The Fourth Session
In the fourth session of our Art & Everyday Life program, which ran in February and March of 2022, over a dozen women were engaged in bi-weekly sessions where they were put in conversation with professional artists and received tours from artists and arts organizations. The program was an immense success and the women enrolled had extremely positive things to say about the program! They learnt together, gained a sense of community, and gained confidence in themselves as artists. They shared personal stories during sessions, laughed and cried together, and expressed their joy and sadness through art. It was beautiful to get to experience this group of women create new meaning in their personal approaches to art, and to bring accessible and culturally-specific arts programming to marginalized women in our community.
This fourth iteration of the program included paper folding workshops with artist Fong Ki Wan, a water-colour session led by The Aga Khan Museum, and a mixed media and collage workshop led by artist Shahzrad Amin.
Participants attended an in-person workshop at Open Studio
Paper Folding Workshop
The paper folding workshops with Toronto-based artist Fong Ki Wan enabled guests to create work that was directly inspired by the works Wan had exhibited at the Riverdale Gallery. Wan’s practice is labour intensive, as everything she cuts, folds, and stiches, is all done by hand. Participants were taught how to combine the technical skills they learnt from Wan to create their very own paper folding home. Together, the women have created a village of paper homes that showcase special dreams, memories, or moments in their lives.
The paper in this program was graciously supplied by The Japanese Paper House in support of Fong Ki Wan’s exhibition Mind Wavesm.
Image: Fong Ki Wan teaching participants during a workshop.
Islamic Watercolour with The Aga Khan
After learning the history of Book Making and an introduction of Islamic Art, participants were provided with custom watercolour sets and stencils to create their very own watercolour painting. It was after being taught these bits of history and basics of water colour techniques that the women dove deep into their unique, complex paintings. Each painting comes from a historic template of tiling, meaning that all of the works created in this program can be tessellated into one large mosaic. You can see the excitement here in the women as they learn from Shirin Divanbeigi and show off their works in progress!
Image: Class shot of the participants creating paintings and sharing them with one another
With the assistance of Iranian-Canadian artist, Shahrzad Amin, the women were walked through three workshops on mixed media and collage! Each participant received a variety of supplies, ranging from acrylic paints and oil pastels, to donated magazines for collage purposes.
Together, the women created a series of work inspired by their personal life experiences and influences. Amin also provided numerous educational tools to all of the women to keep them informed on historic uses of mixed media and collage, along with tools to create their own work at home outside of the program.
Image: A Participant sharing their work in progress of a mixed media artwork
A Sense of Community & Belonging
We are grateful to each of the facilitators who shared their practice, and we are touched by the enthusiasm, creativity, and openness that each participant brought to this session, which shines through in the works. Not only were participants able to gain confidence in their skills as artists through this program, they also gained a sense of community with other workshop participants and a sense of belonging in Canadian arts communities.
What Participants Are Saying…
Providing the materials for each project was very motivating and helpful. Every session was well-organized and informative. I have learned so much about art, and the communication with the organizer and other artists was excellent! Totally loved this experience!
I loved the warm environment. The field trips were so fun and needed in this time of isolation. The teachers were very skilled. I loved the focus on women of colour artists – very life affirming. Loved the opportunities to engage with the Hub and show our work there. Such a supportive and encouraging environment.
It was a great opportunity for artists, it improved their artwork and it was safe and comfortable place to speak.
It was an amazing opportunity for me to learn from many different types of artists and see their artworks, share their experiences and knowledge, moreover to know about this brilliant project [Art and Everyday Life] for newcomers, with great management.
“The topics were comprehensively explored by very knowledgeable instructors. They conveyed their love for their chosen field of expertise in a very engaging manner.”
“I loved how inclusive and informative the program was.”
“Phenomenal program – I’m very grateful for this opportunity!”
“[I] felt welcomed and safe to share [my] experiences.”
“[I liked] the information that was provided, organization, and diversity in education. I especially enjoyed art history, how each artist use[s] it to express their individuality to share their story and all the different artist[s] right here in our city. I enjoyed the group and sharing our work with each other and the new skills I gained.”
“I open[ed] my mind and creativity to new visual arts [such] as photography and college photomontage.”