select cultural music and audio.

On Their Shoulders...
Kate Maondald Performing in On Their Shoulders... During Nocturne 2018: Nomadic Reciprocity Photo By Topher and Rae

Macdonald collaborated with, Kordeena Clayton on the project, 33, for Nocturne 2019: Scaffold, curated by Tori Fleming which explored a spiritual, dimensional, and physical connection through abstract photography.

Kate Macdonald and Kordeena Clayton's project, 33, during Nocturne 2019: Scaffold Photos By Kylee Nunn

In 2020 she participated in Nocturne: Echolocation curated by Lindsay Dobbin by offering an Anti-Oppression workshop. Anti-Racism in Real-Time was held live on our Facebook which you can still watch today.

Anti-Racism in Real-Time
Still from online Anti-Racism by Kate MacDonald workshop held at Nocturne 2020:Echolocation

We will leave off with Kate's words:

The dream is one day to not have to take the streets for injustice and state-sanctioned murder. It’s a dream. Truly. A place we must believe in so deeply that we feel it in our every fiber. That’s a lot of hope and a lot of faith. This activist shit is almost like a religion, not organized but a practice you have to commit to and recommit to and lose your way on the path and then find a new path with deeper understanding. Shit’s hard.

You can find her pretty much everywhere but here are some links to help you out!

Instagram @kaymackd

Facebook @kate.macdonald

Twitter @902_katemac