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.