As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic, is an exciting compilation of photographs from African diasporic culture. Drawn from Dr. Kenneth Montague’s Wedge Collection in Toronto—a Black-owned collection dedicated to artists of African descent—As We Rise looks at multifaceted ideas of Black life through the lenses of community, identity, and power.
With over one hundred works by Black artists from Canada, the Caribbean, Great Britain, the United States, South America, as well as throughout the African continent, As We Rise provides a timely exploration of Black identity on both sides of the Atlantic.
As Teju Cole describes in his preface, “Too often in the larger culture, we see images of Black people in attitudes of despair, pain, or brutal isolation. As We Rise gently refuses that. It is not that people are always in an attitude of celebration—no, that would be a reverse but corresponding falsehood—but rather that they are present as human beings, credible, fully engaged in their world.”
Artists such as Stan Douglas, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Barkley L. Hendricks, Liz Johnson Artur, Seydou Keïta, Deana Lawson, Jamel Shabazz, Texas Isaiah, and Carrie Mae Weems touch on themes of agency, beauty, joy, belonging, subjectivity, and self-representation.
Writings by Isolde Brielmaier, Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Mark Sealy, Teka Selman, and Deborah Willis, among others, provide insight and commentary on this monumental collection.
A preface by Teju Cole, an introduction by Mark Sealy, and an interview by Liz Ikiriko contextualize Dr. Kenneth Montague’s inspiring collection.
Dr. Kenneth Montague started the Wedge Collection in 1997 to acquire and exhibit art that explores Black identity. In addition to the Wedge Collection, Montague founded Wedge Curatorial Projects, a nonprofit arts organization that helps to support emerging Black artists. A Toronto-based art collector, Montague has been a member of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s board of trustees since 2015. He has served on the African acquisitions committee at Tate Modern, London, and is an advisor to the Department of Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora at the Art Gallery of Ontario.