The installation complicates the associations of “black” through the exploration of phenotypes and the poethics of “Blackness”—not indebted to, or enveloped by, systems of oppression. It draws connections between the social construction of Blackness—as aesthetic, object, and imaginings, to the impact of colonial conditioning governing our relationship to imagery. To speculate existence In Excess of Representation is to acknowledge the labor of language used to construct an oppositional “black.” When rooted in collective self-reflection and self-regard, how might we leverage refusal of imposed affiliation in favor of embodying a counter-narrative of Black visuality and being—one that isn’t created in response to the white gaze but rather an entirely new way to value the term “black” and its impossible nuance. When forced to consider positive relationships between observers and subject “black,” denying the audience references to heritage, lineage, and Black bodies, we can begin to imagine Blackness beyond white constructed representation, narrating beauty, joy, and futurism as a means of divesting from life-long strategically manipulated ideality. In Excess of Representation takes influence from Tina Campts’ description of the “impossibility of Black possibility,” Dionne Brand’s approach to reference vernacular in No Language Is Neutral, and Deborah Thomas’ articulation of the study of Black “Not that which hastens death but rather Black life—resourcefulness, resilience, the way we live, the fantastic, the fabulation in spite of.”

Nya Lewis’ MFA practice is a culmination of centuries of African resistance, love, questions, actions, study, and embrace. The artist sees her practice as a continuation of a long lineage of work undertaken by Black artists, curators, writers, activists and thinkers who blaze(d) a trail of critical discourse surrounding the Black Canadian experience(s) and the permanence, documentation and dissemination of Black thought. Lewis’ creative practice reflects upon the diversity of Black diasporic experiences and its many forms of expression. As such, she works across the disciplines of art making, curating and writing. Her work is multivalent in form and expression but is always driven by the reimagining and reclaiming of community.

Lewis currently serves as the Director/Curator of Artspeak Gallery, the Research Fellow at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the year round programmer at Vancouver Queer Film Festival.


The Burrard Arts Foundation Garage Program is made possible by the generous support of the Chan Family Foundation. Photo documentation by Dennis Ha.

In Excess of Representation

Nya Lewis


BAF Gallery
2-258 East 1st Ave
Vancouver, BC

Exhibit Dates

Nov 10, 2022 to Jan 3, 2023


Nov 10, 6-9PM