At 15, Gary Weekes considered himself “a decent artist.” Now, he’s exhibiting his work at The Gallery on Queen as part of his DiasporaArt exhibition, hosted by the New Brunswick Black Artists Alliance.
“What I want to achieve with this exhibition is just an awareness that there are other Black people, other Black artists out there who just need the opportunities, or to show what they do,” said Weekes.
The photo series features a section of photographs of people and their rings called History in Their Hands.
“I believe that everyone who wears a ring knows the story of that ring, whether it was found or given, stolen and refound, from any age,” said Weekes.
After Weekes takes their picture, he gives them the photo to write that story on top of the image.
Weekes is a Black artist, but the connection between race and art is something he says doesn’t define him.
“Whenever I enter a room, they see me as a Black photographer, not just a photographer,” Weekes said. “At the end of the night, I deserve to be here whether I was white or Black. But I do believe that I’m fully aware and I embrace my skin colour, but I’m more than just my skin colour.”
Weekes was born in England and grew up in New York. Before he found photography, he pursued drawing.
“I copy well, so I was doing album covers on the backs of Levi’s jackets as a kid growing up in New York,” said Weekes.
But he said he wasn’t sure his talent was in illustration and he soon found his true love behind the camera. From a high school photography program to a professional career, Weekes has been around the proverbial block.
“I put down the paint brushes because the paint took too long to dry and decided to embark upon taking pictures,” said Weekes.
His exhibition was opened on Facebook live, which he said was an adjustment compared to traditional exhibitions. The opening contained only essential personnel to give statements about the art.
Weekes is also a father of three girls, and said they are part of what spurs his art, because he wants to be a father they can be proud of.
“I work hard for them. They work hard for me. We work hard together and we will support one another, because we’re proud of each other’s successes.”