An important part of the Yarmouth area’s history is the focus of an art exhibit that is now a permanent part of the Yarmouth County Museum, where an official kickoff for the display was held this past weekend.
The exhibit – titled Reminiscences: A Retrospective on Yarmouth’s African Nova Scotian Community – features paintings by Yarmouth artist Tootsie Emin.
Painted by Emin for an African Heritage Month display last year at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Yarmouth, the pieces had gone back into Emin’s home gallery once that display was over.
Thanks to funding from a number of sources, the Yarmouth County Historical Society was able to purchase the exhibit from Emin in order to make it part of the collection at the Yarmouth County Museum.
Those involved in the effort to acquire the exhibit included Sharon Robart-Johnson, a member-at-large of the board of directors of the Yarmouth County Historical Society and one of the speakers at the exhibit’s March 16 official opening.
She expressed thanks to the historical society’s board for recognizing the role of the black community in the Yarmouth area’s history and for giving her committee the go-ahead to raise the funds needed to purchase Emin’s collection.
“The Yarmouth County Museum and Archives is now a more inclusive museum with the addition of this exhibit,” she said. “First Nations peoples are recognized, the Acadians are recognized, and now, so are we.”
She expressed appreciation to those whose donations helped make the acquisition possible, including African Nova Scotian Affairs, the Yarmouth Area Community Fund, Yarmouth Recreation and Coastal Financial Credit Union.
These donations, she said, “will go a long way towards ensuring that this exhibit can also be a travelling exhibit for others to enjoy as much as we do.”
Tracey Thomas, senior policy analyst with African Nova Scotian Affairs and another of the afternoon’s speakers, said her office was proud to contribute to the Yarmouth County Museum’s acquisition of Emin’s paintings. She said she hopes those who view the paintings will take the time to learn the story behind each of them.
She added that the exhibit goes well with this year’s African Nova Scotian history theme: Our History is Your History.
“It shows that the African Nova Scotian story, (whether) in Yarmouth or in any part of Nova Scotia, is really part of the overall Nova Scotian story,” she said. “We really are kind of all in this together and our stories are so intertwined.”
As for Emin – who also was on hand for Saturday’s opening – she said this project was a chance for her to celebrate the accomplishments of the local black community and share them with everyone.
“Hopefully this is going to be an educational exhibit,” she said.