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Gardiner Museum presents a full summer of free public programming

2 years ago

Community Arts Space projects explore how social justice and joy can co-exist

TORONTO—Inspired by the transformative potential of clay, the Gardiner Museum is giving a platform to local artists, curators, youth, and community organizers who represent some of the city’s diverse voices, experiences, and histories, and are shaping its future.

Launched in 2016, the Community Arts Space promotes experimentation and socially-engaged art through a full summer of free public projects, including exhibitions, hands-on workshops, talks, and performances that inspire conversation and social action.

What we long for

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 year’s theme, “What we long for,” explores the ways in which justice and pleasure can co-exist as counterpoints to calling out, gaslighting, exhaustion, and burnout. The four public projects engage with community healing, survival tools, the gaps between community and institutional memory, and how craft creates opportunities for acknowledgment and action.

“There are so many hidden stories and unique histories in our city that are being overlooked or forcibly erased, particularly in the midst of rapid gentrification. This summer’s Community Arts Space projects celebrate the importance of making space for community memory both within and beyond the museum walls,” said Rea McNamara, Programs Manager.

The projects include a podcast series presented in partnership with Hyperallergic featuring artists Kent Monkman and Shary Boyle; an exhibition by youth artists in the form of a contemporary beauty salon; an exploration of cruising histories in Toronto’s Black, Trans, and Queer communities; and an installation of clay butterflies intended to mobilize conversation and action around the decline of the monarch butterfly and the migrant crisis.

The Gardiner partnered with three neighbourhood hubs—The 519, Art Starts, and Akin Collective—to offer support to the projects in the form of studio space and mentorship.

The Community Arts Space project launches on July 11 with the opening of the youth-led exhibition Hair We Are, and a conversation between editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic, Hrag Vartanian, and artist Shary Boyle.

The Community Arts Space: What we long for runs from July 9 to September 4, 2019.

Visit gardinermuseum.com/whatwelongfor to learn more.


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

Hyperallergic is a forum for serious, playful, and radical perspectives on art and culture. Read by a million people each month, it is a source for art news, views, and reviews. Established in 2018, Art Movements is Hyperallergic’s leading art podcast designed to connect the general public to the diverse stories of art around the world. As a student at the University of Toronto, host Hrag Vartanian was a frequent visitor to the Gardiner Museum. Inspired by the Gardiner’s collection, this series of four episodes invites prominent artists like Shary Boyle and Kent Monkman to explore issues at the intersection of contemporary ceramics and museums.

July 11, 7:30 – 9 pm
Hrag Vartanian in Conversation with Shary Boyle
Hrag Vartanian moderates a public conversation with artist Shary Boyle on the social history of ceramic objects and contemporary art.
Hair We Are
July 11 to 24
Co-presented with Art Starts and VIBE Arts

Beauty salons and barbershops have long served as important sites in the Black community. They provide far more than hair care, acting as safe spaces for people to exchange stories and build strong bonds. Led by artist Igho Diana of VIBE Arts, youth from Art Starts present an exhibition in the form of a contemporary beauty salon that explores self-care and changing concepts of beauty. Hair We Are reflects on objects in the Gardiner’s collection of European ceramics made for the boudoir and female-only social spaces. The project challenges racialized girls and young women to use their lived experiences to re-think and re-contextualize historical objects as a means of bringing their own histories to the fore.

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 am – 3 pm
Family Sunday: Self-Care Rituals
Join us for a hands-on self-care workshop and learn how to make your own body butter and hair care products.

Encounters ~ Animate Histories
August 1 to 15
Co-presented with The 519, Salon Noir, and YYZ Artists Outlet

Inspired by the cruising histories of nearby Queen’s Park, Intimate Encounters ~ Animate Histories considers how experiences of desire, physical expression, and social connection take up space across Toronto, and how this is complicated by increasing gentrification. Led by artist Abdi Osman and curator Ellyn Walker, this project makes visible the dignity, love, and generative practices in local Black, Trans, and Queer histories through community art-making workshops, programs, and an exhibition.

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

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

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 clay butterfly-making workshops. Facilitated by Monterrey, Mexico-born artist Lourdes (Lumy) Fuentes and Community Minister and artist Tina Conlon during their residency at Akin St Clair, these art-making activities explored the challeng­es faced by migrants in the context of the monarch but­terfly’s risk of extinction. Installed in the Gardiner’s Exhibition Hall and Ancient Americas Gallery, the ceramic butterflies are intended to mobilize conversation and action around the decline of the monarch and the migrant crisis.

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

August 22, 6 – 8 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, and refreshments.

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.


The Gardiner Museum brings together people of all ages and backgrounds through the shared values of creativity, wonder, and community that clay and ceramic traditions inspire.

The George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art was founded by Toronto businessperson and philanthropist George Gardiner and his wife Helen in 1984, and was established in a building designed by Keith Wagland on the campus of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. The Museum was managed by the Royal Ontario Museum from 1987 to 1996 and then, with an additional endowment from George Gardiner before his death in 1997, became and remains an independent, non-profit museum. The Gardiner’s remarkable building was substantially renovated in 2004 by KPMB Architects.

The Gardiner Museum’s collection of ceramics comprises approximately 4,000 objects, and focuses on specific areas which have been collected in depth. These include the most important collection of European porcelain in Canada, with particular strengths in Meissen, Vienna, and Hausmaler decorated porcelain, as well as a comprehensive collection of figures inspired by the commedia dell’arte. It holds the best collection of Italian Renaissance maiolica in Canada, and a superb collection of English tin-glazed pottery. The Gardiner preserves highly significant collections of ceramics from the Ancient Americas, Chinese blue and white porcelain, Japanese porcelain, and contemporary Canadian ceramics. It also houses a research library and archives, clay studios, award-winning Shop, and a restaurant.

The Gardiner Museum is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and is one of the world’s most notable specialty museums. For more information, please visit: www.gardinermuseum.com.


Media Contact:
Rachel Weiner
Senior Manager, Marketing
Gardiner Museum

Neighbourhood Hubs

The 519 logo

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.

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.

Art Starts logo

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

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