Exhibit links generations of T Dot hiphop legacy
In order to move forward, we need to pay homage to the past and those who have paved the way and that’s just what the Toronto hip-hop industry took part in last Thursday evening as the Nia Centre for the Arts, the Onyx Society and Northside Hip Hop presented the opening of the T-Dot Pioneers 3.0: The Future Must Be Replenished exhibit at the SOHO Lobby Gallery.
A number of young artists both celebrated the history of Toronto’s hip-hop community and questioned its position in the future with their visual art pieces, which hung around the gallery as the packed house mingled and debated about the symbolism of the art in correlation to the history of hip-hop in Canada.
Tamu Beatrice, a young artist who displayed her interactive 3D piece “The Light” says she is honoured to be a part of such an important event paying homage to the artists who set the foundation for the community and culture.
“We have our one or two big hip-hop artists, but it’s more than that. Hip-hop is a culture and a way of life, it has a history and it has meaning so I think to be a part of it is empowering,” she says.
The T-Dot Pioneers exhibit is not only revolutionary in that it is the first exhibit showcased at the SOHO but the gallery is also a huge milestone for the Toronto hip-hop community as it only further states that the city’s industry has evolved and is in no way slowing down. For a genre so frequently ignored as a serious industry, it was a step forward for the culture to have a gallery funded by the Ontario Arts Council.
Mistee Clarke, an Onyx artist, took part in the exhibit as her first ever gallery opportunity, displaying her six-foot square cardboard sculpture titled, “Hip-Hop Mandala” as a symbol of change that needs to be made in the Toronto industry in order to better its future.
“Within the Mandala, I have hands linked, which basically represents unity and I think that, for me, one of the important things in figuring out where we’re going to go, we need to be united in that meditation and actively involved in that meditation,” she says.
“It’s nice to see when there is some chronology to all the work you’ve put in and reflect back and have an understanding of what you contributed and why you contributed it.” – Farley Flex
Legendary Canadian videographer, Director X, conducted a speech, with a glass of white wine in hand, candidly talking on his history in the industry and the steps he took to achieve a title as a hip-hop pioneer to the packed gallery of guests. Farley Flex, a legend in Canada’s music scene and a hip-hop pioneer, also attended the gallery, and appreciated the opportunity to celebrate the work he and his peers have accomplished for the culture.
“It’s nice to see when there is some chronology to all the work you’ve put in and reflect back and have an understanding of what you contributed and why you contributed it. I thought X did a really good job of doing his version of a documentary or timeline as to how things evolved and the hustle it takes to be there and be here now,” he says. “There is a lot of opportunity to come and go, but to come and stay is a lot harder.”
With a packed gallery of pioneers and young aspiring artists, it seemed as though the gallery acted as a “passing of the torch” ceremony between the
two generations who reflected on the past and looked forward to the future of Toronto hip-hop.
The creative and visually appealing pieces will remain on display at the SOHO Lobby Gallery until April 26.
Words By. Samantha O’Connor
Photos By. Fitzroy Facey