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Inspired by the removal and revival of Hogan’s Alley, Vancouver British Columbia’s historic Black neighborhood, demolished circa 1971. This particular community of Black people were citizens of San Francisco. They were forced out of the City of San Francisco due to the Anti-Negro Immigration of 1858. It became an Exodus of Black people migrating en masse from San Francisco into Victoria, British Columbia, on the 17th of April 1858. The Black migrants had stayed in what is now recognized as Gastown, Strathcona and Chinatown. The Black community had permanently established itself in the area by 1923, When the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel was founded. The Black people had settled there due to the proximity to the Great Northern Way Railway Station nearby, where many Black men in the community worked as porters. The City of Vancouver also had a part in concentrating it’s Black citizens to the particular area by discriminating them from ever living anywhere else in the city. Thus, it was known to everyone as Black Strathcona. At the heart, was Hogan’s Alley. The year of 1967 was when the City of Vancouver decided to start leveling the western half of Hogan’s Alley, now known as Georgia street. In order to construct a freeway ie. Georgia Viaducts, spelling the end of the distinct and Hogan’s Alley. By 1971 the neighborhood was no more.
Black people consistently are being transplanted from place to place throughout history. Over 200 Black people fled by ship, taking several weeks to reach Victoria, Canada. Once again, they are journeying in ships made of wood, like the slaves ships we were brought here in. Through this, he feels he is making conscious choices in materials becoming signifiers, that depict or symbolize parts of history. He has a certain relationship to wood in his work, He has always been fascinated by it’s tactility; where we live, we use it for our own selfish needs knowing the indigenous west was colonized for it, to then have the land stripped of its most precious natural resources, as well the Indigenous peoples way of life. Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby” comes to mind. Particularly for its use of refined sugar as a homage to the unpaid and overworked Black Artisans. The paradox for him as an African Canadian artist, but also as a Black person is that Black people were brought here in slave ships. Vessels wholly consisted of wood, while also being forced into slave labour, building the west up with the same material we were brought here in. I use wood as a presentation and as a symbolic component; He says that he is physically here because of this material, and that he is now presenting it in an artwork to confront its history.