Date: March 5 – April 3, 2020
Partner: John B. Aird Gallery
Location: John B. Aird Gallery, 906 Queen Street W., Toronto, ON; https://youareherejohnbaird.wordpress.com/
Project Members: Mary Wallace, Joanna Wreakes, Jordan Fee, Lisa Jefferies
Whether lifelong locals, commuters, immigrants, or refugees, we each construct our own internal maps of the city based on the routes we take and the obstacles we overcome in the process. The works in this exhibition explore the navigation of urban space and emotional experience.
“You Are Here” is, on one level, a familiar phrase that helps us navigate the most complex city maps. On another level, it is a reminder to be present: after every physical and emotional space we have occupied, it is only in our current location that we can come to understand our relationship to each other.
The first stages of our project involved creating and marketing our call for submissions based on the above text, as well as a graphic designed by Mary Wallace. We posted our call on Akimbo and sponsored our Facebook and Instagram posts, and by the beginning of February 2020 we had received 119 submissions of 1-3 works per artist. To keep the submissions accessible to as many people as possible, we charged a fee of $25 per submission rather than the Aird’s normal fee of $50. This left us with approximately $2500 in our project bank account (not every artist who submitted paid the fee), which, along with the iSchool’s $2500 allocated to our project, allowed us to cover the cost of our exhibiting fee ($4000) with cash left over for our marketing strategy, honorarium for our juror, and opening reception.
During the next stage, we went through each submission with our juror, Dr. Matthew Brower, until we narrowed our final selection down to 31 pieces by 28 artists. We then contacted each accepted artist to schedule our delivery/drop-off date at the end of February. During these few weeks, we planned our opening reception and aided in designing our invitations for the exhibition. On March 1, the four of us spent the day installing our show at the Aird with Director Carla Garnet and her husband, John.
Our opening reception, which we marketed on social media, took place on March 5 with approximately 250 people attending – including several of the featured artists. The director and board members at the Aird were impressed with the exhibition as well as the vernissage; we also felt that the project was a success.
While we had planned for programming activities including a curatorial walk-through and an artist panel, these were unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the gallery was also forced to close the exhibition early, we decided to update our website with some of the content we had planned to share in-person at the gallery.
Alexa Hinves, Ana Sasic, Bhen Alan, Caitlin Clifford, Carol Lynn Gilchrist, Cheryll-Ann Yelovich, Gerda Wekerle, Henry VanderSpek, Irit Epstein, James Fowler, Julianna Joos, Julius Poncelet Manapul, Lili Xu, Lingxiang Wu, Mariah Hoekstra, Mary Wall, Melissa Patel, Michelle Rawlings, Mike Steinhauer, Natalia Tcherniak, Nina Okens, Olivia Maney, Rachelle Wunderink, Sarah Cowling, SofiL, Susan G Abbott, Tom Ridout, and Žana Kozomora.
We would like to acknowledge everyone who came out to support our opening reception, as well as each and every artist that submitted work to our call. Additionally, we are greatly indebted to Carla Garnet, director of the John B. Aird Gallery, and to all of the other stakeholders in the gallery, from board members to volunteers. A special thanks goes out to our friend Dr. Matthew Brower for acting as the juror for You Are Here. Finally, we would like to thank our Professor, Dr. Agnieszka Chalas, who guided us through the entire process of creating and opening this show.