Experience TOME: Passages from Black History, an installation by Chantal Gibson at the Belzberg Library

Image of TOME displayed on top of bookshelves at Belzberg library

About the exhibit

A tome is commonly defined as a very large, thick book, in particular a volume forming a part of a larger scholarly work.

TOME: Passages from Black History, exhibited at the Samuel & Frances Belzberg Library, is a mixed-media installation, an excerpt imagined from a large-scale historical narrative about the African Diaspora.

Artist's materials used to create the installation: brushes and heavy cotton fabric.

Made with coffee and cotton, two products that drove the economy of the African slave trade, the work imagines a history -- fragmented, folded, twisted, entwined -- bound into a topographical and sensorial landscape of memory.

Both passages and footnotes are presented here in dialogue with other scholarly, historical, and fictional texts. Together they speak to a collective history of struggle and creativity, as they each tell us something about how narratives are constructed.

TOME will be on display at Belzberg Library through the end of Spring 2022.


Artist’s statement and biography

Portrait of Chantal Gibson.

Chantal Gibson is an award-winning writer-artist-educator whose visual art has been exhibited at the ROM, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Open Space in Victoria, UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, and the Senate of Canada.

Her altered books explore the cultural production of knowledge and challenge traditional readings of the African Canadian Experience.

Presented as mechanisms of communication, rather than containers of fixed truth, Chantal’s mixed media works intersect art, history and anthropology to highlight the hand of the Black artist-historian.

Her award-winning debut book of poetry, How She Read, explores the representation of Black women in Canadian history, art, and literature. Her latest book, with/holding, is a collection of genre-blurring poems that examines the representation and reproduction of Blackness across communication media and popular culture.

Recently named a 2021 3M National Teaching Fellow, Chantal teaches writing and design communication in the School of Interactive Arts & Technology at SFU.


Spring term
Belzberg Library, SFU Vancouver