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Addressing systemic issues through art — University Affairs – University Affairs



Concordia professor curates historical exhibition of Black Canadian works.

Joana Joachim was still a student when the idea first came to her for a project highlighting Black Canadian art history. While doing her master’s in museum studies at Université de Montréal, she took part in a group residency at Artexte, an arts organization in downtown Montreal. The students developed a bibliography for Black and Asian Canadian art, in response to how those groups have faced exclusion from historically Eurocentric art institutions.

“I had the distinct feeling that we had only just scratched the surface, and I tucked that in the back of my mind as a thing to revisit someday.” She is now doing just that with Blackity, an exhibition that traces the major moments – and, importantly, gaps – in the story of Black artists in Canada. It launched at Artexte in September and will run until the end of June.

Dr. Joachim, who was recently appointed assistant professor of Black studies at Concordia University in art education, art history, and social justice, said the willingness of Artexte to address systemic issues in the art world was important to the genesis of Blackity. “That set the tone for me as a curator and art historian,” she said.

Items in the Blackity exhibition date back to the 1970s when the archive was more sparse and run up until the past decade, which had plenty to draw from. To physically show the gaps, Dr. Joachim had vertical bands painted on the walls of the exhibition space, their thickness representing how much was available – or widely recognized – at the time. Photo by Paul Litherland.

The exhibit makes thoughtful use of what’s known as ephemera: items created for a specific purpose that weren’t necessarily meant to last, such as a pamphlet or admission ticket. Ephemera is crucial, Dr. Joachim explained, because even with a lack of institutional recognition, it serves as evidence of what took place. Viewers will find things like a poster for a show of Tim Whiten, slides of sculpture art by Stan Douglas, and literary journals with work from Dionne Brand and Sylvia Hamilton.

Items date back to the 1970s, when the archive was more sparse, and run up until the past decade, which had plenty to draw from. To physically show these gaps, Dr. Joachim had vertical bands painted on the walls of the exhibition space, their thickness representing how much was available – or widely recognized – at the time. She chose large letters for some text, in a faint grey shade; symbolizing how Black Canadian artists have always been present and influential, but haven’t always been treated as such.

Dr. Joachim worked closely with Mojeanne Behzadi, who currently works in her previous role at Artexte. Ms. Behzadi brought in artists to paint the grey bands, and commissioned web developer Alex Nawotka of Mutual Design for the online exhibition. What she finds most impactful about Blackity is how it reminds us of the importance in documenting diverse experiences. “This great show you saw that nobody wrote on, it can end up disappearing very easily. I love that [Blackity] asks us to do something in response to that.” She described the exhibition as “a visualized bibliography” of Dr. Joachim’s work, something researchers can actively use and reference.

There are a few pieces that stood out to Dr. Joachim, some for their quirkiness, like the small plastic bull someone catalogued in a plastic bag – proof that you never know what’s going to be important later. But there’s one, a 1993 catalogue with mention of the artist Khadejha McCall, that hit close to the mission behind Blackity. McCall had been exhibiting work since 1967, but Dr. Joachim found just one sentence of critical writing about her in the archive. It’s a stark example of Ms. Behzadi’s sentiment; if meaningful work is not properly engaged with, it can go too long without recognition.

In the exhibition description, Dr. Joachim wrote that she strives to represent the history of Black Canadian art as “a constellation rather than a linear canon.” By letting go of the timeline format, “we end up with these seemingly disparate pockets of art-making, which are connected.” she said. “We end up with something that allows us to understand people and history and the spaces they occupy in a much more textured, nuanced way.”

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New interactive art installation in front of Ackland Art Museum engages community – The Daily Tar Heel



The Ackland Art Museum installed a new interactive art piece, or “spatial gesture,” on its terrace that features magenta arches and iridescent glass– inviting Chapel Hill community members to stop and look. 

The eye-catching art features several arches that extend from the ground and frame reflective panels that change color based on light and movement. When backlit by red, green and blue lights, the panels capture shadows of those standing in front of them. 

White platforms at each end of the arches allow visitors to sit, perform, eat or just talk with friends.

The Urban Conga, a design studio based in Brooklyn, N.Y., created the installation, called pARC, as an open-ended space for the Chapel Hill community. It was installed on June 18 and will remain there until July 2024.

Maeghann Coleman is a designer on the Urban Conga team and helped create the installation. An artist and architect, she has been there since its start in 2013. 

She said her team tried to work together to mesh the concepts of both the arches and seating elements with the shadow play. 

“We’re taking art off the pedestal and giving people the opportunity to interact in the way that they would want to,” Coleman said. 

Coleman said she hopes the piece will be used by visitors and help them create new relationships with people who they don’t normally interact with.

Ryan Swanson, who serves as The Urban Conga studio’s founder and creative director, mirrored Coleman’s desire for the installation to foster community. 

