Jan Wade

Now Representing!
Richard Saltoun Gallery is delighted to announce the representation of African-Canadian artist Jan Wade to coincide with her first ever presentation in the UK at upcoming edition of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair. This follows on from her retrospective Soul Power at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada in 2021.


Drawing on her Southern-American roots and African diasporic spiritual practices, Jan Wade's work explores Black post-colonial identity, ethnicity, and spirituality. She produces paintings, textiles and mixed-media works that feature slogans and symbols - like the cross, guns and money - and are made entirely from found or readymade objects and recycled materials.


Wade was born in 1952 in Hamilton, Ontario, to a Black Canadian father with familial origins in the American South and a Canadian mother of European descent. Raised in a relatively segregated but close-knit Black community, Wade's formative years were heavily influenced by her local African Methodist Episcopal Church, Southern US Black culture and aesthetics from the perspectives of her paternal grandmother and great-grandmother.


Althought it stems from personal experience, Wade's work seeks to articulate a new understanding of her ancestors’ traumas and the discrimination they themselves suffered. Her early sculptures began with crosses made of found pieces of wood and embellished with thrift store finds and buttons. In parallel with the crosses, Wade also made ‘altars’ – rectangular assemblages with wooden letters spelling out messages about society’s moral codes, improprieties, and oppression.


The presentation at 1-54 will include Wade’s most iconic work Epiphany (1994), an installation comprising over 80 crosses made of found pieces of wood and embellished with thrift store finds and cultural objects of African-American culture. Exhibited at the 1st Johannesburg Biennale AFRICUS this is the first time it has been shown outside Canada since 1995. Also exhibited will be Wade's decade-long project Breathe (2004–2022), a series of 70 embroidered canvases in abstract pattern that recall African American quilt making and commemorates the killing of Eric Garner by a police officer in NYC in 2014; and Crowned (2021), one of her assemblage memory jugs, funeral devices used in Black North American communities to commemorate the dead and the ancestors, adapted by Wade to stand in as memorials to black culture and icons.

September 13, 2022