Afrophilia celebrates Black identity in Toronto park

By Stephen Weir

Frantz Brent-Harris

A knick here. A quick glue fix there.  It’s not easy being a head on a stick, especially in a downtown Toronto park. But that’s exactly where nine red heads of Black men and women have been hanging since last October as part of Frantz Brent-Harris’ outdoor sculpture installation, Afrophilia.

The sculptures, painted in vibrant orange and red, reflect the energy and attitude of the young Black generation driving a shift in self-perception and changing the global consciousness of Blackness. The installation is a “love letter to Black people” and a commemoration of the revolutionary heroes who deserve recognition, according to Black Artists’ Networks in Dialogue (BAND), the charitable organization presenting the exhibition.

The sculptures explore the complexities of outward-projection and spectator perception for Black people. They aim to portray in tangible form the constant tension of double consciousness and cognitive dissonance that corrupts the psyche of Black, African and Caribbean people when encountering the barrage of negativity from a white supremacist society.

Frantz Brent-Harris, the Jamaican sculptor behind Afrophilia, is based in Toronto and was unavailable for comment as he is currently in Zimbabwe. The exhibition has been on display at The Toronto Sculpture Garden, located at 115 King Street East, directly across the street from St. James Cathedral and between two of the oldest buildings in the city, dating back to the 1840s.

The exhibition will run until August 31st, and BAND hopes that all nine sculptures will remain intact until the end of the show. BAND is dedicated to supporting, documenting, and showcasing the artistic and cultural contributions of Black artists and cultural workers in Canada and internationally.

Head sculptures celebrate Black identity
Head sculptures celebrate Black identity

Afrophilia is a powerful statement of Black excellence and a celebration of Blackness in the face of adversity. The vibrant sculptures are a testament to the resilience and strength of the Black community and serve as a reminder of the immense value, diversity, and beauty of Black culture.