Raechel Wastesicoot: Kenatentas

Join us in celebrating the opening of Kenatentas on Saturday, January 27 from 2-3:30pm. More details here.

Raechel Wastesicoot is a mixed Kanien’kehá:ka beadworker born and raised in Oshawa and currently based in Toronto. Growing up just minutes from the gallery, the RMG has long served as a personal site of inspiration and respite to Wastesicoot. In her debut exhibition, Kenatentas, she has created twelve beaded artworks in response to paintings and drawings from the RMG’s Permanent Collection by members of Ontario’s abstract collective, Painters Eleven. Presented alongside short poems written by the artist, each work, while formally referencing its historical counterpart, recalls a very specific moment or relationship in Wastesicoot’s life that has challenged or changed her.

Wastesicoot began beading in 2020 as a way of connecting to her Mohawk culture. For thousands of years, the practice of beading has been utilized by Indigenous Peoples to record and share cultural knowledge. Enduring today, beadwork has been taken up en masse by a new generation of young Indigenous artists. As a social activity, beading circles promote community-building and knowledge sharing, carving pathways to wider networks of cultural dialogue. As an individual practice, the slowness is described by many as meditative and healing.

In Kenatentas, Wastesicoot intimately revisits moments of her past, bead by bead honouring, and in some cases rewriting, the stories that have made her who she is today. Using playful materials and colours, she nurtures her younger self and tends to intergenerational trauma deeply rooted in the place that for 22 years she called home. Hung alongside the artwork that inspired her as child, Wastesicoot asserts herself, and by extension, contemporary Indigenous beadwork, within the ongoing story of abstraction in Canada.

Raechel Wastesicoot is a mixed Kanien’kehá:ka beadworker and land-based communications specialist. Her mother’s family is from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, and her father’s family immigrated to Toronto from Northern Italy in the early 1960s. Her spirit name is Mein-gun Kwe, meaning wolf woman, which was gifted to her by an Ojibway Elder. Following a teaching passed down to her: from the land, for the land, and by the land, her beadwork comprises contemporary pieces featuring upcycled, vintage, and harvested materials. With the land and sustainability at the centre of her approach, the pieces she creates aim to have as minimal an impact on the environment as possible, and heavily feature gifts from the land, including antler, fur, hides, and porcupine quills.

This exhibition is presented with support from the Government of Ontario through the Tourism Relief Fund.

World-builders, shapeshifters

Dreaming of the worlds we want to live in allows us to take the first steps towards creating them. How can we use what we know today to collectively envision a better world for tomorrow? When you imagine the future, what do you hope to change about the past?

World-builders, shapeshifters is a group exhibition that invites us to gather, dream, and speak about love, grief, and togetherness. It braids together six early and mid-career Indigenous artists making speculative work about where they’ve been to better understand where, together, we can go. Exploring themes of decolonial love, joy, kinship, and abundance, the exhibition uses Indigenous Futurism as a device to imagine and believe into being, a world where everyone’s sovereignty is respected, our success is shared, and our flourishing is mutual.

Alex Jacobs-Blum is a Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga) and German visual lens-based artist and curator. Her research focuses on Indigenous futures and accessing embodied Ancestral Hodinöhsö:ni’ knowledge. The core of her practice and methodology is a strong foundation in community building, fostering relationships, empowering youth, and Indigenizing institutional spaces. Her creative process is rooted in cyclical storytelling and challenging hierarchical power structures. Jacobs-Blum endeavours to facilitate transformative change infused with love and care, guided by anti-oppressive and anti-racist modalities.

Jacobs-Blum received a Bachelor of Photography at Sheridan College in 2015, where she was awarded the Canon Award of Excellence for Narrative Photography. Her work has been exhibited at the University of Ottawa, Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice, the Woodland Cultural Centre, and Critical Distance Centre for Curators.

Kat Brown Akootchook is a Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe visual artist and educator belonging to the Oneida Nation of the Thames, Bear Clan. She is a multidisciplinary beadworker and creator known for her printmaking and design. She blends contemporary & traditional elements with a sense of humour and a heart for activism. She often uses her art to call attention to Indigenous rights movements and youth education.

Kat currently splits her time between Southern California and her homelands of Southern Ontario. She is most known for her “Land Back” design, which she created at the Native Action for Mauna Kea, and can be seen on t-shirts across Turtle Island. Her beadwork and designs are used for authentic contemporary Native representation on television and by musicians.

One of her biggest goals is to be that auntie who helps and breaks down the gatekeeping that can sometimes prevent Native people from accessing traditions which have been forcibly taken from us – reclaiming our land, ways, and expression is an honour and a joy.

Kay Nadjiwon is a two-spirit/non-binary Anishinaabe lens-based artist working in Treaty 13. They are currently completing their BFA in Photography at Toronto Metropolitan University and are an MFA candidate. Their artistic practice focuses on issues of identity, memory, trauma and belonging. Nadjiwon uses archival materials, alternative processes and interdisciplinary methods to situate feelings of grief as a site for social connection. Their practice includes photography, video, collage and installation.

