HORIZON: The Continued Relevance of Artist-Run Centres Today
Tue Jul 20 2021
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Clayton Windatt, Rihkee Strapp, Teajai Travis, and Bruce Eves
The Power Plant co-presents this panel discussion with Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference. The panel, which will explore the raison d'etre of artist-run centres, what they do, and how artists can get involved, will be moderated by Clayton Windatt, Director of ARCA, with panelists Rihkee Strapp, Executive Director of White Water Gallery, Teajai Travis, Executive Director of Artcite Inc. and Bruce Eves, former assistant-programming director at the Centre for Experimental Art and Communication (CEAC).
This program is part of a larger ad hoc collective, organized by The Power Plant, to secure a Toronto Arts Council grant from the Open Door funding stream to research the needs of artists in the Greater Toronto Area, and how contemporary art/film nonprofits may address some of those needs.
Artist-Run Culture forms around communities when artists support each other in the creation, production or promotion of each other’s work. Over many decades Artist-Run Centres have defined and redefined their role in society from being alternative art galleries as the counterpart to public museums to producing collective arts actions without dedicated space. Each ARC pursues collective arts action differently but society's understanding of ARCs comes from viewing all these actions together. Where have we been? Where are we going? How are we reflecting on our past while working towards redefined collective actions?
The program will end with questions from the audience moderated by Joséphine Denis, The Power Plant's TD Curator of Education and Outreach.
Clayton Windatt is a Métis non–binary multi-artist living and working between Sturgeon Falls and Toronto, Ontario. Clayton holds a BA in Fine Art from Nipissing University and received Graphic Design certification from Canadore College. With an extensive history working in Artist-Run Culture and Community Arts, and through their own activism, Clayton works towards healthier relationships for national and global Indigenous artists and communities. The former Executive Director of the Indigenous Curatorial Collection, Clayton maintains contracts with several colleges and universities, arts magazines, arts councils, arts organizations, and other organizations as a critical writer, columnist and consultant in addition to pursuing their independent arts practice. Clayton is an active filmmaker and director with works featured in festivals such as ImagineNative and the Toronto International Film Festival and recent commissions by the National Film Board of Canada. Clayton works in/with community, design, communications, curation, performance, theatre, technology, and consulting, and is a very active writer, filmmaker and visual-media artist and was recently appointed to the National Gallery of Canada’s Board of Trustees.
Rihkee Strapp: Miskogwan Gegek Ndishnikaaz. Kwinkwa'aake ndoodem. Wanamani Saa'ikanink ndoonji. Nipissing ndishitaa. Rihkee Strapp is an Ayakwew Red River Metis multi-disciplinary artist raised in Northern Ontario by nohkum’s dial-up internet and its dark vistas. Focusing on community and media art, their highly collaborative work re-appropriates pop-culture, myth and nostalgia, playing with concepts of time and technology often using humour and character to animate their ideas.
Their grandmother’s collection of stories and prints by the pioneering Woodland artists of the Triple-Cooperative, a silk screen cooperative that operated during the 70s, were their first introduction to thinking about how systems and communities create the conditions to enable artists like Norval Morrisseau to succeed. Rihkee is an alumni of the Studio [Y] systems leadership fellowship at the MaRS Discovery District, and former program manager for the Ontario Trillium Foundation, focused on supporting grass-roots projects led for and by Black and Indigenous communities. They are a co-founder of the Northern Indigenous Artist Alliance. As the new Executive Director of the White Water Gallery, an artist-run centre focused on risk, innovation, and accessibility, Rihkee plans to push colonial conceptions of contemporary art in the Nipissing region.
Teejai Travis is an Afro-Indigenous descendant of formerly enslaved peoples. He comes from a strong family of self-emancipated survivors who emigrated into so-called Canada in 1853, after fleeing the so-called United States, following the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act. Prior to his Ancestors, leaving their home in Mercer County, where they founded one of the first black settlements in Pennsylvania, they were active in the Afro liberation movement known today as The Underground Railroad.
As an artist, Teajai works in the spirit of the Ancestor, guided by the infinite light of their legacy. Using Spoken Word and abstract rhythmic sound art, Teajai explores existence, consciousness and humanity as a bubbling manifestation of sensations. He meditates on questions of reality and illusion and muses on the presence of naturally occurring patterns found in the make up of the universe. He mindfully incorporates these themes into his work.
Teajai Travis is an art educator with Arts Can Teach, the Founder and Director of The Bloomfield House, former chair of The Windsor Youth Centre, member at large with The Friends of the Court and Literary Arts Windsor and he is currently installed at the Executive Director of Artcite Inc.
He often describes his creative style as “lyrical hood spit” a reflection of his humble upbringing in one of Waawiiyaatanong's public communities. In the anthology By the River, published by Urban Farmhouse Press, he continues to describe his style as “channeling the desperate melodies of a pawn shop saxophone, praying abstract jazz to the whispers of a misunderstood Afro-Indigenous Renaissance. Inspired by the works of Nikki Giovanni, Dick Gregory, James Baldwin, Afua Cooper and Sal Williams, Teajai uses a poetic language to share the complexities of struggle and triumph from his unique lens.
Bruce Eves currently involves himself with conceptually-driven photo-based works. In the past his practice encompassed performance and curation projects in North American and across Eastern and Western Europe. He was assistant-programming director at the Centre for Experimental Art and Communication (CEAC) in the late 1970s; and throughout the 1980s was the co-founder and chief archivist of the International Gay History Archive (now housed in the Rare Book and Manuscript division of the New York Public Library). In 2018 Eves was the recipient of the Governor-General’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Visual and Media Arts and that same year was the subject of Peter Dudar’s feature-length documentary “Bruce Eves in Polari” that premiered at The Power Plant; in 2019 Eves was ranked 26th on the Alt-Power100 list compiled by ArtLyst (UK). He lives and works in Toronto and his website is www.bruceeves.net
In Fall 2018, The Power Plant teamed up with eight other contemporary visual art and film organizations in Toronto for a two-year initiative, called HORIZON, funded with an Open Door grant from the Toronto Arts Council. During the first phase, the nine partner organizations conducted focus groups and town halls to gather information about the needs of emerging and established artists in and around Toronto. Now into the second phase, the organizations are developing and offering programs that address some of the artists’ needs.