Two Stacks

Opening Sunday, March. 11th from 12-5pm
Show runs from March 5th – March 26th, 2023

Gallery is open is open to the public Wed – Sun 12-5pm. No appointment necessary. If you would like to book a half hour gallery appointment please go here

A group exhibition of new and existing works anchored by Tim Whiten’s new sculpture Two Stacks honouring the memory, spirit and continuing presence of Sophia Burthen (Pooley) and her lost sister (name unknown). Facilitated by artist/writer Andrew Hunter, the exhibition features works by Anique Jordan, Ebti Nabag (with Reighen Grineage), Shelley Niro, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, Camal Pirbhai and Camille Turner, Jeff Thomas, and Syrus Marcus Ware.  

Born enslaved in Fishkill, Dutchess County, New York (circa 1772), Sophia Burthen was stolen as a child with her sister (name and age unknown) during the American Revolution, taken north up the Hudson River to Albany, then west to Niagara, where she was sold to the Haudenosaunee/Mohawk leader and British Army officer Thayendanegea/Joseph Brant. Brought to Upper Canada in 1785 (without her sister) when the Haudenosaunee relocated to the Haldimand Tract on the Grand River, Sophia lived for approximately two decades with Thayendanegea/Brant (primarily at “Brant’s Ford”/’Mohawk” on the Grand, then at Brant’s home located on the shore of Lake Ontario, now Burlington). Around the time of Thayendanegea/Brant’s death in 1807, Sophia was sold to the affluent English settlers Samuel and Margaret Hatt (of Ancaster Township/Dundas, Upper Canada) with whom she lived until the end of the War of 1812, when she took her freedom (1815). She would go on to reside in the short lived, predominantly Black community, in the Queen’s Bush, Canada West, where she would be interviewed by Boston writer Benjamin Drew in 1855. Sophia’s interview was published in Drew’s A North-Side View of Slavery: The Refugee (1856).

Sophia Burthen’s interview is the only known first-person account of an individual held enslaved in Canada. As in New York and New England (and many “northern” states), the existence of slavery in Canada remains largely unacknowledged and is rarely taught, even though the system of chattel slavery was foundational to the British Empire, the Industrial Revolution, colonial expansion and Indigenous displacement and genocide. Andrew Hunter’s book presents a complex, multifaceted and layered narrative informed by Sophia’s life, developed in dialogue with a number of significant Black and Indigenous scholars, writers and artists. The Two Stacks project represents a continuation of this dialogue and emphasizes the legacies of slavery in Canada.

Detail of Tim Whiten’s, Two Stacks (2022), cast glass, velvet, papier mâché, black walnut stain/ink