Natalie King is a queer interdisciplinary Anishinaabe (Algonquin) artist, facilitator and member of Timiskaming First Nation. King’s arts practice ranges from video, painting, sculpture and installation as well as community engagement, curation and arts administration. King is currently a Programming Coordinator at Xpace Cultural Centre in Tkaronto.

Often involving portrayals of queer femmes, King’s works are about embracing the ambiguity and multiplicities of identity within the Anishinaabe queer femme experience(s). King’s practice operates from a firmly critical, anti-colonial, non-oppressive, and future-bound perspective, reclaiming the realities of lived liv es through frameworks of desire and survivance.

King’s recent exhibitions include Come and Get Your Love at Arsenal Contemporary, Toronto (2022), Proud Joy at Nuit Blanche Toronto (2022), Bursting with Love at Harbourfront Centre (2021) PAGEANT curated by Ryan Rice at Centre[3] in Hamilton (2021), and (Re)membering and (Re)imagining: the Joyous Star Peoples of Turtle Island at Hearth Garage (2021). King has extensive mural making practice that includes a permanent mural currently on at the Art Gallery of Burlington. King holds a BFA in Drawing and Painting from OCAD University (2018). King is currently GalleryTPW’s 2023 Curatorial Research Fellow.

Nishina Shapwaykeesic-Loft is Kanien’kehá:ka from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. She is a 2S queer, multi-disciplinary artist in a wide spectrum of mediums. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours from York University in Theatre Production and Design.

She works in the theatre industry with a specialization in costuming. She is a mural artist working with StART as a project coordinator and an indigenous advisor. She is the Associate Programmer for the Toronto Queer Film Festival and has worked in programming for imagineNATIVE Media + Arts Festival. She continues to grow within her field and explore new opportunities.

Sheri Osden Nault is an artist, community worker, and Assistant Professor in Studio Arts at the University of Western Ontario. Their work spans mediums including sculpture, performance, installation, and more; integrating cultural, social, and experimental creative processes. Their work considers embodied connections between human and non-human beings, land-based relationships, and kinship sensibilities as an Indigenous Futurist framework. Methodologically, they prioritize tactile ways of knowing, and learning from more than human kin. Their research is grounded in their experiences as Michif, nêhiyaw, and Two-Spirit, and engages with decolonizing methodologies, queer theory, ecological theory, and intersectional and Indigenous feminisms. They are a member of the Indigenous tattoo revival movement in so-called Canada, and run the annual community project, Gifts for Two-Spirit Youth.

Recent notable exhibitions include bringing to light what came from inside, as part of the Images Festival, Toronto; BEHOLD|EN, at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Kwaatanihtowwakiw – A Hard Birth, at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2022; Hononga at Hoea! Gallery in Aotearoa (New Zealand), 2021; Where the Shoreline Meets the Water, the ArQuives, Toronto, 2020; Off-Centre at the Dunlop Art Gallery, 2019; and Li Salay at the Art Gallery of Alberta, 2018.

Installation of World-builders, shapeshifters at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2023. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.

This exhibition is presented with support from the Maada’ookii Committee, Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, the Downie & Wenjack Foundation and Hudson Bay Foundation through Oshki Wuppowane: The Blanket Fund, and the Government of Ontario through the Tourism Relief Fund.

Couzyn van Heuvelen: CAMP

Celebrate CAMP with us at Odibaadodaan: Celebrating First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Storytellers on Friday, November 24 from 6-9pm. More details here.

Born in Iqaluit, Nunavut, but living predominantly in Southern Ontario, Couzyn van Heuvelen’s artistic practice explores Inuit cultural sovereignty and the tools and technologies of living on the land. Known for his large-scale sculptural works, van Heuvelen’s playful approach seamlessly blends traditional practices with contemporary materials and fabrication processes, asserting the resiliency and adaptability of Inuit culture.

The four sculptural installations in this exhibition build from van Heuvelen’s earlier investigations into hunting and fishing practices by shifting focus to the chores and communal spaces that take shape around the harvesting and preparation of food. Drawing on the seasonal practice of setting up camp in warmer months, van Heuvelen participates in the celebration that takes place when Northern communities gather to hunt and fish together. It’s here where skills are passed from one generation to the next and the sustenance provided by the land is gathered, then shared with friends and neighbours. Van Heuvelen honours these practices in his work, reenacting the processes of fleshing seal, tanning hides, drying pitsik, and filleting char in materials new and familiar to his artistic practice.

This work is shaped by the artist’s own formative experiences with his family and his desire to connect with the love and labour of his homelands. He demonstrates how the camp is a site for shared learning, community-building, and joy. Situating viewers in this conceptual and cultural space, CAMP addresses the critical role of land-based practices in Inuit self-determination, food sovereignty in the North, and the pleasures of celebrating in community around food.

