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Michaëlle Sergile

To Hold A Smile

Installation, 2019
Screenprint on cotton fabric, wood, video performance
Dimensions variable

With a keen interest in rewriting history through weaving, Michaëlle Sergile often reworks primarily texts and books on postcolonial theory. As early as 1952, in Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon wrote of the power relations between colonizers and colonized peoples, as well as between black individuals and their community. This major work gave rise to the coding system used by Sergile to weave books and passages that bring cultural identity into question.

The lexicon of weaving is closely analogous to identity issues. When weaving, threads are intertwined and create intersections, like discourses taking shape. At times, they replicate a blend of cultures, where fabric becomes a crossroad of cultural differences. At others, they reveal the crossing of intersectional thoughts.

The artist thus views weaving as a defence mechanism against past and future injustice—an armour of sorts that blossoms not only into a work of art, but also a statement. Just as Josh Faught used weaving as a tool against certain kinds of discrimination, the fabrics created by Michaëlle Sergile relate and make visible stories that had subsided into silence.

In her most recent work, To Hold A Smile, the artist creates a dialogue with three interpretations of the acclaimed poem ‘We Wear The Mask.’ The long cotton scroll begins with the original verses written by eminent American author Paul Lawrence Dunbar in 1895. Midway, it is inscribed with an adaptation by Maya Angelou (a great admirer of Dunbar); close to the bottom near the floor are lines written by Sergile herself in Haitiian creole. While Dunbar’s poem emphasized laughter as a survival mechanism, Sergile has created a work infused with tension as the text ironically contrasts with the grueling and arduous projection of the artist’s forced ‘smile.’

Michaëlle Sergile is an artist and curator currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Fibres and Textiles at Concordia University.  Primarily examining texts and books from the postcolonial period from 1950 to the present, her artistic practice aims to understand and rewrite the history of Black communities, and more specifically of women, through weaving. Often perceived as a medium of craftsmanship and categorized as feminine, the artist deploys the lexicon of weaving to question relationships of gender and race.

She has exhibited at the ArtHelix Gallery in New York, the Miami Art Fair, and has participated in several group exhibitions in Montreal, including at Place des Arts, Art Mûr gallery, and the Conseil des Arts de Montréal. She has been the recipient of several awards and scholarships during her academic career.

Sergile is currently project manager and curator for the Nigra Iuventa platform, where she co-curated Subalternes, an exhibition created by and for black women in Quebec. Inspired by the autobiography of American author Maya Angelou, Sergile co-curated Je sais pourquoi chante l’oiseau en cage, which was shown in succession at the Darling Foundry, the Centre culturel Georges-Vanier, and UQAM’s Centre de diffusion et d’expérimentation last February.

Michaëlle Sergile


2019 – Maîtrise en Fibres and Material Practices, Université de Concordia

2015-2018 Baccalauréat en Arts visuels et médiatiques, Université du Québec à Montréal

2013-2015 Baccalauréat en Psychologie et Sociologie, Université de Montréal (Non terminé)

2011-2013 DEC en Cinéma et Communications, Cégep de Saint-Laurent, Montréal


2020 «Je sais pourquoi chante l’oiseau en cage», CDEx (Montréal, Québec)
2020 «Je sais pourquoi chante l’oiseau en cage», Centre culturel Georges-Vanier (Montréal, Québec)
2020 «Je sais pourquoi chante l’oiseau en cage», Fonderie Darling (Montréal, Québec)

2019 «Subalternes», CDEx (Montréal, Québec)


2019 «Michaëlle Sergile, Rihab Essayh, Colas Eko», Conseil des Arts de Montréal (Montréal, Québec)
2019 «Artch», Square Dorchester (Montréal, Québec)
2019 «Passage à découvert», Galerie de l’UQÀM (Montréal, Québec)
2019 «Subalternes», CDEx (Montréal, Québec)
2019 «Paramètres IV», Place Des Arts (Montréal, Québec)

2018 «Peinture fraîche et nouvelle construction », Art Mûr (Montréal, Québec)
2018 «Repaire variable», Local du collectif À Louer, (Montréal, Québec)
2018 «Se réapproprier la narration», CDEx, (Montréal, Québec)

2017 «Transformation», Le Livart (Montréal, Québec)
2017 «Tales of Human Identity», Aqua Art Fair, (Miami, États-Unis)
2017 «Tales of Human Identity II», Galerie Popop, Belgo (Montréal, Québec)
2017 «Tales of Human Identity», Shim, ArtHelix, Brooklyn, (New York, États-Unis)


2020 Résidence Mission Biennale de Dakar 2020, Dakar, Sénégal. 

2018-2019 Politiques + (In)visibles, Artexte, Montréal, Québec.


2020 Bourse Fonds de recherche Société et culture FRQSC.

2019 Bourse de création ARTCH, Art Souterrain.
2019 Prix Jean Pitre et Claude Leclerc, Galerie de l’UQÀM.
2019 Peter N Thompson Fellowship, Concordia.
2019 Prix d’excellence en Arts Visuels, Place des Arts, UQÀM.

2017 Bourse de déplacement UQÀM, Symposium universitaire.


2020 Assistante recherchiste pour l’artiste multidisciplinaire Nadia Myre (en cours).
2020 Artiste invitée à la création d’ateliers pour la Fondation PHI (en cours).
2020 Assistante enseignante, Confection de papier (Papermaking) à l’Université de Concordia, sous la supervision de l’artiste Ashley Miller.

2018- Directrice artistique, chargée de projet et commissaire à Nigra Iuventa, une organisation qui s’intéresse aux narrations des communautés noires francophones.


Textes et livres de l’artiste

Sergile, Michaëlle, dans À Louer : Repaire Variable, Montréal, École des arts visuels et médiatiques de l’Université du Québec à Montréal, 2018

Sergile, Michaëlle, «Colombiciacon», Inter, Art actuel, Montréal, 2018


Clément, Hélène. Le Devoir. Des femmes noires sortent de l’ombre, 8 février 2019, bre

Delgado, Jerome. Le Devoir. Squat Autorisé, 21 avril 2018,

Canadian Art. Must-sees this week : May 18 to 24, 2017, 18 mai 2017,