The Ellen Art Gallery recently launched a new semi-annual, online program. Each instalment of Terms will investigate the manifold meanings of a given word. The program is tripartite, featuring three components.
For the first component, the selected term will be explored in a short essay by a researcher working outside of the visual arts. He or she will examine the term through a particular lens, reflecting on the nuances, ambiguities, and plural meanings of the term.
For the second component, Gallery curator of research and program leader Julia Eilers Smith will pair the term with an existing artwork.
In the final component, a writer from the cultural sector will produce another short essay. Using the artwork as a point of departure, and drawing on the first essay, the writer will further explore various dimensions of the term and its significances.
Each term will be twice presented in this tripartite form — twice in the given year — before another term is selected for the following year.
Terms investigates how various, polysemic meanings are sedimented in words, how terms are disseminated, and how they alter public discourse.
The first edition of Terms explores the term Vulnerability.
Writer, researcher, community organizer, and activist Mostafa Henaway explores the term ‘vulnerability’ in relation to his work with migrants.
“If there is a term,” he writes, “that evokes a spirit of our moment, it is ‘vulnerability.’”
Henaway depicts our ambivalent notions of vulnerability. The term can sometimes evoke empathy for migrants that are struggling. But ‘vulnerability’ is sometimes considered in terms of the apparent ‘natural’ limits of a person or organism. We see vulnerability as a person’s natural susceptibility to inevitable assaults from the outside.
Henaway makes a case for other conceptions of vulnerability that allow it to be understood as something largely created through our own constructed political, economic, and social world.
He uses this notion of created “structural vulnerability,” exploring how various policies create adverse and exploitive conditions for migrant workers.
Henaway’s essay is followed in the program by a short 1960s film by Canadian artist Joyce Wieland, Hand Tinting.
Arts writer Yaniya Lee develops the exploration of vulnerability through a reflection on the film.
Forming a continuity with the theme of labour, the film is comprised of leftover footage produced by Wieland when she worked at a youth employment training center. The center aimed to teach employable skills to disadvantaged youth.
“Wieland’s task,” explains Lee, “was to film cutaways of the participants during downtime, allowing the recruitment documentary to show the centre’s atmosphere.”
When the company rejected Wieland’s documentary, she made her own film using some of the footage. The film is hand-tinted and perforated in places with a sewing needle.
In her own account of the experience, Lee writes, Wieland was moved by the somewhat pitiful circumstances of the young, mostly black women, while also inspired by their courage and willingness to invest in themselves.
Lee uses the film to reflect on the use of vulnerable subjects as the ‘content’ of film and works of art.
“Wieland ‘got’ the footage to make this film from a paid job; the girls she filmed were at a training centre seeking new opportunities,” Lee points out. “What does it mean to use other people’s bodies as matter” for a work of art?
Lee expresses her mix of admiration and distrust for Wieland’s work, wondering whether Wieland has advocated for vulnerable women or whether she has exploited them.
Lee concludes with a reflection on the relation between subject and work, this time questioning her own vulnerability as the writer making a subject of Wieland’s art.
The second posting of Terms will be launched in late January, 2021, examining vulnerability from another viewpoint.
Find out more about the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery at Concordia.
10 year-old uses art and music as emotional outlet during pandemic – CTV Toronto
The last 10 months haven’t been easy for 10 year-old Anushka Sabeshan.
“It’s been pretty hard. I get anxious about these things,” she told CTV News Toronto. “My classmate tested positive, my dad tested positive, so it’s just been like a whole rollercoaster for me. And I feel like a lot of kids around the world are feeling that way right now.”
The Markham, Ont. girl has been channeling her feelings and emotions through different artistic platforms, like painting.
“This art like shows like how I want it to be, or how it is now, or how it’s changed and they just really express my feelings,” Sabeshan explained. “I’ve also been creating music.”
It’s Sabeshan’s music that caught the attention of her teacher and classmates. As part of a school project, the students were tasked with creating a song about COVID-19. Sabeshan’s song, ‘Mayhem,’ was so well received that her family allowed it to go public. A production team also helped her put together a music video.
“My song is about a child through the pandemic, and it shows how this can affect kids, too,” Sabeshan said. “Not being able to see my friends and not being able to go out to restaurants and all that stuff, it sucks.”
Sabeshan’s younger brother Devin helped with the video The six-year-old says he shares many of his sister’s emotions.
“I felt really bad about COVID,” he told CTV News Toronto. “I wish it would go away.”
The siblings hope ‘Mayhem’ brings a feeling of calm to other young people during this difficult time.
“I think my music people will help other people just to reassure them that they’re not alone. Like, other people are feeling these feelings, too,” Sabeshan said. “It also is to create awareness for everybody to stay safe so we can get through this faster.”
“[Anushka] sings them a song to make them happy,” Devin says. “That’s what she does for other kids.”
‘Mayhem’ was put together with the help of Enliven Entertainment and Steve Cliff Valentine, who produced the music, along with Jeysan Sivakumar, who directed the video.
