Jan Wade


embroidered linen
10 x 32 1/2 inches

From then on I thought of these pieces as breathing…as breath itself…every stitch a mantra…of the unacknowledged…JOY…of breathing…a calm…moment by moment…breath by breath…stitch by stitch… mantra…a spell-poem that would and could help sustain my own life…and our right to life…
– Jan Wade, discussing the newfound importance of her Breathe series after the death of Eric Garner

Growing up, Canadian Jan Wade was heavily influenced by her grandmother and great grandmother’s Black Southern culture, and as an adult in 1980s Vancouver began researching the spiritual practices of the African diaspora as a means of self-discovery. This panel comes from her large-scale embroidery work, Breathe. The handstitched panels connect to the crafts she learned during childhood by her African American grandmother and their community, and to the aesthetic of indigenous and African textiles created by her ancestors. Breathe was presented at the Art Canada Institute in her exhibition Jan Wade: Soul Power, the first solo exhibition by a Black woman in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s 90 years. The exhibition highlights the wide range of multimedia work created by Wade in her three-decade career.