Saturday, November 3, 2012

Food=Need Event Oct 29-Nov 1st

Food=Need our big fall event concluded this week. What can I say, it was wonderful! Margaret Dragu our visiting artist from BC made this video from stills & video from the community home bread-making kitchen party and also from the Thurs evening dinner, reception and performance event at the DPNCHC. 

Comments from some of our participants:
Jay Smith (technician): Thank you for inviting me to be involved in the Food=Need project. It was a valuable and memorable experience for me. I enjoyed meeting the artists and community members and helping to make the event a success. It was a pleasure working closely with each of you and I would love to do so in the future.

claude wittmann (artist)….Something about "the chicken will arrive at around 2:30pm"
THE HEN. When Ron arrived with one of his hens, he suggested that she be in the big fence-like animal cage that he had brought. So, we transferred her from the cat carrier to the cage. She became quite nervous. I found that singing an Edith Piaf song was helping and that voicing "shhhhhhh..." was even more effective. She would also calm down instantenously at the sound of children's voices. It was incredible to be inbetween this grave I was digging with quite beautiful and light pleasure, and the chicken calling for attention. Suddenly I was attending to life more than to death just right there, very simply. It was both full of life and full of pain for some quite unknown reason. Towards the end of the performance, I felt the urge to try to go into the cage. I did go and I used Ron's advice on how to touch a hen to stop her. She and I stayed together for a while. My hand was warm on her back. I could feel her relaxing. I sang. When I got out, she stayed very calm and that was the time to open the cage. She quite quickly went out and ran to be on top of the dirt I had digged out. She happily picked. About 45 minutes later, Simlâ and I moved her back into the cage and Ron took her back home after the market.
THE GRAVE. I found myself swimming in a new mindset. I had the feeling that this was the last thing I had to do ever and it was immensely pleasurable. No stress, no other obligations than to do just that. Feeling the dirt, eating some dirt, seeing the dirt was also incredibly powerful and beautiful. Full of light. When I lied in there, I felt held.
THE FOOD. I ate one chicken heart and one drumstick. The learnings were incredible. It is rare that eating gives me strength directly but there, the experience went to its purest form. I ate and my thoughts changed completely and I started to see that my being just wanted to die. This is so paradoxical, but I believe that it is a universal experience, with more or less intensity. Would you agree on that...?
Of course, there would be way more to say...

Margaret Dragu (artist): Amazing stuff that went on this week… What a festival! Amazing circle for the end of last night. All my love and deepest respect to you three [curators] “ . And to ARTIFACTS: “I didn't have a chance to say how much I loved your performance… Gentle awesome presences (ie. 2 jazz musicians easy & true with each other on the bandstand) and like a beautiful Czek Fiflm with umbrellas, white sheets, aprons, sunglasses and lamps. Could have gone on for much longer for me.”

Chrissy Poitras (artist): Having the opportunity to work with this group of individuals, in a space like the Davenport Perth Neighbourhood Community & Health Center, was a rewarding experience as it allowed me, along with the other performers, the ability to share and expand on the ideas behind Food=Need with a range of individuals. The group of people at the DPNCHC were welcoming and contributed more to this event then I could have imagined.

Students (UTSC):
"I loved Margaret’s video. It really helped me with our mask/personae performance for class." -Charlotte Balant
"That was so cool!" - Jasmine Bowen
"I enjoyed Margaret's workshop."- Ilana Fernandes

Cath Campbell (facilitator & community artist): I was very happy to be a part of the project.  I met old friends and made some new friends.  I really enjoyed the conversations and I liked doing the table...the cards I hadn't done in awhile and it was good to make a new connection with them...and to share...
some themes/images I gathered were: journey
Changing Rhythms
a place to rest and talk...where real collaboration can begin...without strict agendas and everyone feels like they can be safe... to be who they are...
I was very inspired so thank you...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Oct Exhibition: I Belong, You Belong, We Belong

I Belong, You Belong, We Belong: Challenging Intersectionality in Modern Society (Oct, 1 - 26, 2012) is a drawing- and painting-based exhibition that investigates and challenges the “isms” present in modern society. Under the direction of Ashley Taylor and Mallory Diaczun, both artists and educators, select students in grades 6-8 from Earnscliffe Senior Public School have reflected and responded to the social injustice they have seen or experienced related to gender, sexual orientation, race, faith, ability, age, and class. By examining the interconnectedness of their own identities, the students hope to confront the viewer and suggest ways in which to create and maintain more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive environments.