Couzyn van Heuvelen is an Inuk sculptor and multi-disciplinary installation artist. Born in Iqaluit, Nunavut, but living in Southern Ontario for most of his life, van Heuvelen’s work explores Inuit culture and identity, new and old technologies, and personal narratives. While rooted in the history and traditions of Inuit art, his work strays from established Inuit art making methods and explores a range of fabrication processes. His use of unconventional materials and fabrication processes, combined with elements of Inuit culture, mirrors his own process of exploring how traditional practices continue to influence his everyday life.

Van Heuvelen holds a BFA from York University and an MFA from NSCAD University. His work has been included in many group exhibitions across Canada, including the inaugural exhibition INUA at WAG-Qaumajuq (2020), the touring exhibition ᐊᕙᑖᓂᑦ ᑕᒪᐃᓐᓂᑦ ᓄᓇᑐᐃᓐᓇᓂᑦ Among All These Tundras (2018–19), and Arctic/Amazon: Networks of Global Indigeneity at the Power Plant (2022). Van Heuvelen is currently represented by Fazakas Gallery in Vancouver, BC.

Installation of Couzyn van Heuvelen: CAMP at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2023. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.

This exhibition is presented with support from the Ontario Arts Council and the Government of Ontario.

The artist gratefully acknowledges support from the Canada Council for the Arts for this exhibition.

Aaron Jones: Fountain of Dreams

Inspired by Black fantasy and science fiction narratives, this solo exhibition by Pickering-based artist Aaron Jones presents a new installation that combines video, collage works, photomurals, and a multi-channel soundscape. Finding inspiration from exploring the vast northern shoreline of Lake Ontario, Jones’ nuanced approach brings insights to land-based practices, placemaking, local histories, and world-building methodologies.

The immersive soundscape combines field recordings of natural areas around the Humber River with samples of electronic sounds from a theremin. The audio creates a moody atmosphere that unfolds across different areas of the space, and is paired with a new video work and photo-murals taken near shores of Lake Ontario. In the video, a ghostly presence moves throughout a landscape that is both familiar and uncanny. Meant to evoke an experience of haunting within his childhood home, Jones employs this phantom figure to pay tribute to its ongoing presence in his life, opening possibilities of new worlds and access to other realms.

Jones describes this work as an, “attempt to affirm a spiritual-symbiotic relationship to nature” through which he, “hopes to evoke a sense of disorientation, where the spectral spaces feel hyperreal, yet beautifully strange.” In a period defined by socio-ecological uncertainty, the work proposes ways of being in tandem with the natural world, and considers what it means to be human beyond the body. By constructing imagined spaces from images of thriving and overgrown urban areas, Jones proposes an idealized relationship to the world that considers environmental futurity and celebrates abundance. Here, bold fictions are defined by the unknown, and viewers are challenged with seeing themselves within the uncertainty.

Exhibition Publication

View a digital copy of the publication for this exhibition here.

Aaron Jones describes himself as an image-builder who reconfigures materials from books, magazines, newspapers and personal photos into new characters and realities. His collages and photo-based installations are a form of self-and world-exploration; he uses paper as a medium, where rips and tears become painterly brush strokes. Through a cathartic practice of constructing and deconstructing, Jones joins opposing visuals and colours in search of ‘peace’; a spiritual satisfaction. Recently, Jones has been exploring his birthplace of southern Ontario. The circumstances of the last two years have sparked a consideration of how he might survive off his own basic skills and natural resources. Jones has been exploring the natural landscape, as well as researching plants, wildlife, and the natural conditions near his mother’s home in Pickering, to understand their offerings and inner workings. His new intimately scaled, figurative collages are set against large-format pictures of rural landscapes and a video performance, contrasting scale and the ethereal with the real.

Born 1993 in Toronto, Jones graduated with a BA from OCADU in 2018. His work has been included recently in a special project for Nuit Blanche and the Art Gallery of Ontario’s We Are Story: The Canada Now Photography Acquisition exhibtion. He’s also been included in the exhibitions Three Thirty at Doris McCarthy Gallery, From the Ground Up at NIA Centre for the Arts, Ragga NYC at Mercer Union, all in Toronto, and Propped at Oakville Galleries, Oakville, ON. Jones was awarded The Gattuso Prize for his exhibition Closed Fist, Open Palm for the 2020 CONTACT Photography Festival.

Aaron Jones is represented by Zalucky Contemporary, Toronto.

Installation of Fountain of Dreams at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2023. Images by Toni Hafkenscheid.

This exhibition is supported by TD Bank Group through the TD Ready Commitment.

Anna Binta Diallo: Topographies

Topographies is a new body of work by Winnipeg-based artist Anna Binta Diallo, exploring map-making and world-building. Inspired by the rich visual histories and formal qualities of maps, this new installation explores the metaphoric and symbolic possibilities of representation. If a map is a translation of the important elements and characteristics of a particular place during a moment in time, this exhibition asks, what happens when the view is expanded? How do you contain a multitude of perspectives across geographies, times, and cultures? What richness is revealed through these layered forms of meaning-making?

