Prairie Star Deck Art Show in Edmonton @ Alberta Craft Council

Date: May 10, 2024

Deadline: Jul 20, 2024 - 1:00 pm

May 25 - July 20, 2024

Prairie Star Deck is AJA Louden’s first public exhibition of his large-scale tapestries. These large-scale textile works are grounded in ideas of Afrofuturism, a cultural aesthetic that combines science-fiction, history and fantasy to explore the African-American experience and aims to connect those from the Black diaspora with their forgotten African ancestry. An artist known largely for his street-based work in spray paint, over the past 3 years, Louden has been focused on building his own artistic language working in craft. 

In 2022, Louden was invited by Fern Facette to spend 3 months as part of the inaugural Artist in Residence program at Fern’s School of Craft in Edmonton, AB. It was here that Louden learned how to use cut and loop pile tufting guns and was struck by the similarities between how one handles a tufting gun and a can of spray paint. From here, Louden began thinking more deeply about the role of craft in Black communities, and the use of textiles to consider the history of craft in rural Alberta in particular. 

Growing up in Southern Alberta, Louden’s mother had a sewing room where she would produce work for herself and for others. For Louden, this interest in using craft as a medium is a reconnection with his personal history, and building upon his familial memories of domestic craft, Louden was able to incorporate his mother’s crocheted work into one of the tapestries in the show.  

Prairie Star Deck introduces us to the matriarchal society Louden has built. Here, two of the main characters are established as time travelling spacewomen through their life sized portraits Mother and Daughter. These characters will be familiar faces to those who have seen Louden’s recent mural works in Lethbridge and Edmonton. Delving deeper into the story, the tarot inspired work Shame  shows the two figures in a vignette from the larger cyclical narrative about a moment after a balance of power has shifted and a moral crisis begins to create a rupture in their relationship. 

Using craft, a medium historically grounded in Black Prairie communities, Louden considers how the nature of power can hold us in cycles and invites us to think about disparate possibilities where we create room for new futures.

About the artist

AJA Louden is a Jamaican-Canadian artist living and working in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada).  Through rigorous mark making, constructions and installations, Louden builds stories and worlds that are firmly rooted in both galleries and public spaces, infused by his experience of growing up Black in the prairies. His current work focuses on the cyclical nature of power, inspired by science-fiction and historical paintings. Known largely for his street-based work in contemporary urban muralism, Louden challenges perceptions of the history and culture of unsanctioned public art. 

Louden’s work has been shown in public spaces and institutions across Alberta, including the 2022 retrospective exhibition Black Every Day at the Art Gallery of Alberta that featured his large-scale, site specific installation Constellation. In 2022, he was awarded the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund, and he was selected by Faye HeavyShield, Lieutenant Governor 2021 Distinguished Artist, for a unique award from the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation.

Louden’s work is in the collections of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Misericordia Community Hospital.

The artist would like to recognize the Edmonton Arts Council and City of Edmonton, and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, for support of production of the works in Prairie Star Deck.