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Re:Building Resilience exhibition features art that brings out in the open illness often suffered in silence –



Walking through the Workman Arts’ ambitious “Re:Building Resilience” exhibition feels a little like exploring the many warrens of the human mind. Twenty-five installations are spread out over several floors at the old St. Anne’s parish hall on Dufferin St., which the mental-health arts organization has called home since 2009. Around every corner inside the 11,000 sq. ft. maze of a heritage building there’s an intimate glimpse into an artist’s fears, insights, anxieties, joys or triumphs.

I was lucky to get a (safely distanced) tour of the exhibition by Workman Arts managing director Scott Miller Berry and visual arts co-ordinator Paulina Wiszowata just before the organization made the difficult decision to not open to the public in-person because of rising COVID-19 numbers in Toronto.

The show is just one component of their annual Rendezvous With Madness festival, the largest of its kind in the world, this year featuring online juried performances, films and workshops dedicated to various aspects of mental health and well-being. It’s a grand farewell as it’s the last year that the festival, which runs from Oct. 15—25, will be at the hall before Workman Arts moves into its new space nearby at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

According to Berry, the organization anticipated that the festival might be an online-only affair and planned as such. There will now be virtual tours at that will replicate a walk through the exhibition, plus a “swag bag” of digital extras for those who purchase a pay-what-you-wish ticket, including the full video of theatre artist Rochelle Richardson’s one-person performance, “Queen Latifah Give Me Strength.”

It’s a disappointment, but a thoughtful reminder that the mental-health issues covered in the show are everywhere and not connected to a specific place.

Some artists had already modified their pieces to compensate for COVID-19 distancing, with additional films, zines, and websites. Kara Stone’s video “Medication Meditation” is an unwinnable single-player game that explores the challenges and choices of living with mental illness via a pixelated interface that recalls an early ’80s Atari game. The app version is now available for free through Apple and Google Play stores.

Queer artist Maximilian Suillerot’s “The Colors of Hypnotic Charm,” with its glitzy sequined teal and pink palette is an Instagram dream overlaid with a serious message about trauma and resilience. Suillerot, who is an avid rollerblader, painted stacks of dog crates in the mystical colours of the “Sex Magick Warriors,” a ritual meant to ward off attacks from not just aggressive canines but from homophobic slurs.

Take time online with Jenny Chen’s “Multitude of Fish,” which in part comprises 1,000 handmade salmon-coloured clay fish, arranged in a wave on the floor. Its meditative look at artistic process and internal emotions hits a much different chord than Alexandra Caprara and Raechel E. Kula’s powerful installation, “ThreadBare,” in which visitors walk through a closet-sized room where articles of women’s clothing embroidered with messages from #MeToo survivors hang off a web-like structure.

It’s fitting that “Post-Part,” Longernin Collective’s room-within-a-room is tucked away in a space behind the stage where Workman Arts executive artistic director Kelly Straughan recalls auditioning when the parish hall used to house the Equity Showcase Theatre. Postpartum mood disorders and psychosis remain often hidden, suffered in silence.

The walls inside the small room are covered in a bright yellow and blue wallpaper, but it’s not until moving in closer that the brocade pattern reveals rows of fetuses in utero, as well as women’s legs, breasts and pelvises surrounded by decorative flowers. I held up a piece of blue cellophane to the walls, which in turn revealed another secret layer to the wallpaper. An underlying collage features vintage images of women with their infants and doctors, depicting an unsettling view into what is supposed to be the happiest time for a new parent. My movements also triggered an audio track of women sharing testimonials about their private fears and worries.

Originally initiated in 2018 by director Pazit Cahlon for the Gladstone Hotel’s “Come Up to My Room” exhibition, the installation is inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1892 story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The early feminist story recalls a woman recuperating from “a slight hysterical tendency,” who attempts to free another woman she believes is trapped behind her nursery’s sickly coloured wallpaper.

Cahlon brought on illustrator Nat Janin and Waterloo-based collage artist and arts therapist Catherine Mellinger, who was pregnant at the time with her second baby. Mellinger mined vintage “Life” magazines for most of the hidden collaged images, and collected stories from women she met through her work at community health centres. It’s a personal project: the audio includes Mellinger sharing her own experiences with postpartum OCD after the birth of her first son.

“I really wanted to question how far have we actually come,” says Mellinger. “How different really is that experience for birthing parents now compared to when Charlotte Perkins Gilman went through it? Within that time frame of 120 years, we’ve made advances but compared to the advancements of other medical inventions or movements, it’s really minimal.”



Mellinger has become a determined advocate for perinatal and postpartum mental health, pointing out how lagging support is especially when it comes to racial and sexual diversity. She was initially disappointed that the exhibition couldn’t tour more this year, but thanks to Workman Arts, there is now a smart interactive version available in time for the festival, designed by Janin.

“The project will have so much more longevity online,” Mellinger says. “Suddenly it has this whole other life.”


Sue Carter is editor of the Quill & Quire and a freelance contributor based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @flinnflon

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First virtual Carmichael Art History Lecture 'absolutely fabulous' – OrilliaMatters



“Absolutely Fabulous.” “A wonderful presentation, truly exceptional experience of art and land.” “A true labour of love.”

These were some of the online comments about Jim and Sue Waddington and their presentation, “In the Footsteps of the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson.”

The Waddingtons appeared live via Zoom at the first ever virtual Carmichael Art History lecture hosted by the Orillia Museum of Art & History (OMAH) on Oct. 21. 

When the OMAH History Committee, who coordinates this annual OMAH fundraiser, confirmed with the Waddingtons that the lecture planned for May would have to be cancelled, Jim and Sue rose to the occasion.

