On Dec 16th 2017 we had the 2nd annual Artists of Colour Winter Solstice Market. It was a day filled with incredible Black, Indigenous, & People of Colour (BIPoC) Artists artists, lots of laughter, building social networks and connections and a space to spend time with folks who are in our communities we may not often get to see. Last year, I organized this event in my home, we had about 10 vendors and had a steady amount of folks come out throughout the day. My lovely friend Holly serenaded us with her lovely voice alongside her keyboard. It felt cozy and had a smaller and similar vibe to this year, there was lots of connection and re connection and it had a community gathering feel; folks hung out, we had a pot of soup on the stove, and folks supported local artists of colour.
This year, we were in the beautiful Broadway Youth Resource Centre and we had 25 vendors. It was amazing to see the growth and the demand for an Artists of colour market. I had folks emailing me days before the market to see if we had any more space for vendors and I had to let them know we were full. It really goes to show the need for a spaces that showcase Black, Indigenous and Artists of Colour! We didn’t keep track but it felt like we had hundreds of people throughout the day that attended the market. Here is a list of all our vendors - Please check out support their art!
The market was not only a place to buy local goodies by folks of colour, it also felt like a space where folks could connect. Connection was a word that kept coming up for me the day of the market. People talked about how it felt to be in the space to meet friends and see folks they havnt seen in a long time. I got so much feedback about how good the event felt and how happy folks were to be there. Folks said it felt like a community space; that it felt like a space created with intention and a lot of heart. It really was, for all the events I organize my aim and hope is to help create a hub for people to build community and make connections that will leave the space with them and continue into other parts of their lives. Also, an aim with the events I organize is to bring people together through arts, be it performance, visual art or otherwise as a gathering place, as a place to build up connection as 1 remedy that may help if people are feeling isolated or lonely or disconnected from being part of a community. I find that the events I organize
particularly with Folks of colour &/or Queer and Trans People of Colour spaces It feels powerful to come together and share our gifts, our art & our voices, things that so often in mainstream society are not understood or is not given the attention we deserve, that our art and voices deserve.
I witnessed such beautiful conversations, folks connecting who hadn’t seen each other in a while and new connections and introductions being made. There was so much laughter, delicious food and I met so many new artists, folks that had contacted me to be part of the market that saw the vendor callout. The Art! All the inspiring, Fat loving, body affirming, queer, art that exemplified Brown, Black Indigenous resistance & resilience, Femme love, it was powerful, funny, political, cute, celebratory, beautiful creations. We had beautiful jewelry, homemade vege chilly, bannock, chocolate pudding and Bicycle Bearista vending outside.
It was such an inspiring day! Reminds me why I love organizing and how much it feeds my spirit to bring together Artists of colour to share their gifts and talents with others.
As a working class artist, I am often looking for events, markets and spaces to vend at and so often I am frustrated with the high vendor rates ranging from $80-$120 per table!! If I find an event I can afford to sell at, I’ve often feel out of place as though my art and I don’t fit in and i'm finding this is an all too familiar feeling for other artists that i've talked to who have vended at more mainstream markets & art spaces. This is a conversation I had with so many artists and attendees the day of the market how the vibe and the space felt so rare and so necessary. There is such a need for spaces like the one I helped create, a space where folks can bring their full selves and share their art in a space with like minded folks who 'get' it. At the market it was really important for me to have vendor rates that people could actually afford. The vendor rates were $20-$40 per table with a few free spots because I didn’t want the fee to be a barrier for folks. I’ve helped create arts spaces like the market in different capacities and what I've realized from feedback and my own observations is how there is a lack of spaces that are solely featuring artists of colour. Folks of colour crave these spaces, they mean so much to people.
This event is different from a healing/event/social space that is solely for a group of people for example a Black or Indigenous or People of Colour only space. I've been part of spaces like this and i see and understand their value and the necessity to have spaces or events that are for a specifically marginalized group. This event was not that as all people were welcome to attend the event. There is something special about having all the vendors identify as Artists of Colour, the event felt empowerment, it was anti capitalist, and anti colonial. I felt really proud to be part of this market alongside all the vendors. I look forward to keeping this market as an annual event.
Something that I am also reflecting on is what it means for marginalized artists to sell our art and creations and some feelings that can come up around the value of our work. The market vendors were a range of folks: folks who have been creating for a long time but haven’t sold at an event before, folks who have been creating for a while and hadn’t really shared their art outside their circle of friends, and folks who have been creating and selling for years. When I started to sell my art, and this is something i still struggle with, pricing was one of the hardest components of being an artist. So many feelings around value and worth can come up for folks. Questions like who would want to buy my art? What is it worth? What is my time worth? What $ amount can I put on my time and resources I've used? What is the monetary value I can put on this art that I created from my struggles, pain, oppression, survival, etc? These are not small questions and I feel for anyone who has dealt with trauma that has affected ones feeling of value, worth and struggling with feeling like and being' enough' it makes sense these questions would come up when thinking about how to price ones art. These are the kinds of conversations I've had with other marginalized artists. Also, for a lot of folks in communities i am a part of, their aim isn't solely to make money, but that is defiantly something folks have to think about as we live in a capitalist society. For some folks, that is their goal and that is cool too. As an artists this is something to think about. Why am i making my art? What are my goals with what i am creating? Who do I want to see it? Who is it for? What is my drive in making and sharing my creations? I'm not here to judge anyone's life choices, I think though its really important to ask ourselves these questions and know what our intentions and values are within ourselves around art making and sharing/selling.
Other artists have shared with me that they want to sell at lower or sliding scale prices for folks who are low income. I sell all my art at sliding scale prices. This makes me think about why am I selling my art? Is it to make money? Yes, because I need money to live AND it's also because I need to share my narratives, my stories with the world, and also I want other marginalized artists to witness and have my art; and i hope that they can relate and see themselves in my art. to help them feel seen. My art isn't my only source of income, at times it has been when i have been really broke and not working, at this point in my life it isn't. Most of the time I'm happy when folks witness and share my art and I also deeply feel artists deserve recognition and need to be paid for our work and time.
Why do you make your art? Who is it for? Do you sell it? What do you base your prices on?
I am so appreciative to use the space at Broadway Youth Resource Centre, it worked so well for the event. Thank you so much to all the volunteers who helped me before, during and after the event. I could not have done it all without you, thank you for your time and energy. All the vendors thank you so much for sharing your art and gifts with the community and for connecting with me to sell. To all the folks that attended, helped with outreach and came and bought art & supported the vendors Shukriya from my brown heart. It’s really important to center Black, Indigenous and Artists of Colour (BIPoC). Our work is necessary and vital in a world where we so often don’t see ourselves,our art or our voices represented. This is why It’s really important for me to help centre and uplift my fellow BIPoC artists and performers. Keep supporting local! Keep supporting your local BIPoC Artists.
We need more spaces in this city that are for and by folks of colour!!!
I know this event has the potential to grow, grow, grow if there are folks out there that want to help with organizing contact me. I am making this event annual and can’t do it all on my own so please reach out if you would like to help.
Interdisciplinary Artist, Organizer & Performer
Zarifa -GraveMachine on IG
Aly dee Art