Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Lillian Allen & Joanna Black: Learning for Social Change

(Joanna Black) Work by Scott Boyko

(Lillan Allen) Photo of HYP by Martin Reid

Opening Feb. 5, 5.30 - 7 pm. Conversation 6 pm
Exhibition runs from Feb 6 - May 4, 2018 9 AM -8 PM daily.
CWSE Hallway Gallery
OISE/UT, 252 Bloor Street West (just east of St. George & Bloor), 2nd Floor, Toronto
FREE and accessible.

Link to images from the opening as photographed and reinterpreted by Miklos Legrady:

While socially engaged art, as a category of practice, is still a working construct, the artist who identifies as such is an individual whose specialty includes working professionally with/in society. Writes Pablo Helguera (2011) in Education for Socially Engaged Art, “Standard education practices – such as engagement with audiences, inquiry-based methods, collaborative dialogues, and hands-on activities – provide an ideal framework for process-based and collaborative conceptual [creative] practices (p. xi).” “Students” facilitated by socially engaged artists/educators become aware of why they are acting and learn how to act in an effective way.
Toronto, dub poet, activist and writer Lillian Allen and Manitoba artist, researcher and educator Joanna Black, as socially engaged cultural workers, facilitate artists'/educators' creative work within precarious and racialized communities. Both women are professors at universities and value partnerships, process, and collaboration toward action-in-community. Their students’ creative activity has been animated, shared and presented locally and internationally.
Each woman mentors young adult students: Lillian Allen works with artists, designers and writers in liberal studies at OCAD University and Joanna Black facilitates emergent teachers in visual art teacher education at University of Manitoba. Their teaching encourages students to focus not only internally in critical and creative making, but also outward among each other and in company with community. A complex dialogue ensues where social critique, understanding, and engagement are valued.
Black’s digiART project provides a venue where emergent teachers, mostly young adults, can examine human rights issues through the creation of new media texts ranging from photographs, videos, and animations to graphic novels and performance art; while Allen’s students develop and facilitate interactive creative writing and art workshops to connect youth to their creative power in context of developing a collective voice. Allen's projects are in collaboration with the Winsom Foundation in Belize and the Hamilton Youth Poets. 

These education–as–art projects aim to democratize viewers, making them partners, participants, or collaborators in the construction of the works. “This is a powerful and positive re-envisioning of education that can only happen in art, as it depends on art’s unique patterns of performativity, experience, and exploration of ambiguity (Helguera, 2011, p. 81).” It is a productive and transformative activity.

Joanna Black would like to thank the University of Manitoba for funding assistance for this project.
Lillian Allen would like to thank OCAD University, the Hamilton Youth Poets, Winsom Foundation.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

leaning in

Opening & CWSE Open House: Monday Oct 2, 5:30-7PM
CWSE Hallway Gallery, OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, 2nd Floor
Exhibition runs until January 26, 2018
Open Daily from 9AM-6PM
FREE & Wheelchair accessible.

leaning in acts as a narrative viewing of nine artists lives: Koren Bellman, Katie Caslick, Jeanette Doyon, Tammy Francis, Kathy Keenan, John Lai, Drew Smith, Linda Sofranko and Candace Wilkins. For this exhibition, the group focussed on developing ideas around personal growth, the subconscious, release, new life, faith, friends, a seven-year plan and nature.

The work for leaning in, like most of the artwork created at NEXTDOOR, is process-based.  I think leaning in is a purposeful, and radical, act.  I believe leaning in, at its core, means that individuals choose to be present and to give energy to themselves or another.  To lean in means to make space and time for something or someone.  The idea of leaning in requires thought and purpose. In a society that is so fast-paced and so short of time, do we have time to lean in to what is important to us, what we are curious about, what we are missing?  I invite you to take a moment to lean in to what we have created here and to reflect on what leaning in means to you.

It’s time to get radical about how we spend our time and how we engage in community.  What is your passion and how do you radicalize it?  Making what has been free for me available to my community is radical!  And there are people who want to do the same thing as I do and we find each other.

How do you want to spend your time?  What do you allow yourself to do? What is your truth? What is privilege?  What is art?  What is living?  How can you be present when being alone is painful? 

What I really love about facilitating this art group is that it’s about exploring ourselves through the process of making art. It’s not about what the artwork looks like at the end of the day. We do share skills here, and we do have visiting artists, but it’s not an art class. It’s more about connecting with community, engaging in dialogue, and creating inclusive space.
All I want to do is be messy.  All I want is to hang out and not be alone.  Let’s make art!  Let’s lean into being.  I live here and the stats are…   how can I make things more comfortable for me… how can I take a deep breath? Bob Marley.  Oil pastels.  Free canvas & paint.  Just create.  Open the door. Connect. Nourish. Accept. No judgement. Welcome & invite.  My agenda is to paint. Explore & be open & curious.   Lean in.

