Disrupting the hierarchy between art and fashion, Jarrell’s wearable artworks merge Black liberation politics and art. After producing her debut collection in 1963, Jarrell went on to co-found the influential art collective AFRICOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) in 1968. Her best known works include Revolutionary Suit (1969)—a garment for protest and revolution—and Urban Wall Suit, which incorporated prints of street posters and graffiti—“the symbol[s] of the message boards of the community.” Aesthetics inform ideas of cultural revolution in Jarrell’s newest conceptual garment, Ornaments of Reflection, which implies designs for radically new conceptions of race and identity.

A related exhibition of Jarrell’s work at the AGYU is co-presented by AGYU and the Toronto Biennial of Art, and curated by Tairone Bastein and Candice Hopkins. For more information, please visit agyu.art.

Bio

Jae Jarrell (born in 1935, Cleveland, USA) is a sculptor, painter and fashion designer. Jae became involved in the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC) in the mid-1960sin her boutique on the south side of Chicago, which created the Wall of Respect mural in 1967. With her husband Wadsworth Jarrell, Jae opened a small gallery below their home and studio, which hosted live jazz, exhibitions, and many early meetings of the Black artist collective later known as AFRICOBRA. Jae created groundbreaking wearable artworks that interpreted the ideas of the group, as well as developed methods of translating Black positivity into fashion.

Exhibition Site

259 Lake Shore Blvd East

The life of this nondescript building reveals the area’s economic history. Its first tenant in 1945, the Standard Chemical Company, produced methanol, formaldehyde, and charcoal. A railway line to the south tethered the site to the movement of goods. By 1954, the building was divided into a warehouse and a showroom, a configuration that remained intact over the course of various leaseholders, including oil and electrical supply companies and a series of car dealerships. (The advertising of its most recent tenant, Volvo, is still visible on the façade.) This building’s fate is indeterminate, as real estate development is increasingly filling the voids left by industrial decline.

259 Lake Shore Blvd East
Toronto ON
M5A 3T7