For Topographies Diallo employs a personal archive of historical and outdated maps to re-interpret them as the basis for a new body of sculptural works. Exploring the sedimentary layers that form various imagined terrains, the work builds on this concept as a metaphor for the layered histories, material cultures, and human/non-human flourishing that happens within a place over time. Using layers of Plexiglas, the hung panels form large-scale topographies, consisting of cut-out shapes, textures, and found imagery, interpreted as vertical landscapes that include fossilizations of visual information, and clues of human habitation. Employing the use of light, space, layering, and depth, these new works are a material departure from Diallo’s recent work, proposing new ways to convey a narrative that continues to expand on previous research on folklore, language, history, and transcultural identity.

By assembling imagery from a diverse set of archival sources, this immersive installation maps a new world, evoking themes of place-making and stewardship, as well as the consequences of colonial histories and conquest, divisions, and ownership. Together, the works in Topographies explore how our perception of land and ground can transform, interwoven with our experiences and history, mutating and morphing like the earth’s crust.

Exhibition Publication

View a digital copy of the publication for this exhibition here.

Anna Binta Diallo is a multidisciplinary visual artist who explores themes of memory and nostalgia to create unexpected works about identity. She was born in Dakar (Senegal, 1983), grew up in Saint-Boniface (Manitoba), and lived more than fifteen years in Montreal/Tiohtiá:ke/Mooniyang.  She completed her BFA at the University of Manitoba’s School of Fine Arts (2006) and received her MFA from the Transart Institue in Berlin (2013). Her work has been exhibited widely in Canada and internationally (Finland, Senegal, Mali, Taiwan, and Germany), in institutions such as Centre CLARK, QC, Museum London, London ON; Contemporary Calgary; MOCA Taipei; SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin, and featured in Biennales such as Momenta and Bamako Encounters. In 2022, she unveiled her first public artwork, a mural integrated into the architecture of the Espace Denis Savard, in the Verdun Auditorium in Montreal. She is the recipient of several awards, prizes, and distinctions, notably from the Conseil des Arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts. In 2021, she was a finalist in the Salt Spring National Art Prize, was awarded the Barbara Sphor Memorial Prize from the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre, and received the Black Designers of Canada Award of Excellence. In 2022, she was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award. Her works are part of numerous public and private collections, including; EQ Bank; RBC Royal Bank, and Scotiabank. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the School of Art at the University of Manitoba, on Treaty 1, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples and the Métis Nation. Anna Binta Diallo is represented by Towards Gallery.

Installation of Topographies at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2023. Images by Toni Hafkenscheid.

The artist gratefully acknowledges support from the Canada Council for the Arts for this exhibition.

This exhibition is supported by TD Bank Group through the TD Ready Commitment.

Piecework

Using the materiality of quilt making as a metaphor for how the fabric of the world holds together, this exhibition brings together a group of contemporary artists who use textiles and assemblage as world-building tools. Pulling together the seemingly discarded, quilts are a composition of scraps, held together with the intention of offering warmth and comfort. This process of building something new from what was left behind, offers an orientation for engagement and opens possibilities for what can become. Quilts also occupy a set of social relations, where the making and sharing is often intergenerational and collective. They are meant to be passed down and cherished, appreciating in value through use.

Starting from a material approach, this exhibition is maximalist in form, weaving together the different ways that artists have picked up quilting as both metaphor and formal strategy in their work. Taken together, the exhibition forms a patchwork of ideas and objects, centering materiality and sensuousness as a ground for the various approaches and intentions within the works.

Artists:

Hangama Amiri holds an MFA from Yale University where she graduated in 2020 from the Painting and Printmaking Department. She received her BFA from NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is a Canadian Fulbright and Post-Graduate Fellow at Yale University School of Art and Sciences (2015-2016). Her recent exhibitions include A Homage to Home (2023) at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present (2023), Sharjah, UAE; Reminiscences (2022) at Union Pacific in London; Henna Night/ Shabe Kheena (2022) at David B. Smith Gallery, Denver, CO; Mirrors and Faces (2021) at Cooper Cole Gallery, Toronto; Wandering Amidst the Colors (2021) at Albertz Benda, New York, NY; Spectators of a New Dawn (2021), Towards Gallery, Toronto; and Bazaar: A Recollection of Home (2020) at T293 Gallery, Rome, Italy.

Amiri works predominantly in textiles to examine notions of home, as well as how gender, social norms, and larger geopolitical conflict impact the daily lives of women, both in Afghanistan and in the diaspora. Continuing to use textiles as the medium, Amiri searches to define, explore, and question these spaces. The figurative tendency in her work is due to her interest in the power of representation, especially of those objects that are ordinary to our everyday life, such as a passport, a vase, or celebrity postcards.