CWSE Hallway Gallery, Oct, 1 - 26, 2012
252 Bloor Street West, 2nd Floor
Opening: Oct 1st 5.30-7pm.
Screenings begin at 6pm.

Friday, September 7, 2012

WIAprojects & Toronto Women’s Bookstore present: Border Crossings: An “Erotic” Affair?

The book Border Crossings: An “Erotic” Affair?   provides access to some of most challenging cultural work being done by women artists & writers. The title alludes to the complexity of “diaspora” as a gendered-cultured-raced space. 

Come for yummy treats and espresso at the  TWB CafĂ© and Patio. Buy your signed copy of Border Crossings: An “Erotic” Affair?  (only $10!), hear a short reading by Dina Georgis, and view an artist presentation by Meral Pasha. It’s a “launch” party! All proceeds support the Toronto Women’s Bookstore.

When? Oct 2nd, 6.30 - 8pm, 2012
Where? Toronto Women’s Bookstore
73 Harbord Street, Toronto
tel: 416-922-8744
email:                        FREE & Wheelchair Accessible

Friday, August 31, 2012

50 Shades of Grey debate....some sanity in a feminist perspective

“These books tell women that they want not only to be objectified, their bodies ravaged by objects and men for whom they will attach themselves to the rack to please, but also that they want to be dominated—in the bedroom and outside of it. It’s pornography in its purest form, and pornography thrives because men demand it. In this case, both Meyer and James are helping to the contribution of it, enabling the industry and patriarchy, and indoctrinating the idea that women want to be subjugated for the sake of love. One mom said to me, “This book has saved my marriage,” which proves that women now must bring handcuffs to the bedroom and assume the submissive and servile position in bed to keep the romance alive in their marriage. These books are not helping us form our own identities as women, or helping us locate our own sexual desires exclusive to what pleases men in bed…. Meyer and James have successfully “turned” the mainstream female reader into the housewife who can only save her marriage by putting on a school uniform while being handcuffed to a rack. There is nothing feminist in this. There is nothing empowering or progressive about these women writers, who reinforce stereotypical ideals of womanhood, and it is sad that we [not me!] are buying into it."
Posted by Pam Patterson

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

CALL FOR INTERNS WIAprojects 2012-2013

WIAprojects housed at the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education at OISE, University of Toronto provides individualized arts internships* for women to gain work experience for future employment and post-secondary school admission. Interns are paired with a mentor and assigned a project. Each intern can participate as much or as little as she wishes in curation, production, design, publications, marketing, publicity, grant writing and/or publications. Advanced participants may devise a program or project of their own in consultation with WIAprojects’ Director. Interns come to us from art history, women’s studies, arts management programs and also apply as artists, educators and academics.
We still have sites available for 2012-13 for educational & programming interns. If you are applying to the BEd or Masters in Teaching programs come and get valuable teaching experience. We have one slot in elementary (learning through the arts) and two in secondary (design & visual art) education. 
For more information contact: Pam Patterson, Director, WIAprojects at
There is a $100 administrative fee per academic year for new interns.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What's Wrong with Feminism? by WIAprojects Associate Director, Mary Wight

On March of 2012, I was at the Women's Centre at OISE.  Jamie and I got into a conversation about the difficulties she faced in getting women to write articles about being a feminist in the ongoing Anthology of "Why I Became A Feminist?"   We spoke further about the apparent spilt in the movement.  I promised Jamie I would talk to some women I know about the subject, including my oldest daughter.  Everyone I approached said no, they did not want to write about feminism or had no interest in what it has become or stands for now.   I was surprised at their response and had to reflect on what was wrong with Feminism?

