Disrupting the boundaries between sculpture and fashion, Jarrell’s wearable artworks merge Black liberation politics with art and design. In 1969, she made what eventually became one of her best known works: Revolutionary Suit. Constructed of grey tweed, the suit featured a bright yellow suede bandolier (bullet belt), its slots filled with brightly coloured wooden pegs or pastels—ammunition for creation, or for revolution. Jarrell began working professionally on Chicago’s South Side in the early 1960s and is a co-founder of the influential AFRICOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), whose works sought to convey the power and pride of Black communities. This installation gathers sculptures, garments, and archival material representing nearly fifty years of radical practice.

Jarrell’s work is co-presented by AGYU and the Toronto Biennial of Art. 

Additional work by Jae Jarrell is on view at 259 Lake Shore Blvd E.


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

Art Gallery of York University (AGYU)

Prior to colonization, the York University Keele Campus' footprint was part of the tableland forests and valley lands between Oak Ridges Moraine and Lake Ontario. Land along Black Creek was home to a significant Haudenosaunee village and later the Anishinaabe. In 1805, the boundary of the 1787 so-called Toronto Purchase was surreptitiously extended north to include what is now York’s campus. Built in 1962 on 465 acres of parcelled land earmarked for subsidized housing developments, York’s campus buried 15 tributary streams of Black Creek, while preserving four secondary-growth woodlots.

8 Accolade East Building, York University, 4700 Keele Street
Toronto ON
M3J 1P3