Alicia Barbieri is an interdisciplinary artist from Southern Alberta. Her work expands into photography, textile, performance, video, and installation. She holds a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Lethbridge and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Guelph. Alicia is interested in the blurred line between health and beauty and aims to dissect objectification in the current medical-industrial complex. Driven by her experiences with Wildervanck Syndrome, a congenital condition that has led to chronic pain, she considers the intangible wholeness of cure. She wants to share the strength in bodies being too much and not enough and give physical form to the infinite potential of the bodies discarded for failure to conform. Deeper healing requires an intimate type of care and understanding, only acquired through time. Through collaboration, performance, and craft practices, Alicia injects this time into the photographic process allowing material and interpersonal intersections to form.

Colleen Heslin is an artist and independent curator based in Vancouver. With an MFA from Concordia University, Montreal, and a BFA from Emily Carr University, Vancouver, her work explores medium crossovers between painting, sculpture, fibres, and photography. Heslin was the winner of the 2013 RBC Painting Competition and her work has been exhibited and published in Canada, USA, and Europe. Heslin founded The Crying Room Projects (1999-2014), which provided an open platform for emerging contemporary art in Vancouver’s downtown eastside.

Jeremy Laing makes objects, spaces, and situations for embodiment and relation. Through the synthesis of craft, conceptual, and social modes, their work explores the interrelation and transitional potential of people and things, materials and meanings, and questions the normative logics of who and what matters, is valued, or not.

Preston Pavlis’ work on canvas and fabric represents his interest in the fusion of painting and textiles as a means to explore narrative, form, and colour. Focused on poetic association and metaphor, the resulting works in oil, embroidery, and collage are personal charts for time and memory. The works situate solitary figures on often non-descript grounds, their gazes shifting between the viewer and somewhere beyond their space. Whether their expressions are pensive, ebullient, or intentional– they possess a palpable interiority. Pavlis’ figures convey a subtle energy and a deep sense of presence that is enhanced by their imposing scale.

Preston Pavlis currently lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he is completing his studies at the Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design. Pavlis has presented his work in exhibitions at Half Gallery (New York), Guts Gallery (London), and at Spurs Gallery (Beijing). His work was also included in recent art fair presentations, notably Frieze New York and NADA Miami. Pavlis has recently been featured in publications including Esse and C Magazine, and is the most recent recipient of the 2021 Eldon + Anne Foote Edmonton Visual Arts Prize.

Jagdeep Raina (b. 1991, Guelph, Ontario, Canada) received his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Grice Bench, Los Angeles; Cooper Cole Gallery, Toronto; Midway Contemporary, Minneapolis; and the Art Gallery of Guelph. Raina’s work has been included in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; RISD Museum of Art, Providence; and the Rubin Museum of Art, New York. In 2016, he was included in the 11th Shanghai Biennale. Raina is a 2019 recipient of the Textile Museum of Canada’s Melissa Levin Emerging Artist Award, and a 2020 recipient of the prestigious Sobey Art Award in Canada.

Moraa Stump is a Canadian, Kenyan artist and maker. Using textile techniques, Stump’s practice repurposes mixed media and materials to make 2D images and soft sculptures. Stump’s work seeks to widen the scope of possibility and imagination when confronting the themes of race, physical space and safety. Having spent her formative years growing up in Tanzania, Mozambique and Swaziland, Stump then moved to Toronto, Canada 10 years ago. This marked the beginning of her adulthood, and most notably her relationship to a Black identity. Re-learning and contextualizing herself to a North American lens has been a constant source of inspiration and questioning that fuels and excites her work.

Judith Tinkl is a fibre artist based in Sunderland, ON. Actively exhibiting her work since the early 1980s, her artistic career spans over forty years, and includes teaching art, organizing exhibitions, and volunteering with many arts organizations and craft councils. Judith became permanent faculty at the Ontario College of Art (now OCADU) in 1990 and was subsequently an Assistant Dean for eight years, and then an Associate Professor, retiring in 2009. That year her work was shown in Unity and Diversity at the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in Korea and at the World of Threads Festival in Oakville. She had a solo exhibition, Piece by Piece at the Visual Arts Centre, Clarington in 2010.