To answer this question, I thought back on two events.  The first was on November 3, 2011,  when I went to the Scarborough Campus of the University of Toronto to listen to a WIAprojects talk about "South Asians in the Arts: Diaspora, Alliances and Collaborations Across Communities".  What I learned and heard from that talk resonated with Dr. Cynthia Dillard's lecture on "Spirituality in Education" I had attended the day before at OISE.  The South Asian women are concerned that even though they are born or raised in Canada from a young age and contributing to its society, they, like Kemetic women and other women who are non-white, must fight for equality and feel that they do not belong.  Dr. Dillard stressed that we needed to incorporate the whole of us - mind, body and spirit - to properly support others in their educational goals.  She also mentioned that sometimes we use only our heads in education and become fragmented about who or what we are.  She went on to mention the inequality of the education system revealed at times in the behaviour of the so-called ruling culture:  "Be us but don't become us".  In other words, do what we say and do but don't expect to be treated like us.

As a woman of Kemetic descent, a mother of four children, artist and activist, especially for human rights, I have had the opportunity to participate in and observe the Women's Movement (Feminism if you prefer) in action.  After attending these two events, I can now connect some of the challenges I have had to this complicated ideologyself.  The women of started with working class white women, yet it was the upper and middle class white women who spoke for them.  Do the middle and upper class women stive in the arts, we will belong.  Sitting quietly, I ask myself, "Do I belong? Where? And where do I not belong? And why?”

The Feminist or Women's Movement was started by working class women in France during the 17th century -- at the height of slavery.  Over the years, the Movement spread across Europe and eventually was transported to North and South America by the women who brought the ideology with them.  From its conception and during its momentum between the 17th to early 20th centuries, the Movement only focused on equality for white women.  Up until 1922 in North America, even a white woman was not considered a person.  I remember being at an event where a white woman said that she was speaking for the black women from Somalia who, she claimed, had no voice!  Until now I didn't understand why she was speaking for other women who were not even at this event?  I didn't get it because I always spoke for myself.  The Movement started with working class white women, yet it was the upper and middle class white women who spoke for them.  Do the middle and upper class women still control the Movement?  What is wrong with Feminism?

Feminism or the Women's Movement, when it became institutionalized, only allowed other non-white women in, who were thought to have 'something' to bring to the table.  This a so-called educated elitist ideology still plays a negative role within the Movement.  The fear of these elitist women to lose their false notion of power has left other women more vulnerable and disillusioned with the Movement.  Women of colour, working class women, women with disabilities, poor women are asking why they are still left out even though they are educated and have played the game as requested of them?  What is wrong with Feminism?

This past school year at the Centre for Women’s Studies there have been a lot of programs on racism, sexism and gender equality. This has sparked my thinking about this issue.  At the CWSE where I act as an Associate Director for a program WIAprojects, and where the International Women’s Human Rights institute engages and mentors women globally, we place diversity and equal discussion and representation as essential to our agenda. We have raised some interesting issues and dealt with some challenging questions. But this is not always the case. The Women's Movement or the Feminist Movement or Feminism has in some instances become disconnected from “women” due to the motives of those in charge.  When promoting an agenda, organisers can jump into the latest fads or cultural issues without true interest (heart), or might promote subjects in a warped and imbalanced manner for funding - losing the spirit of the Movement.  This has left the true purpose for the Movement's existence fragmented; and may induce infighting amongst the women involved; as well as, a dislike or disinterest in the Movement among the general female population it was created to support.   What is wrong with Feminism?

Has the Movement lost its soul?  Its mental and emotional aspects cannot possibly operate well without a connection to the spiritual (the heart).  The Movement will survive and become stronger when it is truly realized that the Movement is not an intellectual or power game where one plays with ideas of gender, sexuality, class race etc..  Rather the Movement is about the wellbeing and inclusion of all women whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, straight or gay, white or not.

I would like to end with this thought by Sojourner Truth (also known as Isabella Baumfree) who was born a slave in 1797.  She asked a question that still resonates with most non-white women in the 21st century with regards to the Women's or Feminist Movement.  "Aint I A Woman?!"

