Unfinished Work Podcast
Season Two: Blk Scotian; Blk Art
Three African Nova Scotian artists, Kordeena Clayton, Kate Macdonald, and I’thandi Munro discuss the journey of artistic creation and the unexpected learnings along the way. Hear conversations with guest artists about their connections to African Nova Scotian culture, settlements, community, and lineage.
These three artists dig into conversations with their guests about what is the “Scotian connection”? How are other artists connected to this place through family, artistic practice, homelands, and ancestral journeys? Tune in to this season to hear our hosts connect with folks from far and wide and down the road to explore the great and intricate fabric of African Nova Scotian culture, art, and community.
Available wherever you listen to your podcasts.Learn about the hosts
Episode 10: Closing
Tune in to our final episode as we share and explore our connection to Nova Scotia as artists, discuss family histories, podcast future possibilities and reflect on the journey we shared with guests on this season of Blk Scotian; Blk Art.
Episode 9: Kye Clayton
We have musician and icon, Kye Clayton, in the studio with us in this episode, talking about beginnings, influence, and dreams. Not only is Kye a celebrated guest on this podcast, he is family!
Kye Clayton was born and raised in Uniacke square. His music reflects who he is and the environment around him. Kye’s sound is hard hitting drums and smooth melodies sounding like no other.
Producing his own music, and mixing/blending genres, he always keeps the listener guessing.
His music has catchy melodies, smooth flow, an understanding of the struggles of life, and what minorities go through day to day.
Some of his achievements include being featured on CBC’s Beyond The 6 and nominated for multiple awards (Best New Artist, Best Hip-Hop Record, and African Nova Scotia Artist of The Year) at Nova Scotia Music Week in 2021. Currently, Clayton is working on projects that aim to build his brand, fan base, and that tell the world who he is.
Episode 8: NAT chantel
NAT chantel is a performance artist that uses the metaphysical space around her to affect the energy of those experiencing her work. Drawing on the use of breath, inward reflection, and healing, she uses trauma to collectively shift, and uplift the consciousness present within her surroundings. Answering questions with pieces of art, every moment will have you breathing and thinking differently.
NAT chantel is a primarily self-taught artist who engages subtle movement and repetitive processes to revisit memory and personal history as a way to reclaim the body and voice. Language, lineal disruption, and displacement from land and home claim permanence in her art. In 2022 NAT was one of four artists invited to perform in response to the exhibition, Alicia Henry: Witnessing at the AGNS. She was also one of four BIPOC artists selected and commissioned for EAC and ZUPPA Theatre’s 50 Things (2021). NAT has supported artists in mentorship independently and with the CFAT Media Scholarship Program (2021-2022). She has participated in Canadian art festivals, residencies, panel discussions, and has performed or collaborated with artists such as Liliona Quarmyne, Jen Yakamovich, Andrew Mackelvie, Annie Wong, and Angel Bat Dawid.
Episode 7: Nessy Thomas
Vanessa “Nessy” Thomas experiments with digital and mixed media art processes. In this episode she shares her experiences as an emerging artist in Scotia. Nessy also tells us about what inspires her and her exploration of the arts in the NFT world.
Vanessa ‘Nessy’ Thomas is an experimental digital and mixed media artist. She enjoys experimenting with a variety of tools, and techniques to produce work that represents an expression of her worldview, informed by layers of Black experience. In early 2022 Nessy began to invest in her craft as a full-time artist. She created her debut collection, MxSe in 2021 before hearing about NFTs. After connecting to active members in the Web3 community, she learned about the exciting opportunities for artists who use this technology. In the same year Nessy created the cover art for Africville Forever which was on the list of top podcasts of the year. She also had the opportunity to participate in Halifax Mural fest, and now has multiple art installations around the city of Halifax. Nessy finds joy in creating art that can spark conversation and be remembered.
Episode 6: Kevin Ormsby
Kevin Ormsby is a body of knowledge. In this episode we dive into his interest as a Jamaican born artist that feels a deep connection to the maroons who settled here in Scotia. He speaks about technique and the individuality of movers being validated within performing arts spaces. He explains how he balanced his lifelong career while maintaining space to reflect and continue to show up for his craft.
Kevin A. Ormsby is the Artistic Director of KasheDance and Program Manager at Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO). Kevin A. Ormsby has performed with companies in Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean. A finalist for the 2021 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prizes and 2014 recipient of Canada Council for the Arts’ Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award, Kevin was an inaugural TAC Cultural Leaders Fellow. Kevin is on the faculty of Centennial College’s Dance Performance Program and has been a Guest Artist in Residence at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of the West Indies (Mona), University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University and University of Texas -Austin. Through a creative practice based on a pedagogy of traditional and contemporary Diasporic languages, his research and creative practice exists in constant interrogation and navigation of Caribbean and African Diasporic cultural nuances towards a methodology of understanding space in creation, research, and presentation.