“Within the space, we tried to create multiple tools that people could kind of use to create, inspire and really learn and listen to each other and really become this communal space,” Swanson said.

According to The Urban Conga’s website, the art should invite people off the street and into the museum and University. The goal of the installation is to attract passersby to the museum to view, relax, laugh and — most importantly — play.

“We really focus on sparking community interaction and social activity through open-ended play,” Swanson said. “So through our work, we see play as a tool to bring people together within the public space.”

The Ackland Art Museum is hosting a sunset celebration at the pARC this Friday at 5 p.m. where attendees can make their own pARC-inspired iridescent suncatchers, relax with friends and family and explore the museum’s galleries. 

On Sunday, July 24, the museum is hosting “Ackland F.A.M.: Play at the pARC”. From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., families can grab an activity kit and take a summery scavenger hunt through the galleries. In the evening, there will be a pARC-inspired movement workshop led by choreographer Killian Manning and will feature special musical guest Dan Levine on cello. 

Katie Ziglar, the director of the Ackland Art Museum, said the exhibit is meant for all age groups to enjoy. 

“We have our values as a museum,” says Ziglar. “We have three they are rigor, playfulness and responsiveness. This is right up our alley, our playful ally.”

She said pARC is the third installation in a series of interactive installations.

“The first was some beautiful turning, spinning that people could ride around on with different colors made by a Mexican design group,” Ziglar said. 

The second was an “installation based on ancient Arabian water vessel in our collection,” according to Ziglar. 

She said that she hopes the new installation brings new audiences to the Ackland, and that it inspires people to want to learn more about the museum and what it can offer the public. 

“I think the biggest thing is showcasing the value of play and how it can be used in different ways in different spaces to people together,” Swanson said. “And that’s really the true essence of our work, is highlighting that play is a valuable tool.”

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Art exhibition with references to famous movies coming to Strathcona County –



This summer, Strathcona County will have an art exhibition saturated with popular culture references.

Red Deer artist Jason Frizzell will be showcasing his miniature sculpture pieces called “We’ll Build a Palace Upon the Ruins” at Gallery@501, Strathcona County’s only public art gallery.

From July 8 to Aug. 20, the exhibition will be on display for all to enjoy. 

It will showcase close to 60 small-scale sculptures that continue a thematic exploration of transition, identity, denial and discovery. It will also take viewers through different time periods and eras as they explore the showcase.

“Jason has created a really interesting journey of discovery for our visitors when they enter the gallery space,” said Kris Miller, the curator for Gallery@501.

Some pop culture references viewers will see include Mad Max, The Wizard of Oz, Planet of the Apes, The Flintstones and Stephen King.

To go along with the art itself, Gallery@501 also partially recreated Frizzell’s studio space within the gallery. 

“Being that he is working in a miniature format, it is really interesting to see these sculptural pieces. The content, stories, narratives that he is sharing with us for this artwork really struck a chord for us.”

Gallery@501 is also adding a sensory-friendly feature to the exhibition so the art can be explored through touch and iPads for larger viewing.

The public is also invited to an opening reception and exhibition walk-through with Jason Frizzell on July 14 at 7 p.m.

Gallery@501 is located at #120, 501 Festival Avenue, Sherwood Park. It is always free to visit.

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Idea Exchange welcomes new Cambridge Art Galleries director – CambridgeToday



The Idea Exchange is ready to welcome Alix Voz as the new Gallery Director/Curator of Cambridge Art Galleries. Alix will be starting in the position Wednesday, says a release from the city.

“We are thrilled to have Alix joining us in Cambridge,” said Idea Exchange CEO Helen Kelly in a press release. “Her enthusiasm for presenting art exhibitions that are engaging and accessible for the broader community is infectious. We look forward to many dynamic public art projects and programs under her leadership.”

For the past four years, Vos has been working as the director/curator at the WKP Kennedy Gallery in North Bay.

She holds a master of arts in interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in Art History and Fine Arts, Geography, Communication and Culture, from York University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Nipissing University, says the release. She is an adjunct faculty member at Nipissing University where she teaches art courses in the Bachelor of Fine Arts Program. She is also an instructor in the Visual and Creative Arts Advanced Program at Sheridan College. 

An active community member, Vos served as the vice-chair of the public art policy committee for the City of North Bay.

Vos has her own contemporary art practice and has had her work exhibited at the Art Gallery of Sudbury, the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, and the Red Head Gallery in Toronto. Her artistic practice includes drawing, having recently published her illustrations in a children’s book. She is currently working on an art-history-inspired children’s illustration book series.

With a love of literature and a passion for art, Vos says she’s excited about the opportunities for community engagement at Idea Exchange.

The community will have an opportunity to meet the new curator/director during the virtual opening reception of Fibreworks 2022 on July 21 at 7 p.m., registration is required to attend.

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