Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Zainub Verjee was educated in England and immigrated to Canada in the early 1970s. She has seamlessly played multiple roles and has shaped culture policy at all levels of government and was instrumental in building cultural institutions and organizations in Canada and internationally. Fuelled by passion, vision and a staunch conviction that art is a public good, Zainub is regularly invited to speak nationally and internationally and has been published in numerous academic, cultural and critical fora.
Zainub co-founded the critically acclaimed In Visible Colours: An International Film/Video Festival & Symposium for Third World Women and Women of Colour. Among many appointments to boards, she is proud of her work at the B.C. Arts Board, which led to the formation of the British Columbia Arts Council. She is the executive director of the Ontario Association of Art Galleries, in Toronto, and lives in Mississauga, Ontario.
“Working with as much regard for the centre as for the periphery, Verjee’s modus operandi has been one of developing platforms for the disparate constituents of the Canadian artistic community . . . throughout her career in arts administration, she has managed to leaven effective space for ‘wild’ innovation and ‘undisciplined’ dissent. She has channelled these disruptive energies towards achieving change at the heart of power, while maintaining some degree of functional harmony for the whole.
As early as the 1980s, Zainub had begun to address what have since become the formative themes in Canadian visual and media arts. Through her art practice, critical writings, distribution activities, programming, policy work and leadership, she has taken bold and challenging positions on questions of diversity, access, technology and artist's rights. All these issues have become pillars in the formation of the sector.”
Nominator: Niranjan Rajah, Assistant Professor, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University, Artist, Theorist, Curator
“Through her art practice, critical writings, distribution activities, programming, policy work and leadership, she has taken bold and challenging positions on questions of diversity, access, technology and artist's rights.”