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Home /  Exhibitions / Past Exhibitions / Community Arts Space: What we long for
Visitors at a Community Arts Space event in 2018

Community Arts Space: What we long for

Tue Jul 09 to Sep 04, 2019, All Day

Grounded in the ability of clay to transform, the Gardiner Museum’s Community Arts Space is a platform for experimentation and socially-engaged art. Established in 2016, it connects artists, makers, organizers, and residents through the creation of public projects that inspire social action.

“How would we organize and move our communities if we shifted to focus on what we long for and love, rather than what we are negatively reacting to?”

– adrienne maree brown

This question posed by author and social justice facilitator adrienne maree brown addresses how pleasure has emerged within community organizing circles as an important part of collective healing and social change. For brown—who builds on the work of Black feminist thinker Audre Lorde and science fiction novelist Ursula K. Le Guin—justice and pleasure need to co-exist as counterpoints to calling out, gaslighting, exhaustion, and burnout. In contemporary ceramics, female artists like Arlene Shechet and Simone Leigh are using clay to explore pleasure, beauty, and self-care.

Community Arts Space: What we long for showcases four public projects that engage with community healing, survival tools, transformative justice, the gaps between community and institutional memory, and how craft creates opportunities for acknowledgment and action.

Access to all Community Arts Space projects and public programs is free.

Art Movements
Podcast Project
Co-presented with Hyperallergic
July 9 – August 20

This podcast series invites prominent artists and cultural figures to explore the social history of ceramic objects and their multifaceted role in our culture. Incorporating anecdotes, art history, and archival recordings that illuminate the history of contemporary art and craft, this limited-run podcast series encourages the public to explore new worlds of creativity and art. Learn more

July 11, 7:30 – 9 pm
Hrag Vartanian in Conversation with Shary Boyle
Hrag Vartanian moderates a public conversation with Canadian artist Shary Boyle on the social history of ceramic objects and contemporary art.

Hair We Are
Youth Project
Co-presented with Art Starts and VIBE Arts
July 11 – 24

Led by artist Igho Diana of VIBE Arts, youth from Art Starts create an exhibition in the form of a contemporary beauty salon exploring self-care and how concepts of beauty have evolved through time and cultures. Reflecting on selected works from the Gardiner’s European Earthenware and Porcelain Collections, the Youth Project focuses on how racialized girls and young women can use their lived experiences to re-contextualize and challenge historical objects. Learn more

July 11, 6 – 8 pm
Hair We Are Launch
Mingle with the artists and collaborators, and enjoy music, youth artist-led tours, and refreshments.

July 14, 11:30 am – 1:45 pm
Family Sunday: Self-Care Rituals
Join us for a hands-on self-care workshop and learn how to make your very own body butter and hair care products.

Intimate Encounters ~ Animate Histories
Transformative Justice Project
Co-presented with The 519, Salon Noir, and YYZ Artists Outlet
August 1 – 15

Inspired by the ‘cruising’ histories of Queen’s Park, Intimate Encounters ~ Animate Histories considers the diverse ways in which culturally-specific experiences of desire, physical expression, and social connection take up space across Toronto, and how this is complicated by an increasingly gentrified urban landscape. Led by artist Abdi Osman and curator Ellyn Walker, this project makes visible the dignity, love, and generative practices embedded in local Black, Trans, and Queer histories through community art-making workshops, programs, and a cumulative exhibition. Learn more

Please note: This exhibition contains explicit sexual content.

July 4, 6 – 7:15 pm
Outdoor Walking Tour: Cruising Histories of Queen’s Park
Inspired by local queer ‘cruising’ histories of nearby Queen’s Park, artist Abdi Osman leads a walking excursion around the park grounds.

July 18, 6 – 7:30 pm
Public Talk: Unsettling the Myths of the 1969 Criminal Code Reform
Historian-activist Gary Kinsman presents his research around the mythologies of the 1969 Criminal Code reform.