 NEXTDOOR is a community art studio facilitated by Candace Wilkins and was conceived by Candace Wilkins, Pam Patterson and Matthew Christie.  We are a part of the Art Hive movement. NEXTDOOR meets in the John Howard Society building in Belleville Ontario and welcomes everyone as artists.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Ghazaleh Baniahmad
May 01 -  September 30, 2017
Opening: Monday May 1st, 5.30-7pm
Artist Talk: 6 pmCWSE Hallway Gallery

2nd Floor OISE
252 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON
10am - 8pm daily
Free & accessible

Four years ago, I moved with my family to Canada. At that time, my mother had her first stroke. Since then my life – as artist and daughter - has shifted. I focus my attention now on my daily struggle as a woman and on being a daughter of a sick mother and an immigrant. My creative work addresses three themes: mother, immigration and dreams.

I reflect on my, and my mother’s, personal journeys. The process I use requires me to excavate thoughts and emotions, and in analyzing these and by making art, I experience a healing. I focus on the love among women in our family: how my mother’s love shaped me and my sister and made us strong. My mother’s stroke has made it difficult for her to hide her emotions and now her daughters ponder whether we need to substantively show and share our own emotions to support her.

As an immigrant, I connect my personal life experiences and my Iranian heritage to my understanding of Canadian culture. My work reflects my immigration story within the context of my mother’s illness. My intention is to facilitate a dialogue with my viewers, inviting a resonance among our potentially similar stories.

I have researched dreams, symbols, and dream talismans and have created an index of dream symbols which I draw upon. I sometimes feel as if I am living in two worlds: in Canada and, in my dreams, in the country of my childhood. My dreams have been predominately located in my childhood homes but now, after living in Canada for four years, my Canadian experiences are becoming incorporated into my dream narratives.

I experiment and work intuitively with materials and processes using drawing, painting, photo-collage, sculpture and mixed media. I also use photography and found images and work primarily in black and white. This palette acts as a rich metaphor for memory.

My new research addresses my growing self-awareness of the unconscious. And, as my practice develops, I continue to find diverse ways to incorporate and manipulate materials to communicate my experiences to audiences.

Ghazaleh Baniahmad completed a BFA in Graphic Design in Tehran and moved to Canada in 2011. This new Canadian environment and her subsequent BFA in Fine Arts at OCAD University, assisted her in uniquely melding Iranian and contemporary Western styles. The result is an inclusive and accessible visual language. She uses this language to communicate with, and draw empathy from, a broad audience. Ghazaleh focuses on her personal life experiences which can be shared and open possibilities for a universal artistic dialogue.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

IRIS at 20 for FAC 2017

Jan. 9, 2017 to April 28, 2017

IRIS at 20

Opening: Monday January 16, 5.30-7.30 
Panel: 6.30-7.30

CWSE Hallway Gallery
252 Bloor Street West, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON

Exhibition Dates:
Jan. 9 2017 to April 28 2017
Open days & evenings: free & accessible

Over many years of International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations, the IRIS Group has mounted a series of Women In . . . projects and events that involved the collection of donated objects, images and writings invested with personal or symbolic meaning. These intimate donations represent a culture of gracious sharing among women. The items now form an IRIS archive, which is part of an extensive dialogue concerning women’s issues. Each IRIS member has chosen an item and partnered it  with new artwork, retaining, expanding or reinterpreting the original story that accompanied the donation. IRIS at 20 was first exhibited at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, in celebration of the group’s 20th anniversary. The CWSE Gallery exhibit will include original artwork and photographic works on paper that document large works, delicate materials and installation pieces. The visual work will be accompanied by individual artist’s statements. 

The installation entitled, The Archive, is a compilation of donated objects suspended within steel bowls. The reflective, metal framework and concave surface creates optical distortions and perceptions that engage and require further investigation, encasing each piece in its own physical reflection. The ritualistic role of the bowl, the domesticity of the containers and their connection to gender roles, and the tradition of displayed, archived objects are examined elements of The Archive.

IRIS at 20's exhibit is WIA's satellite exhibition for Feminist Art Conference 2017 and will serve to focus our activities around International Women’s Day at the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE), OISE/University of Toronto.