Joyce Wieland (1930–1998) began her career as a painter in Toronto before moving to New York in 1962, where she soon achieved renown as an experimental filmmaker. The 1960s and 1970s were productive years for Wieland, as she explored various materials and media and as her art became assertively political, engaging with nationalism, feminism, and ecology. She returned to Toronto in 1971. In 1987 the Art Gallery of Ontario held a retrospective of her work. Wieland was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the 1990s, and she died in 1998

Alice Olsen Williams is renowned for her unique quilted textile works that blend expressions of Anishinaabe beliefs and ideology with reflections on contemporary social issues. Alice was born in Trout Lake, 150 miles north of Kenora Ontario, Canada, in the traditional Anishinaabe territory of her mother’s people for millennia, long before Euro-colonization. Even as a child Alice had a delight for fabrics, creating small sewing projects that would later become her passion. Her distinctive style is grounded in the traditional skills of beadwork and sewing of the Anishinaabe people, and the unique symbols and themes of her culture. Alice’s creative vision in quilt design focuses on the central placement of animals and birds, which figure prominently in the lives of the Anishinaabeg.  She also uses the beautiful floral motifs that Anishinaabe-Kwewag continue to use in their beadwork, quillwork, embroidery and other creative media.   Surrounding her central designs are the conventional North American quilting blocks which were introduced by the first European Settlers, and continue to be developed by contemporary quilt artisans. Alice combines the knowledge and appreciation of both her Norwegian and Anishinaabe ancestry with new materials, to syncretize wonderful expressions in cultural meaning, the healing arts and indigenous activism. 

Installation of Piecework at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2023. Images by Toni Hafkenscheid.

Presented in Partnership with Images Festival.

Powerful Glow

Join us at the Winter Exhibitions Opening on November 26, 2022, 1-4pm.

If we think of land and waterways as readable with a range that is fluid and ever changing, living and legible, then we can see how one’s understanding of land grows over long periods of time.

Gathered around the medicine and butterfly artworks by the late Mi’kmaw artist Mike MacDonald, this exhibition brings together artists whose works are rooted in and stem from specific plant and land vocabularies that reflect place-based knowledge and nuanced perspectives of medicine.

MacDonald was a documentarian and media artist who also created garden artworks. Through documenting medicine plants for Elders in Gitxsan territory, MacDonald came to consider flora and butterflies as his teachers. Over several years, he planted more than twenty garden artworks across the land known as Canada. Through these plantings he developed a detailed vocabulary of medicinal plants, butterflies, and their diverse ecologies. Medicine takes material form through plants and food, but this exhibition invites you to imagine medicine as care and teaching; as continuance and memory; as mentorship and learning; and to consider that medicine can manifest as courage to defend land and resistance against ongoing colonial state violence.

The conversations exchanged among these artworks create a powerful glow made possible through a commitment to reciprocity, remediation and remembering. Reciprocity evokes the acts of offering and then doing, where remediation contends with the context at hand and is about being from and for. Remembering, whether through one’s body or material archives, can be painful, nourishing, interpretive and reflective ways to access ancestral knowledge.

Reciprocity, remediation, remembering – fluid, ever changing, living.

Looking Back

Rooting into Mike MacDonald’s work with butterflies, butterfly gardens and the passionate defence of the environment that inspired his life’s work, we invite you to explore this archived version of the artist’s website. This site was recognized with the Aboriginal Achievement Award for New Media in 2000, alongside MacDonald’s essay “Indians in Cyberspace.” Engage materials about plants, butterflies and some of the work featured in Powerful Glow.

 Installation of Powerful Glow at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2022. Images by Toni Hafkenscheid.

Loose Parts

Join us for a Thursday Curatorial Tour of this exhibition.

Upheaval is like an earthquake. Whether from external events or personal growth, it can shake inner worlds, deconstruct long-held patterns, and free ideas from tight grips. In its aftermath, formerly rigid orders are scattered and frayed, appearing more fluid than before; within this creative threshold, the pieces left behind beg for new orientations and arrangements. A loving embrace of queerness and being in flux, the exhibition Loose Parts takes pleasure in the beauty, openness, and potential of in-between spaces and holding things lightly. Artists sophia bartholomew, Akash Inbakumar, and Justin Mezzapelli do this with intention, creating laborious works that unfasten and reorder social structures and conceptions of self through a queer lens.

In an early educational context, the theory of loose parts is a learning strategy that encourages the development of creative problem-solving skills through tactile play. Adopted as the title of this exhibition, the spirit of loose parts is carried into a collection of artworks that engage with repetitive acts of assembly. In this case, the artists work with everyday objects such as flower petals, pine needles, bread tags, and paper. Gathering and sorting, covering and weaving, their provisional installations propose a way of relating with ourselves and others that is imbued with curiosity and flexibility and is attentive to the inevitable condition of impermanence. 

Seeking kinship and wisdom in ancient mythologies, art making processes, and personal experiences of becoming, the works in this exhibition yield to, rather than resist, uneven ground. Whether by choice or necessity, grief is a space where we lose and let go of things as they are. Loose Parts proposes that these familiar tools, held at arm’s length, might be the building blocks for creating the world one wants to live in. It is an invitation to come home to yourself and carve out space for your flourishing.

Artists Bios:

sophia bartholomew works outwards from the ruins and runes of their own cultural inheritance, adapting found and salvaged materials to create material-spiritual constructions. Their sculpture and installation work exists as part of an open and living system – borrowing its poetics from craft patterns and junk piles, stories and sagas, improvised adaptations and decisions of necessity. sophia is descended from Norwegian immigrants on Treaty 3 territory in rural Northwestern Ontario and English and Irish settlers in so-called Toronto. They recently completed their MFA studies at the University of Guelph.

