Date: April 18 – September 2014
Partner: Toronto Pearson International Airport
Venue: Malton Gallery in Terminal 1 – map
Project Members: Ashley Creed, Ellen Flood, Rebecca Hicks, and Brian Joe
Canadian comic artists come from diverse backgrounds and have received international acclaim for a range of works as unique and varied as their creators. This exhibition showcases the breadth and diversity of comic arts within Canada by focusing on the artistic skills, creative processes, and tools of the trade involved in its production. The exhibition features canonical and contemporary Canadian artwork, from newspaper comics and graphic novels to zines and webcomics.
The Malton Gallery is located in the Toronto Pearson International Airport, but before airport security and thus is open to the general public. As a result, the exhibition has been designed to suit the diverse visitorship which the airport attracts. The exhibition should be appealing to visitors of a variety of ages and backgrounds.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority’s Art & Exhibitions Program and developed in partnership with TCAF (the Toronto Comic Arts Festival).
Our involvement in the exhibition started in September 2013, when we met with Lee Petrie (Curator for the GTAA) and the organizers of TCAF. Having assumed curatorial control of the project, we spent the first four months researching Canadian comics and refining our curatorial thesis. In January 2014, we compiled a list of artists and works for display. Once Lee and TCAF approved our selection, we contacted and developed working relationships with participating artists. The artwork was acquired between March and April and installation occurred on April 16th. The exhibition opened on April 18th and will run until September 2014.
The exhibition explores the diversity of Canadian comics and the processes used by artists through a variety of displays. The exhibition contains display cases devoted to exploring traditional comics, webcomics, self-published zines and even other forms of sequential art and illustration. In another part of the gallery, a photo-recreation of Seth’s studio provides visitors with a glimpse into the working environment of artists. Another display exhibits the work of five featured artists alongside their biographies and personal statements about their work. These artists include Lynn Johnston, Katie Shanahan, Jeff Lemire, Michael DeForge and Isabelle Arsenault. All of these individuals are established Canadian Artists who work in their own styles. The centerpiece of this exhibition is a commissioned wall banner designed by artist Dakota McFadzean. His process and personal statements will be displayed alongside the finished artwork to give more context to the notion of artistic process in comic art.
Our exhibition was primarily promoted through TCAF. The exhibition also contains information on and promotion for the 2014 TCAF Festival (which this year takes place May 10-11). TCAF staff may also use the Malton Gallery as a meeting place for artists flying in for the Festival in May.
After exploring our exhibition, visitors should gain an increased understanding of Canadian comics. They should be able to identify the similarities and differences between traditional, digital and zine comics. They will also be able to develop an appreciation for Canadian Comics and comic artists through exploring their work, processes and work environment.
We would like to thank Lee Petrie at the Pearson Airport for being our project manager and an excellent mentor. We would also like to extend our thanks to the members of TCAF who provided guidance and valuable insight into the world of comics. We would also like to thank professor Matthew Brower and our classmates for providing feedback and support through this project. Finally, we would like to thank the dozens of artists who worked with us and allowed us to display their artwork. Without them, we would not have an exhibition.