Arts & Entertainment

A Legacy Unfolding at the Varley

The Varley Art Gallery showcases A Legacy Unfolding, a solo exhibition by Markham resident and artist Shantel Miller.

The exhibition tackles the nuanced relationship between faith, spirituality and the church and the ways in which these are expressed within the artist’s Jamaican-Canadian community.

On view is a series of figurative paintings and photographs highlighting the people and traditions that make up the Legacy Christian Community Worship Centre in Markham.

Born in Toronto, Shantel Miller is a Jamaican-Canadian visual artist. She received an MFA in Painting at Boston University and a BFA in Drawing and Painting from the Ontario College of Art and Design. In 2021, she received the Dedalus Foundation MFA Fellowship in Painting and Sculpture, the Elizabeth Greenshield Award, the Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Fund and is currently the Ujima Boston Project Artist Fellow for 2022-2024.

As in previous works, Miller centres the Black body, examining how it moves through space and exists within it. The artist describes photography as a tool to document, while painting is a means of encountering and expressing what she sees. The combination of both mediums allows Miller to simultaneously observe and reflect on what happens around her.

Miller’s figurative paintings represent lived and imagined experiences that often situate the body in moments of vulnerability and introspection. As part of her creative process, she uses body language symbolically to suggest relationships of tension and intimacy, often depicting interior spaces with isolated moments of realism, alternating perspectives, and high-contrast colour relationships. Working in this way, Miller negotiates notions of a public and private self and explores ideas relevant to spirituality and existentialism in ordinary depictions of Black life.

Miller will be speaking at a lunch and learn on Oct. 18 and hosting an artist workshop on Nov. 25. Registration is required for both events which will be held at the gallery. 

Check out A Legacy Unfolding at the Varley Art Gallery from Sept. 16 to Jan. 7, 2024. 

For more information, visit


Image credit: Shantel Miller, Praying for a Lost and Broken Generation, 2023, oil on canvas, 60.9 cm x 76.2 cm. (Image courtesy of the artist)

Story submitted by Jessica Gedge.


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