2016-17 Programming

Sept 12, 2016 - Jan 06, 2017:

Nazanin Khani: My Hidden Self

Opening and informal Q & A with artist:
Monday Sept 12, 5.30-7 pm

Exhibition Dates:
Sept. 12, 2016 - Jan 6, 2017

CWSE Gallery
252 Bloor Street West, 2nd floor
Toronto, ON
(Near St. George subway station)
Open daily 10am until 8pm

Nazanin Khani’s works are expressive, inviting her viewers to immerse themselves in speculation. She relies on her audience’s desire for beauty, poetics, ecstasy and seduction. She bends, twists, scrapes, reforms, cuts, performs, records, and edits her materials to represent and investigate her dreams, memories, imagination, personal experiences, and social/cultural concerns from a critical point of view.

This recent work, My Hidden Self, is a story of pain and growing self-consciousness; a narrative representation of the various invisible disabilities caused by breast cancer treatment and the impact all this has on the treated and surviving body. This project deals with body politics and explores the challenges that young breast cancer survivors face, and critiques the very nature of what “survivorship” in this context means.

Nazanin Khani recently graduated from OCAD University in Sculpture-Installation. Her art practice is inspired and informed  by the many intersections she has experienced in language and communication and through various epistemological and phenomenological investigations.  

Nazanin Khani would like to thank the Toronto Arts Council for funding the research and development of this project.


Jan. 9, 2017 to April 28, 2017

IRIS at 20

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

Exhibition Dates:
Jan. 9 2017 to April 28 2017

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 http://www.theirisgroup.ca

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

Iris Group;


Spring 2017: 

OCADU grad, Ghazaleh Baniahmad

Exhibition dates: 
Opening: Monday May 1st, 5.30-7pm,  Artist Talk 6pm,  and  running through the summer ending September 30.

This body of work is a poetic research into my family's journey. As an immigrant, I like to connect my personal life experience, my Iranian historical and cultural identity, with my understanding of Canadian culture. My work reflects my experience with immigration and with my mother’s illness. 

At the same time, I like it to facilitate a connection between my art and my viewer. Some of my viewers might have had, or might have an understanding of, a similar life story. Images of my childhood play a significant role in my work and I believe these images can evoke similar feelings from others around the world.

After my mother’s stroke, I began to understand her influence and that of her ancestors on me and my sister. We are part of a women-centred family: there is my mother and her three sisters and my father (the only son) has four sisters. My mother, as the strongest and bravest member of her family, made a huge impact on her sister’s life and now I can see her fingerprints imprinted all over my character. I have been journeying and revisiting in memory the normal days we had together. I remember those  "normal" days as being the most important days that shaped my character.

The images I use also have this very Iranian feminine spirit. I use photography and found images, primarily in black and white (a metaphor for memory). I connect my paintings with photography by using a similar black and white palette in order to eliminate boundaries between them. This project tries to illustrate how similar we humans are and yet how significant and unique each of our stories can be.

I am trying to reveal how we can alter our memories into something more ideal. Our vivid dreams influence our memories and in turn, they become the memories. These spaces in my paintings are not accurate and not exactly like the actual place. They are just the way I remember them.

Contemporary artist Ghazaleh Baniahmad was born in September 1983 in Tehran, Iran. She finished her bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design there and moved to Canada a few years later in 2011. This new Canadian environment plus her BFA in Fine Arts at OCAD University, has helped her find her own way to connect her original Iranian style with modern art in order to create a special language. This language helps her to communicate with a broader range of audiences through different materials. Her main focus is on her personal life experiences that can affect empathy in, for and with others ; these experiences that can be mutually felt across many people's lives. That, notes Baniahmad,  is key to a universal artistic dialogue.

Other People/Research Projects:

Curator-in-Residence (2016): Julia Pereria, OCAD University
Julia will be facilitating all three exhibitions this year & assisting as FAC liaison in January. 

Artist-in-Residence (2016-17): Joanna Black, University of Manitoba

Project: The Universities’ Conundrum: Addressing Equity and Diversity (linked creation/research project in collaboration with Pam Patterson CWSE/OISE/UT). Investigation of the condition of universities in Canada and arts programs in particular.

Community-based Researcher-in-Residence (2016-17): Candace Wilkins
ProjectNEXTDOOR is an inclusive arts-based group that promotes mental health by creating a safe space where individuals can come together on a weekly basis. The goal is to create a safe space that is inclusive to individuals 18+, NEXTDOOR promotes mental health and well-being through poetry, art and meditation. 

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