Artist Project
May 8 - 11, 2025
Better Living Centre, Exhibition PlaceToronto
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This month, we are happy to spotlight the intersection of art and heritage with a special interview with Pixel Heller. A multimedia visual artist based in Toronto, her Moko Jumbie masquerade character performance at the Artist Project 2024 Opening Night Preview will be a celebration across diasporic communities.  

Tell us about your practice.   
My name is Pixel Heller, and I'm a multimedia visual artist based in Toronto. My practice draws inspiration from diverse cultural influences, particularly masquerade traditions. Through various mediums, including paintings, drawings, textiles, and performances, I explore themes of identity, cultural heritage, and Black celebration. My goal is to create artwork that resonates with vibrancy and empowerment, reflecting the richness of cultural diversity in contemporary societies.

Can you explain Moko Jumbie?   
Moko Jumbie is a traditional masquerade character with roots in West Africa. Typically portrayed as walking on stilts, the Moko Jumbie represents ancestral spirits and guardianship. The term "Moko" means spirit or ancestral presence, while "Jumbie" refers to a ghost or spirit in the Caribbean. Originating as a symbol of protection, Moko Jumbies historically presided over carnival seasons in Trinidad. Today, Moko Jumbie performances continue to embody cultural heritage, resilience, and celebration across diasporic communities. 

How is it important to you and your community?

The importance of Moko Jumbie in my community lies in its embodiment of cultural resilience and celebration. Stemming from the act of rebellion against oppression, carnival traditions like Moko Jumbie represent a reclaiming of cultural identity and a defiance of colonial legacies. The Moko Jumbie holds a significant place, personally, as a symbol of ancestral connection and pride. It serves as a reminder of our community's strength and endurance, echoing the spirit of resistance and joy, encompassing all of the things I feel when performing.  

What are you going to be doing at Artist Project? 

I am thrilled to announce I will be performing at Artist Project's Opening Night Preview. Additionally, I'm honoured to be featured in the Untapped section, showcasing my paintings which will also be available for purchase. My presence aims to bring a fresh perspective and unique vision to Artist Project.

Photos by Tsemaye Tite