Episode 5: Manny Dingo
Tune in to share time with drag performer extraordinaire, Joee Smith. With a self-taught background in acrobatics, they talk about the importance of self determination and how they use their drive to fuel their success. They talk about their experience leaving Scotia for Toronto, and living the dream of a full time artist.
Manny Dingo is a Drag King hailing from Haliwood, Nova Scotia. He has been performing since 2015 and started taking up space in Toronto in 2019. He is a powerhouse performer, shy boi, and amateur DJ. He serves you a mixture of Prince, Lil Nas X and your favorite fashionable gay uncle. He incorporates gymnastics with voguing, waacking and smooth dance moves across the floor.
Episode 4: Marqeis “KekeBeatz” Williams
Marqeis “KekeBeatz” Williams shares his insights on the multiplicity of projects he works on, from music to video production, and how he is creating a network that uplifts the community around him and continues to bring growth to all his collaborators.
Born and raised in North Preston, Nova Scotia, Marqeis “KekeBeatz” Williams is an Artrepreneur in the music and entertainment industry. He founded, owns, and operates KekeBeatz Films, a company specializing in multimedia arts.
In 2007 at age 13, Keke recorded and produced his first set of music videos with friends. He uploaded videos to the, at the time, new video sharing platform, YouTube, which gained a following for his work, online and off.
In the early 2010s, Keke founded his recording studio. He began recording with local artists, ranging from beginners to renowned veterans of the industry. He became known as a safe space where the youth could go to record and stay out of the streets.
While continuing to record at his studio, the film side of the company began flourishing. Keke did music video content for friends from 2010-2013, and his audience and clientele for KBF grew, peaking interest from CBC Canada, Pineapple Express Media, HEIST and many other organizations.
Today he is known as one of the most thought of film makers and music producers in the Nova Scotia music & visual arts scene.
Episode 3: Cyndi Cain
This episode dives into conversations around legacy, community and receiving our flowers while we are still here. Hear Cyndi Cain her speak about her impressive journey and dreams of the future. .
Cyndi Mae Cain is a Canadian singer songwriter actress and entrepreneur. Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Cyndi was raised with her parents of Nova Scotia. At the age of three, Cyndi’s parents already had her performing at family functions and could often be found singing in the children’s choir at Toronto’s First Baptist Church. Cyndi studied musical theatre at Sheridan College and worked abroad in the Caribbean as a professional musician. After returning to Canada, she released her debut album Essentially Cyndi (2009) and an acclaimed retro follow-up Soul Food (2013). Both received East Coast Music Award nominations and led to her winning the Galaxie Rising Star Award (2011) and the African Nova Scotia Music Award for Artist of the Year (2014). Considered one of Nova Scotia’s Pioneers of Soul and R&B, Cyndi has shared the stage with the likes of the late Aretha Franklin, Charles Bradley, Symphony NS, Michael Bublé, Lauryn Hill, and sang for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. As a multi-talented artist, Cyndi recently acted and sang in Neptune Theatre’s award-winning play Controlled Damage (2020), the story of activist Viola Desmond. Cyndi Cain was named winner of the 2022 Portia White Prize at the November 10, 2022 Creative Nova Scotia Awards. Cyndi is currently in the process of recording an inspirational gospel album.
Cyndi is known for her artistic achievements and upstanding presence and participation in the community-at-large. She is known as a gracious volunteer, mentor, and role model. She has received many awards and citations for her contributions. Art has the power to reflect our deepest thoughts and passions. It has the power to make change in society, shining light on the issues that face our communities. Cyndi Cain makes art that does just that: her music, her STOMP group, her involvement in theatre and her personal brand We Been Here all brings to life her pride in being African Nova Scotian and highlights the history of Black Nova Scotians.
Episode 2: Andre Fenton
In this episode hosts I’thandi, Kate and Kordeena explore the importance of home, growth, and grief alongside the decorated author and creative writer – Andre Fenton. Andre Fenton is an African Nova Scotian, Halifax born and raised Young Adult author.
Andre Fenton is an award-winning African Nova Scotian author, spoken-word artist,
screenwriter and arts educator who has represented Halifax at seven national poetry festivals
across Canada. He is a recipient of the Emerging Artist Recognition Award at the 2022 Creative
NS Awards, and the author of three young adult fiction novels, Worthy of Love, which won
bronze in The Coast’s 2018 Best Of Awards, He is also the author of ANNAKA, that was the 2022
recipient of The Community & Place Award from Digitally Lit, and is the author of The Summer
Between Us, which won Gold in The Coast’s 2022 Best Of Awards. Andre has facilitated writing
and performances workshops at over 50 schools across Nova Scotia. He is currently
screenwriting the film adaptation of his novel, ANNAKA that is being produced by Fine Devils
Films. Andre is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Episode 1: Francesca Ekwuyasi
In the opening episode of Season 2, Blk Scotian; Blk Art hosts I’thandi, Kate and Kordeena dive into conversations of belonging, connection, and inspiration with Lagos born artist, learner and storyteller francesca ekwuyasi.
