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Racquel Rowe

Saltwater Cures All

March 23 - June 2, 2024

Racquel Rowe, Bodies of Water, 2023. Filmed by Malik Mings and featuring Kesean Abrams. Courtesy of the artist.


The expression saltwater cures all is commonly spoken in the Caribbean as a recommended antidote. For Waterloo based performance and video artist, Racquel Rowe, the decision to adopt the phrase as the title of this exhibition emerged as she floated with her sister in the Atlantic Ocean during a visit home to her birthplace, Barbados, where she first developed a deep connection to water.

In this body of work, Rowe uses performative action and storytelling to better understand and articulate her personal and familial connections to the water as well as the history of Black bodies and the Atlantic Ocean. As a former British colony and the birthplace of British slave society, Barbados was built on a foundation of racial debasement and suppression. Within this dark legacy, the ocean can be perceived as a conduit of death and dehumanizing practices, but it also birthed the Black Atlantic—a term that was popularized in 1993 by author Paul Gilroy to describe the fusion of Black cultures with other cultures as a result of the slave trade. Gilroy suggested that the complex cultural identities that emerged from this cannot be explained by any singular experience; it transcends narratives related to nation state and race, moving towards an understanding and celebration of in-betweenness and hybridity.

Filmed in multiple locations across Barbados and Southern Ontario, Rowe describes Saltwater Cures All, as “a body of work birthed between multiple places both physically and metaphorically…the works conceptually explore the formation of the Black Atlantic, Caribbean folklore and myths, personal, and familial connections to the sea, relationships between Black people and water, and the idea of rebirth.”


About the artist:

Racquel Rowe is an interdisciplinary artist from the island of Barbados currently residing in Canada. She’s exhibited widely across the country and holds an MFA from the University of Waterloo and a BA(Hons) in History and Studio Art from the University of Guelph. Her practice is continuously influenced by many aspects of history, matrilineal family structures, diasporic communities, and her upbringing in Barbados. Her work takes the form of performance, video, site-specific work, and installation. 


Affiliated programming:

Opening Reception - Saturday March 23, 2024 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Panel Discussion - Saturday March 23, 2024 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm 

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Sunday 12:00pm - 4:00pm

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