Ashley McKenzie-Barnes


Creative Director

Ashley is an award-winning creative director, curator and academic professor with over 17 years of experience. Recently launching D.PE Agency and DPE Sho Art Foundation, Ashley’s work focuses on how to be more reflective of a diverse creative community.

Most recently she led the launch of the international campaign for Universal Music Canada’s newest soul sensation Emanuel’s single Black Woman, which she was also profiled in. In 2020, she was the Curator for Canada’s longest running Black History festival, KUUMBA at Harbourfront Centre, and one of the main 2019 curators for Nuit Blanche Toronto. Her work has included programmed exhibitions, creative collaborations and installations for companies such as CIBC Square, Bombay Sapphire, Universal Music, Scotiabank, Samsung, Sabian, Bell Media, TEDxToronto, Artscape and Manifesto Festival. Skillfully executing within a variety of spaces including DIY hubs, traditional galleries, or institutions like the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) and the City of Toronto. Her design skills were most recently acquired by Lauryn Hill for her fashion collection celebrating 20 years of the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

She’s been a featured speaker, moderator, and guest facilitator across many forums for Mayor John Tory, FreshBooks, #MoveTheDial, RBC, OCAD, Ontario Arts Council, TDSB, Ontario Association of Art Galleries, UofT, ArtReach, Nia Centre for the Arts, Artscape and many others.

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Our work takes place on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples that is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Learn more