Francesca Ekwuyasi is a learner, artist, and storyteller born in Lagos, Nigeria. Her work has explored themes of faith, family, queerness, consumption, loneliness, and belonging. She was awarded the Writers Trust Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers in 2022 for her debut novel Butter Honey Pig Bread (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020). Butter Honey Pig Bread was also shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award, the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, and the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the DUBLIN Literary Award. CBC’s Canada Reads: Canada’s Annual Battle of the Books selected Butter Honey Pig Bread as one of five contenders in 2021 for “the one book that all of Canada should read.” Championed by Roger Mooking, the book made it to the grand finale, where it placed second.
Kate Macdonald, I’thandi Munro, and Kordeena Clayton, are three African Nova Scotian artists who sit down to discuss their artistic journeys and the unexpected learnings along the way. In this podcast series, these interdisciplinary artists rotate hosting conversations with other Black artists to explore themes of healing, practice, and representation, often exploring subjects that institutions, systems, and spaces haven’t easily held.
Available wherever you listen to your podcasts.Learn about the season one hosts
Episode 8: Closing
In our final episode, your hosts Kordeena, Kate and I’thandi, reflect upon their time spent together discussing the corners of their lives and their art not often shared. Tune in to hear them tie it all together.
Episode 7: Parenthood and Art
Tune in to your hosts, Kordeena, I’thandi and Kate, explore the journey of parenting. Through lenses of deep historical and ancestral ideologies coupled with our ‘makeshift’ parenting innovations, from OG parents to novice level, they crack open discoveries as parents and artists.
Episode 6: Healing and Care Through Art with Bria Miller
In this episode Kate, Kordeena and I’thandi, are joined by multi-disciplinary artist Bria Miller to discuss rest, practice, healing, and connectivity.
Bria (she/they) is a Queer, mixed race African Nova Scotian visual artist born + raised in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, currently residing and creating within Kjipuktuk (Halifax), Nova Scotia. Current artistic focus is creating printed matter featuring their art (stickers, posters, illustrations, custom merch, logos, signage, etc) and wearable items (jewelry, clothing, pins, keychains, etc), while also learning new mediums and as much as they can. Their art practice is a means to encourage self expression and reflection, spread affirmation, explore nostalgia and relationships, play, raise awareness about important issues, while also combating feelings of isolation especially through the pandemic. Issa survival necessity.
Bria has been working to create opportunities, programming, closed spaces, intentional resources and spaces that support marginalized artists and creatives through their work as a previous CoDirector of Khyber Centre for the Arts, before then as a caseworker at Elizabeth Fry Society, and additionally as an arts educator, facilitator, and event organizer since 2014.
Working closely with artists on a wide range of projects through the pandemic and in curation for four years has inspired a new pursuit into art full-time, so Bria is delving more into their own art practice and launching Bria Makes Things, briamakesthings.bigcartel.com, where you will be able to see and buy Bria’s art.
Episode 5: Legacy with Sylvia Hamilton
A giant in terms of creating important dialogue with art and film, the wonderful Sylvia D. Hamilton joins Kate and I’thandi to discuss community, wisdom, and wishes for the future, in a conversation spanning generations in time.
Sylvia D. Hamilton is a Nova Scotian filmmaker, writer, and multi-media artist. She is known for her award-winning documentary films and her publications and presentations as well as her extensive volunteer work with artistic, social, and cultural organizations at the local and national levels. Many of her films have been broadcast in Canada and screened at national and international festivals, including: Black Mother Black Daughter; Speak It! From the Heart of Black Nova Scotia; Portia White: Think on Me; and The Little Black School House.
Her 2014 poetry collection, And I Alone Escaped to Tell You, was a finalist for several awards. Her multi-media installation, Excavation: A Site of Memory, has been shown in galleries and museums in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec. One adaptation titled Here We Are Here, gave its name to the 2018 Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM) national group exhibition titled, Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art, which was also exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
Her recognitions include several honorary degrees, a Gemini Award, and the 2019 Governor General’s Award in History (Popular Media). She has a B.A. from Acadia University and an M.A. from Dalhousie University. She held Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax and has taught and lectured at many universities in Canada as well as at Middlebury College in Vermont, and the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. After her retirement from the University of King’s College in 2020, where she held the Rogers Chair in Communications in the School of Journalism, King’s named her an Inglis Professor and launched five annual awards in her name for African Canadian students.
