David Ainsley Woods: Artist, community builder and curator of African Nova Scotian stories
Dalhousie is presenting David Ainsley Woods with an honorary degree at a Fall Convocation ceremony in November 2022. Honorary degrees are awarded to individuals across a wide range of disciplines and achievements. They recognize people who have shown inspirational leadership, outstanding contributions to a field or discipline of study or a non‐academic area of achievement, and/or outstanding achievement or contributions to Dalhousie. Candidates are reviewed and recommended by the Senate Honorary Degrees Committee and approved by the university Senate.
Whether or not they’ve previously graduated from Dalhousie, all honorary degree recipients become Dal alumni. They represent Dal’s supporters and friends, and we are grateful in the Office of Advancement for the many ways they enrich our community.
Celebrated artist and educator
David Woods’s self-taught artistic pursuits include poetry, acting, directing, playwriting, painting and even quilting. But he is also a researcher and community builder who pictures possibility in all theatres of society and, through colour and collaboration, conjures it into existence. Woods creations, performances and works have frequently touched upon essential stories of the African Nova Scotian and African Canadian experience, including the current national tour of his curated exhibition of African Nova Scotian quilts, The Secret Code.
As associate curator of the Nova Scotia Art Gallery, he mounted the first ever exhibit on African Canadian visual art. He has founded many longstanding arts and cultural groups including the Black Artists Network of Nova Scotia, the New Brunswick Black Artists Alliance and the Cultural Awareness Youth Group of Nova Scotia. And his research work has shone a spotlight on undertold stories of the African Canadian experience, from landscape painter Edward Mitchell Bannister to the now-famous story of civil rights activist Viola Desmond.
Woods is a past recipient of the Nova Scotia Poetry Award and the George Elliott Clark Literary Award and in 2017 received the prestigious Harry Jerome Award for Arts and Entertainment.
This is his first honorary degree.