Mary Wright presented a version of this writing for April 2012’s CWSE end–of-year event.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2012 UTSC Grads with WIAprojects' Mentors and Advisors

Well, what a gorgeous day for graduation! Congratulations to WIAprojects interns from UTSC in Visual & Performing Arts and Women's Studies: Charlene Smith, Jay Smith, Pailagi Pandya & Nicole Cajucum (in picture with Pam Patterson, Trisha Lamie, Connie Guberman & Erin Webster)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What Interns are saying about 2011-12....

          Charlene Smith, Curatorial/Production Intern:
For many years, I have had an increasing passion for the arts in all its forms. Personally, dance has been my main point of focus, however, visual arts has held a close place in my heart. After participating in Prof. Patterson's Women in the Arts course at the University of Toronto, she was able to spark a great interest in visual arts for myself, leading me to become an intern for the non-for-profit WIA projects. Though school remained time consuming and lead me into a few financial difficulties, the time that I was able to spend taught me a great deal.Overall, I have come to a deeper level of understanding towards the difficulty of being a female artist and the importance of creating a network of allies to build a stronger foundation for future prospects. Structuring a community is essential to success of any artist and women are in need of all the help we can get.

Emily Kakouris, Curatorial Intern, 
For the 2011-2012 school year I had the opportunity to participate as an Assistant Curator in the series "Border Crossings: An Erotic Affair?”  with WIAprojects and the Jackman Humanities Institute. I worked specifically with Pam Patterson and Sylvat Aziz to prepare and hang an exhibition in the gallery space located inside the OISE building. As an Art History student (who is pursuing graduate studies in Fall, 2012) participation in this project benefited me in numerous ways: Sylvat's exhibition, "Sisyphus & Other Personal Matters" provided an opportunity to assist in the creation of an exhibition and offered an helpful environment for experiential learning. Also, as an art historian who is not used to working with Contemporary art, there was a learning curve. Working with this stream of art fueled many questions about the themes and messages involved in the exhibition; I felt the process was similar to learning a new language. Once I had an understanding of the basics, it all came together when participating in the round table discussion and piecing together the exhibition essay. I will be able to reflect upon my participation and use what I learned towards my future studies in graduate school.

Kayla Barbeau, OCAD University, Educational Intern
Interning with WIAprojects has opened up many doors for me and has created a community of like-minded people with like-minded goals. Throughout my final year of completing my BFA at OCAD University, WIAprojects has inspired me to push myself and delve into the educational field of visual arts. Becoming familiar with this field has been both a challenging and rewarding experience. Meeting the active participants of WIAprojects at exhibitions has allowed me to put my goals in a solidified community and create valuable exchanges of information and experiences… As of the fall I will be teaching two courses … one I created, and another that will be adapted from a preexisting course. This connection would not have been possible without participating in the WIA internship program.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

This Body is My Body.... Celebrating Tropes and Transitions

On April 26 from 5.30-7.30pm, WIAprojects is having a celebration! -  An art and performance event and potluck at the CWSE, OISE, 252 Bloor Street West 2nd floor, Room 2-227.

Barbara Center


Vida Beyer

Spring sometimes stands as a trope or metaphor for new beginnings. It can mark an emerging confidence, faith or sexuality, perhaps a shift into our crone years or, for some, a transition from university study into work life.  CWSE wraps up an exciting year of research activity, a highly successful Wellness Series and begins registering once again for the Women's Human Rights Education Institute (WHRI). At WIAprojects, a group of wonderful interns “graduate” as curators, educators, writers and overall great cultural producers as we end the busiest academic year-to-date presenting exhibitions, panels, conversations and publications sponsored by Cultural Pluralism and the Arts and the Jackman Humanities Institute Program for the Arts  at three different university sites.  In all of these activities, we reaffirm the personal as political, our creative potential, and our engagement with women in community(ies).

Come and see 60-60-60: A Performance Action with ARTIFACTs (Leena Raudvee & Pam Patterson); Barbara Center's Letters, a video about coming out later in life as a Jewish lesbian, previously screened at the Inside Out Festival (2010) & the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (2011); a unique art installation by artist Vida Beyer;  the CWSE Gallery exhibition by Meral Pasha... and hear Mary Wright read from her What's Wrong with Feminism?! Celebrate the work of our interns, eat a shared meal, and have great conversations!

