I Am The Woman

COOPER COLE is pleased to present I Am The Woman, a solo presentation of the work of Jorian Charlton. This is the artist’s first exhibition at the gallery, and the curatorial debut of Solana Cain. A text by the curator follows.

Jorian Charlton creates portraits in medium format that capture the vibrancy of diversity within the Black community. Charlton holds a strong place in a lineage of Black photographers who create in a collaborative way. She shares agency with her models by using familiar environments as her set, she encourages models to direct their own poses, incorporates their authentic style and then names the works after the models. Charlton’s approach to portraiture is significant because it gives Black people control over how they are represented. This process is Charlton’s way of pushing back at photography’s imperialist history, countering colonial photographic practices, and addressing restriction in movement and over-surveillance of the Black community that continues today.

The portraits in I Am The Woman highlight an array of identities present in children of the African and Caribbean diaspora. To Charlton, the gaze has weight. When taking a photograph, she locks eyes with models, sharing a moment of recognition and validation with them through the lens. When viewers look at her portraits, the models are staring at you, again speaking to the artist’s reclaiming of the Black experience at the photo studio. They are watching you because they are empowered; they are rooted in their autonomy and command the space the viewer beholds. They cannot be defined based on stereotypes or other narratives viewers may hold; they are telling you who they are. In Toronto’s Black community, when Charlton asks to take your portrait, people say yes. Charlton’s work is celebrated and wields authority because it reflects how Black Canadians view themselves and deserve to be seen.

The title of the exhibition, I Am The Woman, references the poem Remember Me? by American writer and activist Alice Walker. Walker’s poem asserts that the healing of women of colour, namely Black women, is hopeful, only if they find justice; only if their resiliency is acknowledged and space is created for them to exist freely. Charlton’s work mirrors this cry from Walker by advancing new modes of representation for Black people. Throughout these works, Charlton is reminding viewers that you cannot simply define any or all Black people based on what you’ve read or been told. Her work reminds you, and the Black community, that we each possess a unique story that is ours to share.

Jorian Charlton (b. 1989, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) is a portrait photographer. Her work focuses on Jamaican-Canadian culture through her personal experiences, highlighting beauty and style when it comes to contemporary modes of black representation. Charlton pursues reflections of identity and diasporic relationships to homeland, while her poetic approach to these themes characterizes her method of visual storytelling. Charlton earned a Bachelor of Photography at Sheridan College, and has exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gallery TPW, Patel Brown Gallery, and the 2021 edition of Arles Les Recontres de la Photographie. She currently lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Solana Cain (b.1989, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) is an independent curator, journalist and photographic professional. Solana was selected as one of the inaugural artists in residence at Nia Centre for the Arts in Toronto. She is a graduate of the School of Journalism at University X, and the photojournalism program at Loyalist College. Solana is an accomplished photo editor and currently holds a position at The Globe and Mail newspaper. Solana Cain currently lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

Artworks

Jorian Charlton

Susie

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Susie, 2021

Baryta Fine Art Print mounted Dibond

Edition of 3, 2 AP

Framed

J.Charlton0010

44" X 55" X 1.5"
111.76cm X 139.7cm X 3.81cm

Jorian Charlton

Georgia & Kukua

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Georgia & Kukua, 2020

Baryta Fine Art Print mounted to Dibond

Edition of 3, 2 AP

Framed

J.Charlton0005

55" X 44" X 1.5"
139.7cm X 111.76cm X 3.81cm

Jorian Charlton

Nyabel & Nevine

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Nyabel & Nevine, 2021

Baryta Fine Art Print mounted to Dibond

Edition of 3, 2 AP

Framed

J.Charlton0012

41" X 33" X 1.5"
104.14cm X 83.82cm X 3.81cm

Jorian Charlton

Whak & Mo

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Whak & Mo, 2020

Baryta Fine Art Print mounted to Dibond

Edition of 3, 2 AP

Framed

J.Charlton0006

41" X 33" X 1.5"
104.14cm X 83.82cm X 3.81cm

Jorian Charlton

Kadine

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Kadine, 2021

Baryta Fine Art Print mounted to Dibond

Edition of 3, 2 AP

Framed

33" X 41" X 1.5"
83.82cm X 104.14cm X 3.81cm

Jorian Charlton

Sydné

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Sydné , 2021

Baryta Fine Art Print mounted to Dibond

Edition of 3, 2 AP

Framed

25" X 21" X 1.5"
63.5cm X 53.34cm X 3.81cm

Jorian Charlton

Ayo & Georgia

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Ayo & Georgia, 2019

Baryta Fine Art Print mounted to Dibond

Edition of 3, 2 AP

Framed

25" X 21" X 1.5"
63.5cm X 53.34cm X 3.81cm

Jorian Charlton

Yemisi

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Yemisi, 2021

Baryta Fine Art Print mounted to Dibond

Edition of 3, 2 AP

Framed

25" X 21" X 1.5"
63.5cm X 53.34cm X 3.81cm

Jorian Charlton

Nyabel & Nevine

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Nyabel & Nevine, 2021

Baryta Fine Art Print mounted to Dibond

Edition of 3, 2 AP

Framed

J.Charlton0011

25" X 21" X 1.5"
63.5cm X 53.34cm X 3.81cm

Jorian Charlton

Sydné & Keverine

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Sydné & Keverine, 2020

Baryta Fine Art Print mounted to Dibond

Edition of 3, 2 AP

Framed

J.Charlton0002

25" X 21" X 1.5"
63.5cm X 53.34cm X 3.81cm

Jorian Charlton

Bambii

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Bambii, 2021

Baryta Fine Art Print mounted to Dibond

Edition of 3, 2 AP

Framed

25" X 21" X 1.5"
63.5cm X 53.34cm X 3.81cm