“A Day in the Life” with graphic artist, writer, researcher, Nya Lewis

Nya Lewis’ interdisciplinary practice is a culmination of centuries of African resistance, love, questions, actions, study and embrace rooted in the theorization of the conditions of Black cultural production. 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 experience. 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.

Nya Lewis is an MFA student at OCAD University, the year-round programmer at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, a Research Assitant at the center for the study of Black Canadian Diaspora and an Independent curator currently serving as Guest curator at UBC Museum of Anthropology.

-Written by Quammie Williams (father)

UBC Museum of Anthropology multiverse gallery cases. Black Lives Matter installation by Nya Lewis. (January 2019)
Installation in progress at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Installing graphic vinyl commission “Commit Us to Memory” by Nya Lewis (October 2020)
Nya Lewis
Nya Lewis sitting in front of a black and white mural by artist Tafui, part of her curated exhibition “Where do we go from Here” at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Image by Michele Bygodt (December 2020)
Leading a gallery walk for Black Girl Vancouver during “Where do we go from Here” pictured is works by Rebecca Bair. This was especially exciting as it was everyone’s first time in an art gallery. (January 2021)
Nya Lewis sitting in front of Massy Art Society during install of her exhibit “Quilt of Hopes: Vancouver artists for Black liberation” (February 2021)
AfroQueer’s Pride Sunday 2021 at Beaumont Studios. A customized balloon that reads “Black Queer Joy” As a year-round programmer for VQFF and AfroQueer pride weekend is always the highlight of my summer. (August 2021)
Nya Lewis
Installation in progress at the Museum of Anthropology. Nya standing with graphics for “To be Black in BC” Designing and installing a curved vinyl entrance wall for “Sankofa” (October 2021)
Nya Lewis
“Sankofa” opening night! Image by Sarah G (November 2021)

Which ‘hood are you in?

I am a born and raised Torontonian, but I moved to BC in 2016. I have apartment hopped all over the DTES and East Van like every struggling artist (lol) but now have a wonderful home in Burnaby.

What do you do?

I like to say I have a hybrid curatorial practice. I am an independent curator that works in public programming, a graphic artist, a writer, researcher, community advocate/ organizer and a cat mom who loves cooking (eating)Trinidadian food.

What are you currently working on?

My thesis! I am an MFA candidate at OCAD, and my research focuses on the possibilities of decolonizing lens-based media. I am currently programming the upcoming season on Vancouver Queer Film Festival; the curator in residence at Grunt Gallery and working as a research assistant at the Center for Study of Black Canadian Diaspora.

Where can we find your work?

I am super proud of the co-curated exhibit currently on at UBC Museum of Anthropology, Sankofa: African Routes Canadian Roots. I also have a vinyl public art installation up at Burrard Arts Foundation, In Excess of Representation.