West Wing Collection

Co-curated with MakeRoom Inc

– Sponsored by TD

Black Dreams
and Aspirations

Why are dreams important? And what does it mean to dream while Black? MakeRoom asked artists to respond to these questions through an open call.

This second instalment of a two-part series, curated by MakeRoom, features the works of six artists. They explore themes of community, self-possession, connection to the past, creativity, and the power of imagination.

The hopes we had in the past, individually and collectively, shape our present. The hopes we have in the present can shape our futures. The ability to create something new, something better, depends on our ability to dream it and the aspiration to make it a reality. We invite you to think about what these pieces reveal about Black dreams and aspirations. How do they make you feel about your dreams and the dreams of those around you?

More than a space that Canadians transit through, Union station is also a space-maker for culture and art, and a role model in community investment for accessible public art. Union’s partnership with MakeRoom Inc was born out of a shared mission to create spaces for local artists that are inclusive and diverse.

Day Dreaming, 2020 - Delali Cofie

Analogue Photography

Photograph of a Black man with his back to the camera, facing a vibrant sunset. The man is wearing cream pants, no shirt, and a necklace with a silver tree pendant in the middle of his back.

Photographed in 2020, this image of my friend Mansa was inspired by my admiration of his drive and courage to chase his dreams. Amid the most uncertain time in our early adult life, to me it felt like he was standing tall against a backdrop of possibility, constructing his own horizon. The process of creating this image caused me to think about the strength of the human spirit matching the beautiful force of the unknown. My approach to capturing that strength, through his pose and symmetry of the composition, was inspired by West African wood carvings, a practice that I watched my father do growing up.

Delali Cofie

Delali Cofie is a Ghanaian-Nigerian photographer currently living in Toronto, Canada. Through storytelling he engages in multiple genres of photography such as fine art, documentary, and fashion. His personal work presents subtle beauty whilst exploring themes of family, self-formation, and community. Frequently creating work between his native city Accra and current city Toronto, his work tells a tale of two cities, linked by a diasporic thread.

Danya/Elements - Iman Abbaro (Sudaneeya)

Analogue Photography

Photograph of a Black woman with long braids, a nose ring, dark eyeshadow, and full eyelashes whose head and torso are draped in a bright orange garment with gold detail. She is looking directly into the camera, and standing in a Sudanese shop.

This piece is of my cousin in a Sudanese garment store in Regent Park. It's from my ELEMENTS photography series, which started in 2020 to challenge the negative portrayal of our communities. I wanted to capture people from my community "in their element" existing freely, to remind ourselves and each other that we are more than our publicized trauma. As a year has now passed and the war in Sudan is still ongoing, I am inspired to portray the women in my community in a positive light. Sudanese women have been a staple as we collectively liberate ourselves. This image is a reminder to Sudanese people - and others affected by war - that the freedom we continue to dream of during these times is achievable.

Iman Abbaro (Sudaneeya)

Iman Abbaro, also known as Sudaneeya—is a Sudanese multidisciplinary creative currently based in Toronto. Her focus has been on curating a wide range of creative events that bring together and celebrate different aspects of the the African and Caribbean diasporas. Iman believes that creative expression is crucial to fostering communities, especially those in the margins.

Gèlè - Adetona Omokanye

Digital Photography

Photograph of the back of a Black model wearing a large ornate purple head wrap with gold detailing. The head wrap extends upwards diagonally, is tied at the bottom and has many creases and folds.

Gèlè is an ode to Yoruba women's agency and adventures, both as individuals and as a collective. It is a visual performance of identity, and a call to embrace one's roots with pride. Gèlè's intricate folds, fine creases and dynamic styles transcend mere fashion; it is a tapestry narrating the wearer's age, marital status, and societal role. Through this piece, I invite viewers to witness the convergence of tradition and modernity, of form and layers, recognizing the Gèlè as not just a piece of fabric or fashion accessory but a living testament to the undying spirit of the Yoruba culture in the heart of Toronto, Canada.

Adetona Omokanye

Adetona Omokanye (Lagos, Nigeria) is a photojournalist and visual artist living in Toronto, Canada. His work explores Africa’s rich and diverse cultures, capturing its traditions, people, and social issues through the lens of their unique perspectives. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, He uses photography as a tool to showcase the beauty, complexity, and diversity of Africans in diaspora. His works are included in public and private art collections.

Interconnect - Ridge Levene

Digital Illustration

Digital illustration of a young Black boy looking up at a Black man, who is looking back down at him. Both figures have purple skin, yellow hair, and visible sketch outlines. They are looking at each other through a spacescape with stars and a supernova.

This piece is my emotional and personal representation of how the Black man manifests his goals through interpersonal reflection. As a young boy the future seems so tangible and exciting, but societal pressures and racial barriers create a disconnect for him. As the Black man grows older and finds new ways to navigate these tribulations, he reflects back to his younger self and has a better sense of how to better bring his dreams to life. Through this piece I wanted to showcase that there is more than meets the eye to me and all black men alike.

Ridge Levene

Since the age of 6, Ridge Levene's love of art allowed him to express himself through different mediums. He graduated from George Brown with a diploma in Graphic Design. Ridge's ability to connect with vast audiences is shown in his collaboration with the Barrett Family Foundation and his successful art showcase in June 2022. Eager for his next exhibition, Ridge's art continues to be innovative, authentic, and transformative.

Generational Melody - Troydel Wallace

Digital Illustration

Digital illustration of a Black woman with long braids rendered in deep purple tones, wearing gold clothes, and jewlery. She is playing a golden violin.

Inspired by a personal quest to illuminate the intrinsic value of blackness in Western culture, my gold-style artwork is a poignant metaphor for worth, aspirations, and growth. Visual elements depict a black woman playing a plant-made violin, symbolizing music passing through generations—a representation of a collective imagination. Much like a passionate rhythm resonating in our hearts, transcending time, and echoing through generations, this piece mirrors the collective aspirations of the African Diaspora to elevate every unique quality that defines us culturally, physically, and spiritually. It echoes a timeless melody that celebrates who we are as a people.

Troydel Wallace

Troydel Wallace is a Jamaican-born, Toronto-based Digital and Visual Artist who applies the element of gold as a fluid tool to tell visual stories. Driven by a passion for uplifting the African community, his artworks are rooted in Afro-Futurism and Afro-Punk aesthetics. Embracing his Caribbean heritage, Troydel's GOLD-themed art boldly celebrates African beauty and culture, in abstract surreal ways. With a mission to inspire and uplift, he channels his artistic calling to make a meaningful impact on society.

A Braille Transcription - Theodore Walker Robinson

Braille Transcription

Braille transcription: Hold fast to, dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams, For when dreams go, Life is a barren field, Frozen with snow. - Langston Hughes

Depicted is a contracted Braille Transcription of Langston Hughes poem "Dreams." By transcribing this poem and making it accessible to the Blind community, I wish to inspire Blind, low vision and visually impaired Black people to never defer their dreams and to treat every idea as a world of ardent possibility that requires sustenance to live and grow. Blind dreams matter. Black Blind dreams matter.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

- Langston Hughes

Theodore Walker Robinson

Theodore Walker Robinson is a Black, low-vision, hard-of-hearing, nonbinary broadcaster, singer, textile artist, and nonprofit executive. Theodore was born to parents of Maroon Jamaican and Afro-Chinese Trinidadian descent. As a singer, Theodore explores transgender voices in Jazz music. Their textile art practice explores West African heritage fabrics and Blind / Low Vision methodologies and pedagogical practice. As a creative consultant, Theodore focuses on providing recommendations to arts and culture agencies on accessibility for people with disabilities.