Roundtable: Locations/Dislocations – Border Crossings: An Erotic Affair?

Artists Sylvat Aziz, Meral Pasha (Ontario) live cross border from Mesma Belsare (Boston). In complex ways, they interweave gender, sexuality and artistic practice as they confront how dislocation, and their longing for relocation, is mapped on their bodies: for Belsare it is the dynamics of gender in dance, for Aziz a cultural critique, and for Pasha the complexities around gender displacement, and cultural loss. The series Border Crossings: An “Erotic” Affair? brought these artists as well as academics, writers, and curators together this past academic year in conversation at the St. George and Scarborough campuses of the University of Toronto. This conversation will be extended and shared as a Roundtable with presentations by Dina Georgis, Pailagi Pandya, Emily Kakouris and Sevan Injejikian and moderated by Pam Patterson; the university community and general public are invited to join the discussion.

April 10th at 12 noon -1.30pm in Room 2-225 at the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education, OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, 2nd floor (St George and Bloor).

Free and all are welcome
Tea and snack is provided. You are welcome to bring your lunch.
For information: CWSE: 416-978-2080 or

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An Eksperimenta! Moment

Joanna Black & Miriam Cooley at CWSE

by Hilda Hashimoto

On January 18, 2012, WIA Projects held a seminar on curatorial collaboration in which curators and art educators Miriam Cooley and Joanna Black discussed their role as Canadian curators in the international exhibition Eksperimenta! held in Estonia, 2011. Contrary to the myth that an artist works alone and, creatively in isolation, fashions an individualistic work of art untainted by others and belongs to him or her alone, the execution and presentation of art needs more than just the artist. Curators and other collaborators, specific to an exhibition, are responsible for developing and presenting the display; providing information on the art and artists; and developing and shaping the concepts the curator, artist, and institution wish to convey. Estonia was chosen as the location for Eksperimenta! which is quite a distance to transport art and artists. The distance alone caused a strain due to the inadequate Canadian funding for this art project. Miriam Cooley and Joanna Black acknowledged this fact and together with creativity and innovation sought  a solution - to exhibit mainly digital Canadian art. For those who did not attend this seminar, Ekperimenta! is the first international exhibition that welcomed art from high school students all over the world. The theme was space. The innovated choice of Miriam Cooley and Joanna Black to choose new media works served to strengthen Canada's identity on the international art stage. Not only was Canada the only North American country to participate in this event, Canada was also the only country who chose to use digital art as their medium for the delivery of the aesthetics and concepts surrounding space. The use of digital art made viewers aware of how the arts are critical to education in general. Students learn about technology and even acquire more complex understanding of international relations and national institutions. This medium also reflected how the idea of space has changed with technology - objects, people, ideas are now easily portable, saved on a small CD, USB, or DVD. The Canadian Exposition at Eksperiment! was the result of effort made by curators, teachers, and student artists. The result reinforced Canada's identity in the international art world as visionary, imaginative, and inspiring.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Meral Pasha: Liminal Spaces: Inside the Folds of a Map

Guest Curator: Sevan Injejikian 
Assistant Curator: Vida Beyer
CWSE Hallway Gallery
OISE/UT 252 Bloor Street West, 2nd floor hallway
Opening: April 2nd, 5.30-7pm
Artist Remarks: 6pm
Exhibit runs until April 27th.
 Meral Pasha’s photographic works explore complex notions of racial, cultural and gender identity. Pasha utilizes digital photography and its infinitely manipulable electronic bit to address the tenuous relationship between identity and place and to posit a multi-locational sense of self. Her portraits and landscapes plumb fragments of personal narrative and unhinge stereotypical representations of South-Asian women and the migrant experience which have become a part of the Western cultural imaginary. 
A recent graduate of OCAD University, Meral Pasha is an emerging Canadian artist whose research into feminist, queer, and post-colonial issues is an ongoing attempt to posit herself in the various stories that surround and inform her. She was raised Muslim in post-colonial Pakistan, received an English-based education, and was already wedged firmly between cultures when she arrived in Canada as a young immigrant. Her art practice has included video, performance, sculpture, photography, installation and poetry. She recognizes herself as colonized, racialised, gendered and other-ed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sylvat Aziz : Sisyphus & Other Personal Matters

