John Manson, AGGV Gallery Shop Coordinator, presents a new Reading List focusing on books by Black authors and artists in celebration of Kemi Craig's program, Blackspace Library.

Each season, the Gallery Shop presents a Reading List of ten books that we carry.  This winter, the reading list celebrates the AGGV’s Blackspace Library  program by Kemi Craig. This program started on September 12 and is an ongoing project located at multiple locations, and in Kemi’s words it centers:

“Black communities, Black experiences, Black thought, and Black possibilities.”

The books in these libraries include art books, graphic novels, science fiction, Afrofuturism, horror, and more, all by Black authors and artists. Several of the locations are continuing to maintain the libraries as community resources. We have many of the titles from the Blackspace Library program available for purchase in the Gallery Shop as well, including all the books on this list.

1. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Audre Lorde)
A collection of fifteen essays and speeches, in which renowned writer Audre Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, while offering insight and messages of hope.

2. The Last Interview and Other Conversations (Octavia E. Butler)
This compilation features 10 interviews with Octavia E. Butler, in which she speaks with candor and openness about her work, her imaginative mission, and the barriers she faced as a Black woman working in a genre dominated by white men.

3. Skin of the Sea (Natasha Bowen)
An epic and original work about a Mami Wata who collects the souls lost at sea and guides their journey back home. Nigerian/Welsh writer Natasha Bowen weaves together threads of fantasy, adventure, folklore, and spirituality.

4. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
This dark fantasy/horror novel tells the story of a journalist and her doomed but compelling romance with an Immortal. Tananarive Due is known as a leading voice in modern horror literature.

5. Nubia: Queen of the Amazons (Stephanie Williams and Vita Ayala)
A DC Universe Graphic Novel telling the story of Nubia, Queen of the Amazons as she leaves Themyscira to defend her sisterhood, and encounters a villain from her past.


Featured Book: In the Black Fantastic by Ekow Eshun. Courtesy of the AGGV


6. In the Black Fantastic (Ekow Eshun)
This visually stunning piece assembles art and imagery from across the African diaspora. Embracing the mythic and the speculative, it reconfigures and reimagines elements of fable, science fiction, ceremonial pageantry, and the legacies of Afrofuturism.

7. B-Side (Henry Taylor)
A documentation of the expansive Whitney Museum retrospective showing Henry Taylor’s illustrious painting career which spanned more than thirty years.

8. The UmuEze Amara Clan and House of Obafemi (Toyin Ojih Odutola)
An illustrated story chronicling the lives of two fictional aristocratic Nigerian families set in Odutola’s layered visual world.


Blackspace Library in Liberty Barbers, Victoria, BC.  Featured Books A New Republic by Kehinde Wiley, The UmuEze Amara Clan and House of Obafemi by Toyin Ojih Odutola, Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, Nubia: Queen of the Amazons by Stephanie Williams and Vita Ayala, and B-Side by Henry Taylor.   Courtesy of the AGGV


9. A New Republic (Kehinde Wiley)
Wiley deconstructs and repurposes European conventions of portraiture to depict Black men and women in historical and contemporary settings. Wiley uses pattern, contrast, and composition to raise questions about race, gender, and the politics of representation.

10. The Look of Things: A Visual Essay (Carrie Mae Weems)
A culmination of Weems’ forty-year long career, this catalogue shows how she uses her photography practice to investigate narratives around power and consequences.

Written by John Manson, AGGV Gallery Shop Coordinator

Featured Image: December 2023 Reading List. Courtesy of the AGGV.