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Black excellence: Artist uses African, Indigenous techniques to make pots, robot sculptures and more

P.J. Anderson . P.J. Anderson

P.J. Anderson is an artist and MFA candidate with a talent for ceramics.

“It’s just I really like making vessels, like, making actual pots,” Anderson said in an interview.

Click to play video: '41st Annual Black History Month Celebration' 41st Annual Black History Month Celebration
41st Annual Black History Month Celebration – Feb 3, 2022

“That’s what I love to do, and it’s my happy place.

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Originally from Thompson, Man., Anderson is of both Indigenous and African descent. When she’s creating, she incorporates techniques from both cultures in her work.

Pot by P.J. Anderson. P.J. Anderson

Anderson says her current project is something that’s pushing her well out of her comfort zone – a human-sized sculpture of a robot.

Read more: ‘Stories of Black excellence’ missing from Canadian history, educators say

“I wanted to do something different, that was out of character, that was just trying something new.”

The one thing Anderson is missing is a larger sense of community around pottery.

Read more: ‘Celebrating Black Excellence’ puts spotlight on Black Maritimers making an impact

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“I wish that there was more interest or more ability for the Black community in Manitoba to make pots, because it’s like a really strong part of most cultural practices throughout almost all of Africa that I’ve heard about,” she said.

“I really wish that there was more ways that I could make those kinds of connections to introduce it to more children of colour.”

Sculpture by P.J. Anderson. P.J. Anderson

When it comes to Black History Month, Anderson says she feels strange about the topic.

“I personally feel like a lot of companies seem to go out of their way to disenfranchise Black people, suddenly, you’re super pro-Black people. Same thing with gay Pride month,” she said.

Read more: Black History Month — How Robert Sutherland saved Queen’s University

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“If we know about the Canadian contributions of Black people and Indigenous people … then we shouldn’t need a Black History Month.”

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