Akash Inbakumar is an interdisciplinary artist, primarily working in textiles, based in Tkaronto. Their practice explores personal racialized queer narratives and material kinship, grounded in craft methodology. Inbakumar graduated from OCAD University in 2020 and has since completed a residency at Xpace Cultural Center and is currently starting their second year of the Harbourfront Center: Craft and Design residency. They have shown work at Patel Brown, Harbourfront Center, Xpace, and Artscape Gibraltar Point.

Justin Mezzapelli is an interdisciplinary artist interested in poetics, domesticity, multiplicity, and queerness. The intersections of these domains emerge in his practice while he draws on the mundane to organize meaning. His work manifests as found material and image-based examinations of subdued identity, often in transitory states. Employing ordinary objects or knowledge as semiotic tools, he delineates the appearance of selfhood parallel to distinctly unassuming worlds. Justin holds a BFA in Integrated Media from OCAD University. He is currently based in Whitby, Ontario.

Installation of Loose Parts at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2022. Images by Toni Hafkenscheid.

The Beyond Within

Organized and produced in partnership with the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery.

This exhibition opens at Illingworth Kerr Gallery in Calgary, January 19, 2023

As a surface with only one side, the Mobius strip resists orientation. To trace its surface is to experience left becoming right, outside flipping in, and time assuming the shape of an infinite loop. While its perimeter is defined, it is the twist in the loop that prevents predictability. Within static institutions and other familiar containers, is it possible to experience a similar twist – a radical detour – that encourages us to build our worlds anew?

Underpinned by feminist conceptions of the everyday as a basis for political engagement with the world, The Beyond Within proposes strategies for reorientation. In two videos made in collaboration with Paris-based artist Maïder Fortuné, pedagogical roles are underwritten by radical forms of intimacy. OUTHERE (For Lee Lozano) incorporates documentation from a 1971 lecture at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design alongside archives and an astrological reading to give form to an influential recluse: the late conceptual artist Lee Lozano. In Communicating Vessels, friendship and artmaking become productive, if precarious, portals through which to escape the isolation of the self.

Psychedelic experience as a means to dissolve the ego and yield new models of collectivity is central to the new installation, Set and Setting. This work is informed by historical and contemporary psychedelic trials performed within research settings. Juxtaposing animated drawings sourced from early trial documents and architectural sets that recall institutional examination rooms, Set and Setting suggests that the boundary between subject and viewer is not only thin, but porous and continuously shifting. 


By making use of radical and lateral modes of thinking and storytelling, MacDonell affirms how art can be both a necessary clarifier and serve as an essential tool in world building.

Annie MacDonell is a visual artist and filmmaker. Her early training was in photography, and the image continues to play a central role in her projects. Her work also includes installation, sculpture, writing, and performance. In recent years, film has become a focus. Her films (sometimes produced with collaborator Maïder Fortuné) are shaped by feminists principles of politics as a daily practice. .

She received a BFA from Ryerson University in 2000, followed by graduate studies at Le Fresnoy, Studio National des Arts Contemporains, in France. Her films “Book of Hours” (2019) and “Communicating Vessels” (with Maïder Fortuné, 2020) have screened extensively internationally. Recent solo shows have been held at Gallery 44, Parisian Laundry, the AGO, and the Art Gallery of Mississauga. She has participated in group shows at The Art Museum of the University of Toronto, CAG Vancouver and Mackenzie Art Gallery. Recent performances have been presented at Nuit Blanche Toronto, le Centre Pompidou and the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2012 she was short-listed for the AGO AIMIA prize for photography, and she was long listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2012, 2015 and 2016. In 2020, she and Maïder Fortuné won the Tiger Award for Best Short Film at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, for their film “Communicating Vessels”.

Installation of Annie MacDonell: The Beyond Within at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2022. Images by Toni Hafkenscheid.

True Currency

True Currency is an exhibition about indebtedness and exchange. Bringing together works that explore alternative economies, reciprocity, indebtedness, labour, and wellbeing, this show looks at how value is produced through the circulation of goods and ideas. Within our current market economy, competition and accumulation are prioritized above all else, but what is lost through these ways of relating? In a time of precarity, generalized anxiety, and ecological collapse, how do we sustain ourselves? How do we understand the discrepancies between those who profit from extraction and those who feel its effects?

In his classic book, The Gift, Lewis Hyde proposes that all artwork is necessarily a gift because the artist offers it freely to their audience. When gifts circulate, their commerce leaves a series of interconnected relationships in its wake, and a kind of decentralized cohesiveness emerges. Taking up exchange as both subject matter and form, the artworks here have been produced through various forms of collaboration. In looking at informal seed exchanges, mutual aid networks, gig economies, and solidarity groups, the works offer strategies for cooperation and resilience, seeing reciprocity as a marker or survival, capacity and flourishing.