The IRIS Group, a visual arts collective of ten women artists, was formed in 1996 as a forum whose aim is to raise levels of access for women in the arts, share ideas, offer mutual support, and develop projects that further the overall intentions of the group. IRIS has exhibited work and mounted women-centred outreach projects in public and private galleries and on campuses in Ontario, Alberta and New York State.  Recent exhibition activity includes IRIS at 20 at RMG Oshawa and FILMIC at Station Gallery Whitby.  Catalogues and other publications are available at

International Women's Day publication recording the herstory of IRIS IWD exhibitions:
IRIS is a member of CARFAC Ontario.
Participating artists for IRIS at 20Laura M. Hair, Judith Mason, Mary Ellen McQuay, Margaret Rodgers, Janice Taylor-Prebble, Sally Thurlow, Wendy Wallace
IRIS Contact person: Laura Hair: 

Iris Group;

Monday, September 12, 2016


Nazanin's stunning and evocative exhibition on critical and personal perspectives around breast cancer survivourship opens Sept 12!

Nazanin Khani has recently graduated from OCAD University in Sculpture-Installation. In her art she gets inspiration from the world through language, communication, and different sorts of knowledge one may acquire throughout her life.

Her works are expressive, inviting the viewer to immerse into a space of speculation. She relies on our desires for beauty, poetics, ecstasy and seduction. She bends, twists, scrapes, reforms, cuts, performs, records, and edits her materials to represent her dreams, memories, imagination, personal experiences, and social/cultural concerns from a critical point of view. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

NEXT DOOR - Candace Wilkins

 Feminist arts-informed community-based action research! 

Candace Wilkins is our arts informed research resident at WIAprojects this coming year April 2016-17. She has posted a gofundme campaign to raise funds for an arts informed community based  initiative focused in Belleville, updates and information on her project are below.

We look forward to her continuing work with us this coming year!  

Candace's Project: 
NEXTDOOR is an inclusive arts-based group in downtown Belleville, Ontario that promotes  creativity, poetry, the practice of loving kindness meditation, non-­judgment and compassion. The goal of NEXTDOOR is to support mental health by creating a safe space where individuals can come together on a weekly basis. This program is accessible with no cost to the participants.
This group is for those aged 18+

Monday Nights 6:00-­‐7:30pm

For more information and to register please email:

From Candace:
This program is important to me because I believe in the positive and healing impact that having a safe and creative space can give us. 

The gofundme campaign for the NEXTDOOR

If people would like to find out more about the group, or to donate by cheque or

 e-transfer they can contact me by email at  

Thank you,

Candace Wilkins

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sex/ism: ECHoes & ‘ReVERBS’ @ Ivory Towers with artist/researcher Joanna Black

May 02 – July 1st, 2016
Opening: May 02, 5.30 - 6.30pm
Informal Discussion with Artist: 6pm

CWSE Hallway Gallery
2nd Floor, OISE
252 Bloor Street West
(Bloor & St George)

Images by Joanna Black
Winnipeg artist/researcher Joanna Black explores prejudice in academia in Sex/ism: ECHoes & ‘ReVERBS’ @ Ivory TowersThe abundance of articles and reports about longstanding persistent sexist problems in our universities informed the content of this work. For this exhibition in particular, attention has been given to the University of Toronto (U of T).
Sexism at U of T was established in the university’s founding year, 1850. Its illustrious professor and president John McCaul firmly exclaimed at the time that the university doors would never be open to women in his day! (Canadian Encyclopedia, 2016). Even though the doors have been opened – and indeed during his day no less! – today’s glass ceiling remains intact: existent sexist attitudes are prevalent, and old boys’ networks stand strong at universities across Canada and internationally (ACPPU Bulletin, March 2016).  
For this exhibit, images are made using a stream-of-consciousness approach, in which text and imagery interact. Appropriation, multi-layering, ‘gazing’, and contextualization are used to create montages in which digital photographs are interlaced with grouped text and digital screen shots. Creating playfully montaged, layered, and appropriated digital texts, by using humor, and by paying homage to the well-known feminist artist group, The Guerrilla Girls, Black highlights sexism within our academic walls.

 Joanna Black is an emerging artist from Winnipeg Manitoba. She recently collaborated with ARTIFACTS artists, Pam Patterson & Leena Raudvee and Miklos Legrady as performance artist/composer/interpreter in/for Babble (Babel) at Hart House, U of T, 2013/14. Black works in traditional and new media specifically with video, photography, painting, blogs spaces, computerized art and sound developing arts-informed research. Black is a professor at the University of Manitoba cross-appointed with the Faculty of Education and the School of Visual Arts. She has exhibited her work in the United States and Canada.