Sunday School makes its museum debut at AGO


Celebrating Black identities, culture, and community

Joshua Kissi, Jump Ball: Mighty Migration, 2020. © Courtesy of Sunday School

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) will showcase an exhibition titled “Feels Like Home” by Sunday School, a renowned creative agency specializing in vibrant depictions of Black identities. It will be Sunday School’s first-ever museum installation and will feature photographs and time-based media that reflect on the theme of home and belonging. The exhibition, curated by Emilie Croning, AGO Curatorial Assistant, Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora, will open on May 6, 2023, and will run until May 2024.

Sunday School was founded by Josef Adamu, a Nigerian-Canadian creative director, in 2017. The agency brings together photographers, videographers, stylists, and models from across Africa and the Diaspora to create visual campaigns that straddle both commercial and fine art worlds. Their projects and partnerships extend from Los Angeles to Lagos.

According to Croning, Sunday School’s story is one of artistic collaboration and representation, with Black creatives telling Black stories that invite everyone in. She adds that their works present visual references reminiscent of famed African and African American photographers such as the late Kwame Brathwaite, Seydou Keïta, and James Barnor.

The exhibition will showcase photographs from three recent series: The Hair Appointment (2018), Ten Toes Down (2021), and Jump Ball (2019 – ongoing). The Hair Appointment series features poignant depictions of hair braiding, which is a cultural signifier of Black womanhood. Meanwhile, Ten Toes Down depicts a Black ballerina posing in her own home, revealing a longstanding lack of diversity in the dance world, where home is the body – a site for self-expression.

Croning states that the photographs in this exhibition remind viewers that home is rarely one place and can be created in each other’s company. She adds that some of these images have lived only on social media until recently, and displaying them in a museum context and on billboards is exciting. She describes the photographs as striking and important, encouraging viewers to visit the exhibition.