As part of the Daily’s Black History Month issue, our Illustrations Editor, Eve Cable, is highlighting eight Black Montreal-based visual artists. From Kezna Dal’s vibrant illustrations to Nakademini’s intimate portrait pieces, Montreal’s art scene features phenomenal art from Black creators.
Kezna Dalz (known as @teenadultt on Instagram) is a visual artist who uses both digital and traditional illustrative styles in her work. Dalz works with ‘pop neo-expressionism,’ depicting “black women in their intimacy, in their solitary and loving dialogues, social and political.” She recently collaborated with author Shanice Nicole on the children’s book Dear Black Girls, a project she says was healing to work on, and that she would have liked to offer her childhood self.
Esther Calixte-Bea is a recent graduate from Concordia’s Fine Arts program, and a body hair activist whose work focuses on identity, beauty, and vulnerability. Her practice involves different mediums – while her primary medium is acrylic, she has received international acclaim for her photography in The Lavender Project, a self-portrait series about body hair. Calixte-Bea is also featured on the cover of the Daily’s Black History Month issue.
Danielle Murrell Cox
Danielle Murrell Cox is a graphic designer and illustrator. She creates prints, pins, stickers, colouring books, and plush toys, and is the author of the children’s book My Hair. Her diverse portfolio touches on a variety of themes, including representation, identity, and activism.
Chloe Awali Cavis-Haie
Chloe Awali Cavis-Haie is a Montreal and Toronto-based designer who is “dedicated to designing strategies and media that inspires change.” She seeks to work with “industry disruptors,” and has created visuals for Cannabits Montréal, the Black Indigenous Harm Reduction Alliance, and the non-profit organisation Stella. Cavis-Haie is also an equity consultant, working with organisations such as Pride Montreal, as well as Concordia and McGill Universities, leading conflict de-escalation workshops and addressing intersectionality in the LGBTQ+ community.
Shanna Strauss is a mixed-media visual artist and community organizer whose work explores the African Diaspora, identity, and belonging. Her mixed-media designs predominantly feature images of people who represent a part of [her] and the different communities [she is] connected to.” Strauss notes the inherently political nature of her art, and how who she depicts in her work reflects her identity: “The people I portray tell a part of my story and are threads in the web of my kinship and the broader Diaspora.”
Noka Palm Trees
Noka Palm Trees is a multi-disciplinary artist who creates work that “stems from afrocentric surrealism as a coping mechanism for navigating neurodivergency and unjust systems of oppression.” Working with both digital art and poetry, Noka Palm Trees invites their audience to “witness the rediscovering of [their] many selves through the shedding of intergenerational trauma and growing into (black) softness through [their] seasoned culture.” Their work features bright neon colours, outlandish performances and a unique blend of aesthetics from the ‘70s to the 90s.’
Zolani Stewart is a graphic designer whose writing and visual designs inform his illustrations and brand work. Stewart has worked on booklet designs, album artwork, and advertising for Ray-Ban. With a wide ranging style and an eye for bold colours, Stewart is one of Montreal’s most notable designers.
Naskademini is a portrait photographer who works with high-profile brands such as Nike, Little Burgundy, and Timberlands. Naskademini has created a sleek professional portfolio, allowing him to achieve his dream of photographing intimate portraits of people such as Malala, Dominique Anglade and Thundercat. Beyond his portraiture projects, Naskademini also produces some experimental art, which can be found on his website.