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.


Jae Jarrell (born and lives in Cleveland, OH, USA) is known for her fashion design and influential role within the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. She co-founded AFRICOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), whose goal was to understand and express the visual principals that define black culture. Jarrell’s ground-breaking wearable artworks interpret the core ideas of the group, ideas that she has developed into abstract, idiosyncratic methods of translating black positivity into fashion objects.

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