NSCAD Graduation Catalogue


Ryan Josey

BFA Fine Art

BA Art History



It’s Not Purple
It’s Not Purple was the result of a three-month mentor-mentee collaboration between Ryan Josey and Brendan Fernandes. The work was performed during the Lilac Art Series (August 2015) and curated by Melina Wang. The performance responded to the history of the retired service vessel, the U.S. Lighthouse Tender LILAC and the nearby history of New York’s West Village, where the vessel now rests. Of the work the artists state:

It’s Not Purple is a denunciation, but also a corrective.”

It is a collaborative performance between Canadian artists, Brendan Fernandes and Ryan Josey, exploring the dynamics of their pedagogical relationship and a common interest in performance, poetics and the affects of language in space. The piece references the gendered experience of the sea evoked through gendered labour, materials, colour and the gendered history of the site – the U.S. Lighthouse Tender LILAC, herself. Taking performative cues from the storied queer performances of the Lavender Menace and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, It’s Not Purple suggests its own queer perspective through equal parts cleansing, honoring and reparative gestures” (www.lilacarts.org).

Image courtesy the LILAC Arts Series. Photographer, Arianna Martinez.

     Constellation (Vorspiel)
Exhibited at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in January 2016, Constellation (Vorspiel) accompanied Ryan Josey’s exhibition of the same name, Vorspiel. The window work presented the title of the exhibition as digitally-manipulated marine signal code flags, stencilled onto the glass. Catching and disrupting the view and reflection of Halifax’s iconic Purdy’s Wharf towers, the piece attempted to connect the content of exhibition with the context of contemporary Nova Scotia. While the flags themselves tied the work to the regions colonial and naval history, the German title “vorspiel” (trans: “prelude”; “foreplay”; or “pre-drinking”) alluded to the duality of the towers and the economic development they represent in the region. The double translation required to de-code the work suggests and mimics the complexity and interconnectivity of the colonial; queer; and regional dialogues Josey’s practice addresses.

On Colloquialism, settler-indigenous scholar Amanda Shore (NSCAD, BA 2015) writes:

“Overlaid on a photograph of his grandfather and great-grandfather’s wharf in Spry Bay, Nova Scotia are two rows of purple text painted in gouache. The two rows of purple text reference the Two-Row wampum: one of the earliest and most cited treaties between settlers and Indigenous nations. This beaded belt consists of two parallel lines of purple wampum beads on a white background, symbolizing the British government and the Six Nations Confederacy each travelling down the same river without interfering with one another. Josey’s text reads, “have you ever walked into a room and forgotten what you came in for?” describing a dull feeling of unease upon realizing one’s own settler amnesia. This is a work which didn’t strike me on my first encounter with it, but that still keeps me up at night, illustrating a nuanced feeling that I still can’t quite put my finger on. I encourage other settler Canadians, particularly in academia, to pay attention to that dull ache of forgetfulness toward place and land—and to grapple repeatedly with the feeling of trying to remember something that you never really knew in the first place.”

Shore, Amanda. “Racial Pageantry & Settler Responsibility”. Presented at 1st Annual SNARCon, hosted by SNARC (Students Advocating Representative Curricula) at University of King’s College on January 16, 2016.

Collaborator: Brendan Fernandes