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Visitors at a Community Arts Space event in 2018

Community Arts Space: What we long for

Thu Jul 11 to Sep 04, 2019All Day

Grounded in the real and metaphorical 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 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, counter-archives, survival tools, transformative justice, the gaps between community and institutional memory, and how making can be a site for acknowledgement and action.

Access to all projects and their supporting public programs is free.

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

Led by artist Igho Diana, VIBE Arts will re-create a contemporary beauty salon environment 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 recontextualize and challenge historical objects. Learn more

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

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

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

Every summer and winter, monarch butterflies migrate across the North American continent. Coinciding with the monarch’s arrival in Canada and their departure to Mexico during The Day of the Dead, the Davenport Perth Community Ministry collaborated with residents on the creation of a multitude of ceramic butterflies installed in the Gardiner’s exhibition hall and Ancient Americas gallery. Led by artists Lourdes (Lumy) Fuentes and Tina Conlon, these art-making activities explored the difficult situations faced my migrants, alongside the the monarch’s risk of extinction and its significance for ancient Indigenous cultures. Learn more

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.

Community Partners

Canada Nos Une Multicultural Organization

Salon Noir

YYZ Artists Outlet