Deanna Bowen is the descendant of two Black pioneer families who moved from Alabama and Kentucky to settle in Amber Valley and Campsie on the Alberta prairie. Born in 1969 in Oakland, California, the artist currently divides her time between Toronto and Montreal.
Through a repertoire of artistic gestures, Bowen’s work defines the Black body, tracing its presence and movement in time and place. Since the early 1990s, the core of her auto-ethnographic interdisciplinary practice has been her family history. In recent years, she has focused on a close examination of her family’s migration and their connections to Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley and Black Strathcona, the “All-Black” towns of Oklahoma, the Exoduster migration and the Ku Klux Klan.
Bowen has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Scotiabank Photography Award (2021), a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2020), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2016), and the William H. Johnson Prize (2014). Previous exhibitions include The God of Gods: Berlin, Berlin (2020) and God of Gods: A Canadian Play (2019). Her writing, interviews and art have been featured in Canadian Art, The Capilano Review, The Black Prairie Archives: An Anthology and Transition Magazine. She was also editor of the 2019 anthology Other Places: Reflections on Media Arts in Canada.