Stitched Stories: The Family Quilts

2 September – 27 November, 2016

Shauntay Grant at Citadel Hill, Halifax, with Winter Quilt, 2013. Photo: Shyronn Smardon

As a descendant of Black Loyalists, Black Refugees, and Jamaican Maroons who came to Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries, Shauntay Grant’s love of language stretches back to her storytelling roots in Nova Scotia’s historic Black communities. This exhibition features a handful of quilts selected by Grant from the heritage holdings of her family, prominently those of her grandmother, the Reverend Alfreda Smith. Grant’s own creative response to the quilts—and equally, the stories they keep—will produce a new ‘poetic patchwork’ developing inside the Gallery over the course of the exhibition.

Grant served as the City of Halifax’s third Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2011. A multidisciplinary artist with professional degrees and training in creative writing, music, and theatre, she publishes, performs, and teaches in several literary genres. Her homegrown artistic practice embraces African Nova Scotian folk traditions as well as contemporary approaches to literature and performance.

Considering that these quilts were stitched together both ornamentally and functionally from scraps of fabric gleaned from garments and textiles to create essential coverings to protect bodies from Nova Scotia’s harsh and wintery climate, Grant explores how the politics of textiles speaks to her ancestry and her contemporary experience of the social and political fabric of Nova Scotia.

Grant currently teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University as a Lecturer in the Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.