If you find yourself in the west wing of Toronto’s Union Station, you’ll be able to see Here Again, At the Crossroads, an art installation that brings together three contemporary Black artists who explore what exactly it means to be at a “crossroads.”
The exhibit was made possible by the Nia Centre for the Arts, Toronto’s first Black arts center, and Union Station. Sponsored by TD, it was slated as part of Union’s Black History Month programming before being pushed back due to Ontario’s stay-at-home order.
Three different artists contributed to Here Again, At the Crossroads, including mixed-media artist Jordan Sook and poet Jayda Marley (a.k.a. The Poet MJ)—both from Toronto—and New York photographer Andre Wagner.
“One of the things that I find interesting is that trains are symbolic of ingenuity and power and progress,” says Sook. “Being at this ‘crossroad’ in conjunction with the idea of the train gives an outlook of being at a place where we’re able to make better progress going forward.”
Sook contributed a 15-foot tall, 20-foot wide, 24-foot deep installation called Thank You for Keeping Us On Track, which pays tribute to the Black Canadian train porters who formed the first Black railway union in 1917. It consists of over 2,400 hats, each representing one of the train porters themselves.
“I feel a spiritual connection to the train porters in that it being the year 2021, almost 100 years ago, it’s very likely me as a 28-year-old, healthy Black male living in Toronto would likely be working on one of those trains, per se. There’s definitely an akin sort of dialogue happening there between myself and the porters.”
Here Again, At the Crossroads is Andre Wagner’s first time being exhibited in Canada, with three of his photos being presented to highlight “the tug of war between the American dream and what it means to be Black in America.”
The Poet MJ’s poem “A Ticket to the Revolution” is displayed throughout the installation on large posters. At an open table Zoom discussion about the exhibit, she emphasized the importance of keeping the conversation going long past the ongoing rise of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. “I think we can do these art installations, but eventually they come down. I think we can have these conversations but eventually they die out… This moment is good, it’s good to see all the education. There are people who are learning, but we need to know that this moment is not just a moment. It needs to progress further.”
Here Again, At the Crossroads will be on display until May 31. If you can’t make it to Union Station by then, you can also check out the exhibit digitally.