August 1, 6 – 9 pm
Intimate Encounters ~ Animate Histories Exhibition Launch
Join us for the exhibition opening of Intimate Encounters ~ Animate Histories, featuring a live DJ set and a special drag performance.

August 8, 6 – 8 pm
Refusing Gentrification: Community Arts & Practice(s)
Activist-artist-educator Yusra Khogali leads a panel with local Regent Park artists on the politics of gentrification in their neighbourhood.

August 14, 6:30 – 7:30 pm
Reading Room: Queen’s Park Oral History Transcriptions
Join us for a collective reading and discussion of anonymous transcripts from artist Abdi Osman’s oral history research around cruising encounters in Queen’s Park.

September 12, 6:30 – 7:30 pm
Reading Room: Queen’s Park Oral History Transcriptions
Join us for a collective reading and discussion of anonymous transcripts from artist Abdi Osman’s oral history research around cruising encounters in Queen’s Park.

The Sin Fronteras Monarch Butterfly Project – A Flight Path Without Borders
Co-presented with Akin, Canada Nos Une Multicultural Organization, and the ROM
August 22 – September 4

Every summer and winter, the monarch butterflies migrate across the North American continent. Coinciding with the arrival of monarch butterflies in Canada and their departure to Mexico, the Davenport Perth Community Ministry, alongside Canada Nos Une Multicultural Organization, held a series workshops and events within the Davenport Perth community. These workshops led to the creation of a multitude of ceramic butterflies that highlight Turtle Island’s connection with ancient Indigenous cultures and the monarch. Learn more

July 17, 6 – 9 pm
Clay & Conversation
Make ceramic butterflies that will be part of The Sin Fronteras Monarch Butterfly Project.

July 24, 6 – 9 pm
Clay & Conversation
Make ceramic butterflies that will be part of The Sin Fronteras Monarch Butterfly Project.

August 22, 5 – 9 pm
Exhibition Launch
All are welcome to attend the public opening of The Sin Fronteras Monarch Butterfly Project, featuring a butterfly dance performed by seniors of the Davenport-Perth Community, music, refreshments, and more.

August 25, 11 am – 3 pm
Family Sunday: Spread Your Wings
Just before the monarch butterflies begin their annual migration to Mexico, join us for a special ceramic butterfly-making workshop in English and Spanish.

Neighbourhood Hubs


The 519 is committed to the health, happiness, and full participation of the LGBTQ2S community. A City of Toronto agency and a registered charity with an innovative model of Service, Space and Leadership, The 519 strives to make a real difference in people’s lives while working to promote inclusion, understanding, and respect. Learn more

Akin logo

Akin is a Toronto-based arts organization that provides affordable studio space as well as arts-based programming through its sister non-profit organization, Akin Projects. Akin provides space to nearly 250 visual artists, designers, and creatives in studios that maintain a friendly and inspiring atmosphere where people can work on creative endeavors and entrepreneurial undertakings of all kinds. Akin builds community through monthly art critiques, free or low-cost workshops, open studio events, gallery tours, exhibitions, as well as various other projects.

For 25 years, Art Starts programs have benefited thousands of people living in marginalized Toronto neighbourhoods by providing a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for self-expression and creative collaboration. They afford opportunities for vulnerable people of all ages to contribute to the creative ecology of their neighbourhoods, using the arts to help end the negative cycles associated with marginalization and poverty.

Project Partners

Susan Crocker & John Hunkin

Rosemary Phelan, The Langar Foundation

Community Partners

Canada Nos Une Multicultural Organization

Royal Ontario Museum logo

Salon Noir


Media Partner

NOW Magazine logo

Community Arts Space: What we long for is organized by Rea McNamara, Programs Manager; Alejandra Higuera, Community Arts Space Project Coordinator; Siobhan Boyd, Senior Manager of Education and Programs/Adjunct Curator; Sequoia Miller, Chief Curator; with Celia Zhang, Digital Engagement Specialist, and Sebastian Pines, Community Arts Space Impact and Engagement Assistant.