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.
Joined Bee Jackson for Saturday Art Group at Evangel Hall. Made a yarn graffiti (or knit bomb) in response to all the development going on downtown and our group conversation about being on waiting lists for RGI (Rent Geared to Income) housing for up to 10 years and counting… I also enjoyed the great creativity going on. Wonderful group today.
Thank-you cards for those who chose to recycle their unused art supplies with RWC – MAG
Thanks to Judith Marsh, Linda Needles and Neila Longman and their art group friends for making this massive contribution of wool and supplies – even a sewing machine – to Monday Art Group. What a great week for us! Since our budget is dwindling such offerings are vital to our group being able to provide materials for our work.
The Red Wagon Collective has started a new sister art group out of a homeless drop-in of downtown Toronto (Bathurst and Queen). We meet in the multi-purpose room, using three sewing machines and closet of recycled supplies.
The Saturday Art Group is for homeless, insecurely/institutionally housed, shelter users, recently incarcerated, low-income people. We believe art to be necessary to our survival and resistance. We choose to make art in a time marked by austerity, as our lives and well-being are and have been under threat. We work on both individual and collective pieces; our work both celebrates our joys and articulates our frustrations. We are frustrated by a lack of affordable housing in the city, the conditions in which we are forced to live, and the alarming number of homeless deaths in Toronto.