On Monday, July 24th Monday Art Group were very pleased to have an artists visit from Helene Vosters and her Stitch-by-Stitch: A TRC Sewing Circle & Reading Group project of sewing the Action Items from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools, onto small Canadian flags. Many of us sat around a table and worked together talking about the project, our everyday experiences with Indigenous struggles, institutionalization and the issue of reconciliation with Indigenous nations. At one point a couple of art group members read aloud from “Final Report: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.” It was really wonderful to have a visiting artist and people expressed to Helene that she would be welcome back again – she has a lot of sewing to do and MAG is eager to help!
Rehab Nazzal‘s is a community engaged project of “Cross Stitching Solidarity” using Palestinian embroidery techniques to bring people together at the gallery to make something that is larger then the sum of its parts. Francis and Nazzal, although using disparate visual strategies, both propose a kind of transnational solidarity that implicates, resists, and creates new possibilities for Mikinaakominis/Canada.
Members of MAG worked on some of the Palestinian cross-stitch patterns and then we went down to the gallery to add them in to the piece which is filling up beautifully. It was really great for us to learn some new cross-stitching skills while at the same time show our solidarity, care and deep concern for those being made homeless in Palestine. An honor to be part of this work.
On July 1st, members of RWC joined with Idle No More Toronto and Unsettling Canada 150 Sewing Circle & Picnic to protest the celebration of colonial violence, Indigenous genocide, white supremacy and land theft.
STITCH-BY-STITCH: AN UNSETTLING CANADA DAY/CANADA 150 SEWING CIRCLE, READING GROUP & PICNIC, an action In solidarity with UNsettling CANADA 150 National Day of Action by Idle No More and Defenders of the Land.
Stitch-by-Stitch invites participants to embroider sections of the TRC Report’s 94 Calls to Action onto Canadian flags, to read aloud from the TRC’s 388-page summary report and from Arthur Manuel’s “Unsettling Canada: a National Wake-up Call.”
Stitch-by-Stitch is a work in progress with 19 of the project’s 58 (33 calls) flags complete and an addition 12 or so in various stages of completion. Stitch-by-Stitch’s unfinished status is a reminder that as a praxis of redress, reconciliation is an ongoing process that requires collective and sustained labour. Stitch-by-Stitch will be a porous event. Participants are welcome to come and go, embroider, witness, and share reflections as they wish.
We are hoping to bring stitch-by-stitch to Monday Art Group for a session!
Red Wagon Collective/Monday Art Group
Bloor/Gladstone Library Installation, May 1-30th, 2017.
The Vibrant Inside: places of abandonment in the gentrifying city
The Red Wagon Collective (RWC) is a loose knit group of women identified folks who do cultural work around the effects of poverty and homelessness in the Junction. The main project of the RWC is the Monday Art Group (MAG). Women from the Junction, including those who are living at a local shelter for women, gather every week as neighbours to make art. MAG is a space where we can work on our own projects, make gifts or practical items, mend our clothes, share and produce knowledge, develop collective projects for public display, and spend time with one another in community.
RWC understands community as an uneasy space of social difference – a space necessary for survival and for activism. With MAG the RWC seeks to push the boundaries of neighbourliness, social arts, dialogue, and resistance to a system that creates conditions of exclusion and trauma. We also proclaim the vital creativity of low-income life in the gentrifying city of Toronto. Our work includes: multi-media installation, video, photographic works, poetry performance, and monograph publication.
The exhibit presented at the Bloor Gladstone Library is comprised of works that remain in the MAG space after women have passed through, alongside of specific pieces that were made for display. RWC has collected and re-worked abandoned art pieces in various ways as a document of our time together sharing a nourishing, healing and often critical creativity. These pieces represent the aesthetic diversity of women who experience the shelter system as either as residents or neighbours. They also represent the conditions in which we create: under stress of social abandonment and without regular funding.
Beautiful dream catcher by Rayla
On February 14th, 2017 RWC/MAG made a banner and brought it down to the Strawberry Ceremony for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls (boys, men and trans people). It is always a very moving and sad ceremony. But good to be able to show up and give support and acknowledgement to the dire impacts of colonialism on Indigenous communities.
Red Wagon Collective/Monday Art Group members joined with OCAP in the Sleepover at John Tory’s to protest the 18 million $$$ that the city is supposed to put into affordable housing and more shelter space, but instead is being put into some unused fund! A small group of us brought our Tent Project installation work with us, but due to police overdoing their jobs, we weren’t able to put it up. Instead we lay the quilt on the ground and worked on some knitting and crochet. Before long we were joined by some folks who wanted to get in on the yarn action.
It was a cold, cold night. But the vibes were so great at the sleepover that it made the cold endurable. OCAP served amazing food and there was music, singing and drumming and great speeches!
We also had our homelessness flag displayed, it always gets a lot of attention. We still talk about the politically dubious image of the flag – we think about turning it upside down as a way to symbolically decolonize it. We’ve had mixed views on this.
RWC/MAG were very happy to be part of this action.
Members of the RWC joined the Water Is Life protest against Trumps reversal of Obama’s decision to the halt the construction of DAPL on Standing Rock Sioux territory. Our role in the demo was in support of test#:collective’s projection project. It was an honor to be in the presence of amazing women organizers, drummers and singers, dancers and speakers who came to share their knowledge of the struggle at Standing Rock.
Members of Monday Art Group proudly participated in this OCAP video. We will also be producing a longer video from the footage that was shot that did not make it into this film.
Everyone’s Invited to the Gala Screening & Premiere of OCAP’s new short film
Bursting at the Seams
Thursday, November 10 | Mayor John Tory’s Condo | 6:30pm
[Bedford & Bloor, Outside St. George Subway Station]
Food will be served before the screening
In collaboration with a few key allies, OCAP has made a short film on conditions of brutal overcrowding within Toronto’s homeless shelter system. We are going to show it outside the building where Mayor John Tory lives in somewhat better circumstances.
This week we were tired and hot. Some of us were hungry and broke too. In all our pain we got to talking about dreams, dreams of ourselves, of others. Dreams for our future and our present. Our desires of the every day, and the desires that only surface in our …. dreams. This is our collective group poem.
I dream of being with her one day
Too shy to tell her
But I can still pause at the thought
I live a life full of shattered dreams
all I see is mysery and stress
so I keep my self high just to
avoid myself from all this mess
you are my dreams
you are my love
you were the sunshine of my life
losing you was a nightmare
and now I only see you in my dreams
you took it all, twice, no less! Casting me adrift.
Giving up on what my desires want for me.
It’s not allowed.
I had a dream of you,
brown skin and dark hair.
Now I can’t look at you
because I prefer you in my dream.
Have a nice day.
Can’t we all get along?