Episode 4: Nocturne
For many artists in the region, showing their work at the Nocturne festival is a big deal. Hear how I’thandi, Kate, and Kordeena navigate this huge opportunity and festival while being black.
Episode 3: Art School with Letitia Fraser
On this episode, the ever-brilliant Letitia Fraser joins Kordeena, Kate and I’thandi. Together they unwrap the complexities of being black in institutions and the wealth of inspiration they draw as artists from their deep African Nova Scotian roots.
Letitia Fraser is an interdisciplinary artist, with a focus in painting and textile arts. Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Fraser is a proud descendant of the African Nova Scotian communities of North Preston and Beechville. Coming from a long line of artists, her artistic interest was nurtured early in life. Fraser’s work centers around the African Nova Scotian experience, showing life through the lens of an African Nova Scotian woman. As a painter, Letitia draws inspiration from her family and community’s history of quilts. Fraser completed a BFA at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2019, and has participated in several solo and group exhibitions.
Episode 2: Endless Possibilities with Kadeem Hinch
On this episode Kordeena, Kate, and I’thandi invite you to laugh alongside graphic designer Kadeem Hinch, whose eye for aesthetics and sources of inspiration will have you feeling ready to create. Tune in to hear them discuss artistic dreams and aspirations.
Kadeem Hinch is a full-time graphic designer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, currently working with the Provincial Government. Kadeem has over 7 years of experience in the industry and is passionate about providing clients with professional service, quality design, and trustworthy results.
Episode 1: Why Are We Here?
Hosts Kate Macdonald, I’thandi Munro, and Kordeena Clayton talk purpose, practice, and legacy in this introductory episode to Blk Scotian; Blk Art. Their conversations explore the themes that inspire their art making practice, balancing family life, and their distinctly different artistic journeys.
About the Artist
Kate Macdonald was born and raised in Kjipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki. Proudly African Nova Scotian she studied Performance Acting at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. At the end of 2016, with the political climate swiftly changing, she felt called to mobilize. Out of this desire to make a change she founded and created The Magic Project, which focuses on bringing marginalized brilliance to the forefront of social media using various forms of visual arts. Kate is a Community Facilitator, Programmer, Activist, Artist and Curator. She hopes to continue creating and designing workshops, holding space for community discussions, and empowering marginalized youth through celebration. Her art practice has always included photography, poetry, and performance theatre, but she has been long fascinated with any art form she comes across. Themes that especially interest Macdonald include themes of justice, healing, joy, magic, self, community, energy, shapes/movement, and ancestral connection. Recently, Kate–working with Trayvone Clayton & DeRico Symonds–created an African Nova Scotian community-based, youth-led initiative called The Game Changers. After a year of working together in advocacy, activism, and community they decided to collaborate officially. Currently, Kate is the Branch Manager at the North Branch Memorial Library–a branch that has long been a staple in the African Nova Scotian community.
Most recently, Kate has been selected for the Eye Level Artist in Residency and for the Bus Stop Writers’ Circle Grant, which allows emerging writers to work on their craft and develop new ideas.
About the Artist
I’thandi Munro is a mixed Afro-Euro L’nu woman living in Kjipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki, the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. Munro is a professional performance and visual artist. In 2020 she completed her BFA earning a double major in Photography and Jewellery Design & Metalsmithing from NSCAD University. As a racialized person living in a postcolonial environment, Munro uses the representation of line and of lineage as the underlying concepts through her fine art, craft, and dance. She often merges mediums into finished pieces, creating a sense of “multi-ness” within her work. Melding notions of the digital within her craft, Munro continuously seeks to learn new ways of making. She leaves space for her pieces to naturally evolve through reaction and discussion. This creates an ever-changing, flux body of work that can be continued, explored, and realized in many different ways. Munro is a SSHRC funded research assistant for Craft and The Digital Turn, sits on the board of The Woods professional hip hop dance company, is a programming committee member at Eyelevel Gallery, and works as a Programming and Communications Assistant + Project Coordinator at Nocturne Halifax. She continues to teach dance at East Coast Dance Academy and is now a mom of two who loves doing the most for her family, and community.
About the Artist
Kordeena Clayton is a Daughter, Mother, Sister, Wife and Owner of She Nubian Liberation Art & Apparel. She is also the founder of Takin’ BLK Business Initiative Co-operative and co-founder of the Takin’ BLK Gottingen and Markets. Kordeena is a descendant of the first African migrants to ever inhabit Nova Scotia and is a proud African Nova Scotian Queer Visual Artist who focuses on the importance of the representation of Black and Brown people; inclusivity and self-embracement. She is also known for Unapologetically Black and Unapologetically Queer Apparel, photography, graphic and clothing design, film making, and painting.