CWSE, WIAprojects & The Jackman Humanities Institute present:
An Exhibition: Sylvat Aziz : Sisyphus & Other Personal Matters
Curators: Pam Patterson & Emily Kakouris
CWSE Gallery, OISE
252 Bloor Street West, 2nd floor hallway
Opening: March 5th 5.30-7pm 
Artist Comments: 6pm
Exhibit runs until March 30th.
The work engages with ‘social justice’ questions on how research is conducted in the making of art.  This is especially relevant when digital documenting is employed, which can manipulate information seamlessly and infinitely.  The questions rest primarily on the subaltern dynamics that come into play when roles shift and the subject/object and the ‘researcher’ replace participant/observer research models.   The work questions the privileging that assumes the researcher has the right to display without responsibly acquiring permission.  
Sylvat Aziz holds Masters degrees in literature and in art. Her studies began in Lahore, Pakistan then on to Pratt Institute, New York, and Concordia University, Montreal. She has exhibited sculpture and painting at Venice; Istanbul; Bradford, England; New Delhi and Lahore, as well as many major public and university galleries in Canada. Her research is focused on problems of representation and the politics of space in early Islamic art and architecture and the influences, conflicts and compromises addressed therein. She currently teaches at Queen's University, Department of Art, Kingston, Ontario.

Event is free and all are welcome!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS - THE POSTCARD PROJECT: Bringing Canadian artwork into public schools

The Postcard Project is a research initiative to connect young students in a suburban middle school with contemporary, Canadian artists. The project invites all emerging and established professionals from across the country to participate in a simple postcard exchange. It will begin as each student chooses an artist/artwork they like from received images and creates a postcard in response. The student's artwork postcard is made and mailed and then the Canadian artist is invited to send a postcard back in response.

Through this project, I intend to facilitate cooperative learning and collaboration through an authentic dialogue between young and practicing artists. The Postcard Project will bring Canadian artwork into the public school realm, and help educate youth on different styles, media, and themes that artists are exploring countrywide.

How to Participate as a Practicing Artist: Send ONE image of your work, along with your name, full mailing address, and a short biography of 100 words to Mallory Diaczun at by February 13th. Postcards will be mailed to each artist by the beginning of April. Your response postcard must be 4x6” and postmarked by May 7th, 2012.
All content must be elementary school age appropriate.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Presentation and Collage Making: The Silent Book: Crafting Memories from a Life with Cancer – Eva C. Karpinski & Pam Patterson

Date: Feb 8th, 2012, 12-1.30pm 
Location: CWSE, OISE/UT, 252 Bloor Street West, Rm 2-227
Free and all are welcome.

The Silent Book: Crafting Memories from a Life with Cancer is a visual and textual collaborative autobiography project that addresses several complex and perplexing questions pertaining to living in the postcancer body. Women’s experiences of cancer cut across so many levels of subjective and objective reality that they can only be articulated in a fragmentary manner, through a bricolage of discontinuous narratives and mixed images.  For this session, Patterson & Karpinski will discuss both personal cancer experiences and their associated politics. We invite participants to join us in making collages from found printed text and images. Readings may include: cancer journals; emails from friends and doctors; quotations from famous cancer survivors; citations from the popular scientific and medical lore on cancer; and statistical data. The event will engage multiple, and perhaps contradictory, discourses that construct the intimate and public dimensions of women’s encounters with cancer. We will create a visual archive of personal memories that speak of our bodily experiences, medicalization, pain, and empowerment, as well as our spiritual and intellectual transformations and activism.
Pam Patterson’s (PhD) research, performance and teaching have focused on culture, disability and women and gender studies. She is Associate Scholar , CWSE/OISE and Director, WIA projects and teaches at University of Toronto and OCAD University. As a performance and visual artist she has exhibited and performed internationally.
Eva C. Karpinski (PhD) teaches in the School of Women's Studies at York University. She co-edited a special issue of Canadian Woman Studies on Women and Cancer. Her book Borrowed Tongues: Life Writing, Migration, and Translation is forthcoming in June 2012.