Sabeshan’s advice for other kids experiencing complex feelings during this time is to find something to do that makes them happy, or that they feel passionate about.
“I will definitely keep making paintings and making music,” she told CTV News Toronto. “And I encourage all people around the world to find things like what they like and just do them, just to take your mind off the pandemic.”
Outdoor Gallery Stratford project brings art to life – The Beacon Herald
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“I want to flip that idea on its side and have the viewer engage in the evolution of the art piece itself – watching it change and seeing a bit of the creative process as it goes,” Dunnem said.
Dunnem used hot and cold water and soap to turn natural wool from a stuffing-like texture to fabric that wouldn’t fall apart. She used plant-based dye to colour the material and then cut more than 360 pieces that were affixed to the tree using its bark as a natural adhesive.
The project is similar to another soft sculpture piece Dunnem created in the summer that incorporated the gallery’s trees.
“I’ve always had a close relationship with nature and trees,” she said. “I spend a lot of time out in the woods and the forest. Even as a young child we spent our summers in a remote area where there were no other humans, so I adopted the trees as more than trees – as friends – and that’s been ingrained.”
After Dunnem has attached the last piece of wool Thursday, the project will live on – kind of.
“I think there is just as much beauty in the deterioration and in the decay as there is in the actual artwork,” she said. “The sun, the light, the cold, the hot will start to break down the fibres, and bugs and spiders and natural material will start to hold on to the fibres as well, and it becomes its own piece of art without human intervention.”
The project has garnered attention both in person and on social media for those who can’t make it to the gallery, including someone from Austria, Dunnem said.
Gallery Stratford closed its doors to guests Dec. 24, and Brayham hopes to reopen in early April. Until then, outdoor artwork like Dunnem’s is a chance to both engage the public and encourage mindfulness and physical activity.
“Many of us right now are spending so much time on screens,” Brayham said, “so being present with the environment and present with art and with your feelings is so important right now.”
Outdoor public art exhibit of painted canoe paddles comes to downtown Peterborough in February – kawarthaNOW.com
A new outdoor public art exhibit featuring 20 canoe paddles painted by volunteer artists in the community is coming to downtown Peterborough in February.
Presented by the Downtown Vibrancy Project, the Painted Paddle art exhibit will be installed in street-front windows at various locations through the downtown area, including the Peterborough & the Kawartha Tourism Visitor Centre, Le Petit Bar, St. Veronus, Boardwalk Game Lounge, Sam’s Deli, Black Honey Bakery, Cork and Bean, B!KE, Watson and Lou, Cottage Toys, By The Bridge, GreenUp Store, Night Kitchen, Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area office, Meta4 Gallery, The Avant-Garden Shop, Sustain, Bluestreak Records, and Peterborough Social Services.
For those interested in taking a self-guided tour of the Painted Paddle exhibit, a map of all locations will be available at linktr.ee/LoveForTheBoro.
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“Art brightens the spirit and has a way of making people feel good,” says Tracie Bertrand, director of tourism at Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development. “The Painted Paddle art project will put a smile on people’s faces as they fondly reflect on their memories of being outdoors here in Peterborough and the Kawarthas.”
Some of the people and organizations who have contributed paddle art for the project include Peterborough mayor Diane Therrien, Hiawatha First Nation, Wiigwaas Hiawatha Store, Peterborough Police Service, Peterborough DBIA, GreenUP, Trent Gzowski College, Trent Veg Garden, Peterborough Pollinators, Princess Gardens Retirement Residence, Empress Gardens Retirement Residence, St. Anne’s School, VegFest, B!KE, the Art School of Peterborough, city councillors Kim Zippel and Kemi Akapo, mother-and-daughter team Eileen and Kendron Kimmett, local Anishinaabe artist Kyler Kay, and local artist Tiphaine Lenaik.
“The paddle creates a unique way to honour and acknowledge the original families in Treaty 20,” says Tim Cowie, lands and resource consultant with Hiawatha First Nation, one of many creative community members who lent their artistic skills to the Painted Paddle project. Cowie painted his paddle to look like a piece of birch bark (wiigwaas) and painted the clans (dodems) on his paddle to showcase the family ties of the Michi Saagiig.
Jill Stevens, economic development officer of Hiawatha First Nation, incorporated Michii Saagiig culture as part of their painted paddle installation.
“Having a paddle as the canvas was the perfect backdrop for the Hiawatha logo, which depicts someone paddling through manomin (wild rice) stands,” Stevens says.
The Painted Paddle exhibit will be on display in downtown Peterborough from Monday, February 1st until Friday, March 5th.
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Painted paddles from the exhibition will be available in a virtual auction beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 19th and continuing until 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 4th, just before the March First Friday Peterborough art crawl.
Proceeds from the auction at www.32auctions.com/paintedpaddles will go towards the One City Employment Program, which provides meaningful work to those with barriers to traditional employment.
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