Christina Battle is an artist based in amiskwacîwâskahikan, (also known as Edmonton, Alberta), within the Aspen Parkland: the transition zone where prairie and forest meet. Her practice focuses on thinking deeply about the concept of disaster: its complexity, and the intricacies that are entwined within it. Much of this work extends from her recent PhD dissertation (2020) which looked closer to community responses to disaster: the ways in which they take shape, and especially to how online models might help to frame and strengthen such response. She is currently the Online Editor for BlackFlash magazine, dedicated to presenting critical opinions, urgent issues and divergent artistic practices from across the prairies, Canada, and beyond. She collaborates with Serena Lee as SHATTERED MOON ALLIANCE and has exhibited internationally in festivals and galleries as both artist and curator, most recently at: The MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina), The Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba (Brandon), The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (Colorado), Latitude 53 (Edmonton), The John & Maggie Mitchell Gallery (Edmonton), Harbourfront Centre (Toronto),  Capture Photography Festival (Vancouver); Forum Expanded at the Berlinale (Berlin), Blackwood Gallery (Mississauga), Trinity Square Video (Toronto), and Untitled Art Society (Calgary).

Helen Cho is a Pickering-based artist whose practice spans sculpture, video, performance, drawing, text and photography, and draws from translations of language, tradition and the sites and materials of everyday habits. Her artistic practice contemplates the ever-shifting emotional landscapes of migration, language, memory, and representation. It considers objects, sites, transactions, and mass-produced materiality of everyday life as contained within human desire and the attendant struggle for connection. Cho holds an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London (UK) and has exhibited internationally. Her artworks have been exhibited at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; Kunstverein Wolfsberg, Wolfsberg; Kumho Museum, Seoul; National Musuem of Contemporary Arts, South Korea; SFU Galleries, Vancouver; Articule, Monteral; Galerie Martin van Zomeren, Amsterdam; and Galerie Magnus Müller, Berlin, among others. She has participated in artists-in-residences at Ssamziespace, Seoul; the Banff Centre, Banff; and European Ceramic Work Centre, Oisterwijk, the Netherlands.

Alvin Luong (梁超洪) creates artworks based on stories of human migration, land, and dialogues from the diasporic working class communities that he lives and works with. These stories are combined with biography to produce artworks that reflect upon issues of historical development, political economy, and social reproduction; and how these issues intimately affect the lives of people. In 2021, the artist was Artist-In-Residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), screened work at The Polygon Gallery in a co-presentation with Centre A (Vancouver), and presented solo exhibitions at Modern Fuel Artist-Run-Centre (Kingston, CA) and The New Gallery (Calgary); and produced and co-wrote a book published by The New Gallery Press (Calgary).

Sofia Mesa (b. 1995 Bogota, Colombia) is a multidisciplinary artist working with the cyanotype process, photography, drawing,  sculpture and furniture design. Her cyanotype work began as a way to tangibly document/photograph/imprint bodies due to the weight of the body being an integral facet to the creation of the image. She is interested in proof of life, conserving it, and material exploration. She often works with various collaborators, the sun and the water being two principal ones,  non-artists and community members. She has exhibited in various museums, galleries and artist run spaces in Toronto and New York City such as The Art Gallery of Ontario; Gallery TPW; Galley 44; The KUBE (NYC) and was commissioned by Contact Photography Festival in 2017 to create a public installation “Guardians” at Allan Gardens: a collection of artworks that displayed the necessity and reality of community. Sofia lives and works between New York City and Medellin. 

Dana Prieto (born in 1984, Argentina; lives in Toronto, Canada) is an artist and educator with a site-responsive art practice that manifests in installation, performance, writing and diverse collaborations. Her work examines our intimate and collective entanglements with colonial institutions and power structures, calling for careful attention to ways of relating, thinking, making and consuming in the Anthropocene. Dana holds a Master of Visual Studies from the University of Toronto, and her work has been presented in national and international galleries, public spaces and informal cultural venues.

Cassie Thornton an artist and activist who makes a “safe space” for the unknown, for disobedience, and for unanticipated collectivity. She uses social practices including institutional critique, insurgent architecture, and “healing modalities” like hypnosis and yoga to find soft spots in the hard surfaces of capitalist life. Cassie has invented a grassroots alternative credit reporting service for the survivors of gentrification, has hypnotized hedge fund managers, has finger-painted with the grime found inside banks, has donated cursed paintings to profiteering bankers, and has taught feminist economics to yogis (and vice versa). Her new book, The Hologram: Feminist, Peer-to-Peer Health for a Post-Pandemic Future, is available from Pluto Press. She is currently the co-director of the Re-Imagining Value Action Lab in Thunder Bay, an art and social centre at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada.

Installation of True Currency at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2022. Photos by Toni Hafkenscheid.