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
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.
after going on six years of doing Monday Art Group our first collective quilt arises.
onto our quilt we have brought forth snakes that can signify feminist knowledge. powerful, present, slithering through the land. and cats: wise ones that sense the other side, that bring non-human companionship: the inter-species nurturing of soft fur to gliding hand, purring their pleasure.
we conjure a cabin in the woods: sanctuary from everyday disciplines and stresses of life in capitalism. vines consume the house with natures powers. a forest surrounds the house – dappled light and cool air… an ecos of green abundance to our austerity death economy. a dream place for those of us caught in concrete.
we also bring forth the ballerina, a winged fairy dress, a butterfly shy one leg, and a pair of flying squirrels: freedom to move, express, transform, transcend, and be beauty in our own ways.
and then the dodo bird: a trusting bird that knew no fear and became extinct from mans introduction of prey into its habitat. now the myth of a world without predators.
and finally, the feeling of a glittery hive for us bee queens, or window panes of some glam cathedral for the the lost and fabulous, the joy of sparkle and light….
our first quilt …. almost done
thinking about mother’s today. mother’s living in a shelter enduring separation from their children. and all the separations of children and mothers through colonization, war and migration throughout time. mother’s who have raised children and mother’s who have lost their daughters or sons. missing and murdered Indigenous, or shot by police… mother’s who have been killed on streets or who have been imprisoned, abused, exploited, taken for granted, made homeless. thinking about patriarchal society that doesn’t honor women, doesn’t listen to the knowledge of women. put down, undermined, disempowered. thinking about the mother’s that initiate resistance struggles – the inspiring fighters that don’t take shit. the mothers holding society accountable for the harms to the children, to future generations, to the earth. thinking about mothering as what we do to generate community, stitching and mending the social fabric. the labour we pour into our mutual endurance and resistance. to mother, to nurture growth and expression, to encourage and smile at liveliness … aliveness and love. not ideal mothers, just mothers everyday.
(Doll and finger puppet by Kerry)
Monday Art Group, April 11, 2016
I am poor this week
This week I learned there is always
Somebody there to help you
I also learned I have someone who loves, trusts and will support me
To the end of time
I am happy this week
This week it is April and it snowed
Alone in my little cabin
With cabin fever
I walk this week
This week I figured out my mother
She insisted on fighting
And my sister … struggling
I would love to be able to do more
I mused ‘this is not for me’
‘it’s just not my thing’
I am hungry this week
I walk through the park to enjoy the day
I meandered and found lovely colors
And lovely creatures
I think in time
After more work
A lot more work
I will be able to do more special things
This week I met new people
Ladies who love to chat
At a poverty rally
A rally for hope
For neglected and poor
And even sweets and sweet tea to add to all that
I have friends this week
MAG were invited to read poems alongside nancy viva davis halifax at the launch of her new poetry book, Hook. nancy’s work in this book reflects her own herstory of living rough as well as the time spent at MAG, the women encountered and exchanged with while making art, drinking tea, talking laughing…. We were honoured and proud to be there alongside nancy and the many people who showed up to share this space.
The music and food was also amazing. Thanks to everyone who made this a heartfelt space to share work.
Monday Art Group/ Red Wagon Collective
amazing opening of the vibrant inside exhibit.
… I am a part of creation….