“Would you be interested in holding the lecture virtually?”

They were keen to help OMAH with their fundraising efforts by sharing their story this way.

Forced to step outside their comfort zone, OMAH and the History Committee partnered with the Waddingtons to make this virtual event a huge success.

Through their rich narration Jim and Sue shared with viewers a snapshot of their 43-year quest to find the over 800 actual sites where the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson painted, exhibiting their stunning photographs of the locations that mirrored each particular sketch or painting.

Special for the Orillia audience, they included many details about the Orillia-born Franklin Carmichael. 

The audience was also treated to a “reveal” of the location where Carmichael painted Old Barns, Miner’s Bay, the painting OMAH hopes to purchase, which is in the la Cloche region of Ontario, not in the Minden area as was first thought.

It was a wonderful evening. Thanks go to the Waddingtons and to the community for supporting this event.

OMAH will be sending out a general survey regarding future virtual programming. In addition, a survey will be sent specifically to attendees at the virtual Carmichael Art History Lecture. We want to hear about what is in important to you so we can develop rich online experiences that meets your needs and interests.

OMAH is committed to find ways to stay connected to the community both at the museum and virtually. Stay tuned for more virtual programming in the future.

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Qaumajuq_new name of Winnipeg Art Gallery's Inuit art centre, an act of decolonization – Turtle Island News



By Adam Laskaris

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

WINNIPEG, MAN-The Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Art Centre has a new name.

Qaumajuq Street View Day Rendering. Photo Michael Maltzan Architecture

In a ceremony on Oct. 28, the gallery, known as WAG, announced the centre would be renamed Qaumajuq  1/8HOW-ma-yourq 3/8, an Inuktitut word meaning “It is bright, it is lit”.

Qaumajuq is set to open in February 2021 after construction began in March 2018 on a new 40,000-square-foot-building designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture with Cibinel Architecture. It’s home to the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world.

The WAG building itself was given a name in Anishinaabemowin,Biindigin Biwaasaeyaah  1/8BEEN- deh-gen Bi-WAH-say-yah 3/8, meaning “Come on in, the dawn of light is here” or “the dawn of light is coming.”

The naming ceremony was hosted by Dr. Stephen Borys, director and CEO of WAG. The ceremony occurred with a small gathering of Borys and Julia Lafreniere, WAG manager of Indigenous Initiatives. A Qulliq lighting ceremony was conducted by Elder Martha Peet, with virtual appearances from Theresie Tungilik and Elder Dr. Mary Courchene. The latter two formally announced the new names in Inuktitut and Anishinaabemowin respectively.

Tungilik, an Inuk artist from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, said “Qaumajuq will be a place where all walks of life will experience, through the creation of Inuit art, our survival, hardships and resilience.”

Courchene, who comes from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, said the Biindigin Biwaasaeyaah name was created to “include all the Indigenous populations of Manitoba, the First Nations, the Metis, and the Inuit populations.”

“The language keepers and Elders came together in a powerful moment of cross-cultural reflection and relationship-building,”

Borys said. “This initiative is an act of decolonization, supporting reconciliation and Indigenous knowledge transmission for generations to come in an effort to ensure WAG-Qaumajuq will be a home where Indigenous communities feel welcome. Where everyone feels welcome.”

In addition to the new name of Qaumajuq, which will serve as the primary name for the space, various areas within the WAG will also have new names in Inuvialuktun (Inuit), Nehiyawewin (Cree), Dakota, and Michif (Metis) that were given by Indigenous language keepers.

“Indigenous-focused and Indigenous-led initiatives will be at the heart of this new space and giving the spaces Indigenous names is just the start,” reads the WAG’s website where pronunciations and audio clips for the new names are available.

“We are thrilled to share the names of the spaces in the seven Indigenous languages of Manitoba and Inuit Nunangat,” said Dr.

Heather Igloliorte and Dr. Julie Nagam, co-chairs of the Indigenous Advisory Circle for Winnipeg Art Gallery, in a joint statement.

“The Circle demonstrates the breadth of knowledge that represents the relationship to the collection and the buildings and it has been an incredible experience for all Circle members. We are so honoured to gift the institution with these new names that point to a new path forward for galleries and museums in this country,” the statement continued.

The WAG also states that the “historic naming responds to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Article 13 and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 14i, both of which reference the importance of Indigenous languages.”

Article 13 reads:

Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.

TRC Call to Action 14i states: Aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.

A press release issued by WAG states that Qaumajuq “will innovate the art museum, taking art from object to full sensory experience with Inuit-led programming.” One of these features includes the three-storey tall column called the `visible vault’ that is filled with thousands of Inuit carvings and immediately viewable upon entry into Qaumajuq.

“This is a place that amplifies and uplifts Inuit stories, connecting Canada’s North and South. This is a site for reconciliation… We can’t wait to unveil this new cultural landmark in the heart of the country with these new names honouring Indigenous voices and languages,” Borys said.

Adam Laskaris is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of Windspeaker. com. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. 

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Pay Phones Turned Into Public Art, in “Titan” – The New Yorker



Photograph by Chris Maggio for The New Yorker

New York City’s pay phones are obsolete, and, by early next year, they will also be history—removed to make way for Wi-Fi kiosks. Through Jan. 3, a dozen artists (including Glenn Ligon, Patti Smith, and Jimmie Durham, whose contribution is pictured above) are making creative use of phone booths along Sixth Avenue, from Fifty-first to Fifty-sixth Streets. The project, called “Titan,” was co-curated by Damián Ortega and Bree Zucker, in collaboration with the Kurimanzutto gallery.

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