A street-facing art installation in tribute to Breonna Taylor and Black womanhood has been unveiled at Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Vancouver campus.
The 240 sq ft piece, titled un/settled, can be found on the windows of Belzberg Library, at the intersection of West Hastings and Richards Street.
un/settled features poetry by Otoniya J. Okot Bitek and portraiture by Chantal Gibson, in collaboration with Mily Mumford and Adrian Bisek. Okot Bitek is the 2020 Ellen and Warren Tallman Writer-in-Residence with SFU’s Department of English while Gibson is an award-winning writer and artist, as well as a lecturer at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology.
“It centres Blackness — an identity often erased or maligned — in a hypervisible fashion that celebrates Black thought, creativity and joy while situated in the ongoing systematic violence against Black people, Indigenous people, and people of colour,” reads a release from SFU.
Okot Bitek adds that un/settled is about the “inability to settle because of the systems that oppress and alienate people” and a reminder that “some people cannot be seen to be of these lands.”
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Ebony Magnus, head of SFU’s Belzberg Library, also says that the piece is a rare opportunity to “reimagine the role of a library” and further engage with the community in a meaningful way.
The installation was created while the library’s physical space was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and it will remain on display until May 31, 2021. Gibson and Okot Bitek will also be speaking publicly about their collaboration at two upcoming Black History Month events.