Tuesday, December 21, 2010

519 Community Centre Public Artwork video now online!

Thanks to Rafaela Dominici Vidinha for posting the 519 Mosaic video!
You can watch it here:

Jumblies Theatre: Arts for All Essentials

Just spent six days working with Ruth Howard and associate artists at the Jumblies Theatre's Arts For All Essentials intensive. It was a rich experience with plenty of opportunities to reflect, experiment, and learn about many aspects of community engaged artistic practices including arts-based research, ethics and aesthetics, facilitation, and evaluation. I strongly recommend it to artists, cultural producers, and organizations who are working in/with communities. --Anna Camilleri

Find out more about Jumblies here:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

519 Church Street Community Centre Public Artwork

June 2010
27’ long x 5’ high

Flux is a community-engaged public artwork, a project of the 519 Church Street Community Centrer, located in the heart of downtown Toronto. More than 300 community members participated in the vision, design, and build. At eleven community consultations, we brainstormed ideas. Seventy-five sketches and some common themes emerged: a desire to firmly anchor the work in diversity and inclusion, LGBTTQ2S activism and resistance, honouring of community members who have passed, and looking ahead to the future. After a final design was produced by Anna Camilleri and approved by community members, the mosaic studio was opened. We built the mosaic together, piece by piece. Over 2000 volunteer hours were invested in this artwork.

Flux was led by lead-artist Anna Camilleri and co-lead artist Tristan R. Whiston of Red Dress Productions, with community art apprentices Heidi Cho, Rafaela Dominici Vidinha, Tamara Perez Mucino, and placement student Ingrid Vellekoop.

The 519 Community-Engaged Mosaic has been made possible thanks to the Province of Ontario via the Ontario Arts Foundation; the Community One Foundation; and generous donations from Tile City Ltd., Stone Tile International Inc., and community members. Special thanks to Robin Elliot, Tim Leeder, Lisa Reichardt, Lee Delaino, Jo Petite, Skye Louis, Neighbourhood Arts Network, [murmur], the George Brown College Redirection Through Education Program, and the board of directors and staff of the 519 Community Centre.

The 519 is a meeting place and focal point for its diverse downtown communities. Within a supportive environment, it responds to the needs of the local neighbourhood and the broader Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTTQ) communities by supplying resources and opportunities to foster self-determination, civic engagement and community participation. www.the519.org

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Neighbourhood Arts Network

Red Dress Productions is proud to be a member of the Neighbourhood Arts Network!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Working as a Community-Engaged Artist in an Anti-Oppression Framework

by Heidi Cho

Art has always scared me. Just the thought of picking up a paintbrush can induce a panic attack. Where does all this overwhelming pressure to create a unique million-dollar art masterpiece come from? Historically, art has been constructed as a privileged practice belonging to a select class of ‘chosen’ people born with innate artistic talent. Despite my apprehension, I remained drawn to artistic expression and the possibilities that it held for social justice and community mobilization. I went to art school with big expectations but quickly became frustrated navigating through the art world that seemed to favour the work of able-bodied rich white dudes. As a young queer emerging artist of colour, I found myself at a loss to connect with mainstream ideas of what art meant and whom it was really for. I felt alienated from my peers who argued that art was a neutral form of expression, detached from power and politics. How could art be separate from politics when it seemed that only the privileged few had access to artistic representation and expression?

When I inevitably dropped out of art school and moved to Montreal, my friends encouraged me to seek out a collectively run anti-oppressive studio space called the Ste Emilie Skillshare. At the Ste Emilie Skillshare, I experienced how anti-oppression could be applied through community-engaged art. I learned how anti-oppression, through art, could act as a practice to rebalance power within marginalized communities through exposing hierarchies of power and systemic interconnections of struggles. The pay-what-you-can studio space continues to be run by radical queers and people of colour who are passionate about the role of art within social justice movements. It was so inspiring to experience how various forms of art production and representation could be shared in a non-hierarchical, anti-oppressive framework. It was there where I began to challenge rigid notions of art expression and how access to art is inextricably linked to systemic oppression.

My recent involvement with anti-oppressive community engaged art has continued in my art apprenticeship with the community-engaged mosaic project at the 519 Community Centre, in downtown Toronto. Led by artists Anna Camilleri and Tristan R. Whiston of Red Dress Productions, the goal of the project was to create a new large-scale public artwork mosaic that visually celebrates and represents the 519’s diverse communities—and that is community-engaged from beginning to end, including 11 community meets where we brainstormed, mapped stories, and sketched together, and then built together for several weeks in a open studio. The outdoor placement of the work is significant: it challenges the ways in which art is often privately created, and consumed.

It was amazing to see how community-minded anti-oppression was integrated within every aspect of this project. From the community consultations, to the materials used, it taught me how anti-oppression within community-engaged art should not only be visible in the final art piece but throughout the production as well. I appreciate how a diverse group of people of varying ages, abilities, and skills were able to take part in the project. The use of mosaic art in the project really encouraged the full participation of all community members regardless of their artistic backgrounds because the medium very flexible. It was amazing to be a part of intergenerational community members creating relationships with one another, and collectively their own communities. This approach contradicted everything that intimidated me about the art world before.

During open studio hours, we worked to create a working space that was anti-oppressive and did not echo dominant hierarchies of power and privilege. There were challenging moments when certain folks failed to recognize their privileged locations and how their words or actions might negatively affect the dynamic of the group. Learning how to deal with this in real time (not after the fact) so that all participants felt safe and included taught me that anti-oppressive community engaged art isn’t simply about creating art with/in marginalized communities. It’s also about creating dialogue across difference, and challenging entitlement and privilege.

All in all, the role of anti-oppressive community-engaged art continues to teach me how the intersection between art and social justice should always coincide. In my own life, it challenges me to locate myself within the art that I create and the viewers I make it for. The importance of community-engaged art has also shown me how activism can happen in a variety of ways that don’t necessarily involve a megaphone.

Community-engaged public art is radical. It disrupts capital-driven privatization of public spaces, and it contributes to the revitalization of neighbourhoods through a legacy of collaborative art making that authentically connects community members with their neighbourhoods.

Monday, May 10, 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

519 Mosaic studio photographs, April 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

519 Mosaic Studio Hours

All community members are welcome to join the mosaic the project, which means building with us. All materials provided ~ no experience necessary!

Week 5
Monday May 3 – 6 to 10 pm
Tuesday May 4 – 10 am to 1pm
Wednesday May 5 – 2 to 6pm
Sunday May 9 – 1 to 5pm

Week 6
Tuesday May 11 – 5 to 10pm
Wednesday May 12 – 11 am to 3pm
Sunday May 16 – 1 to 5pm

Week 7
Tuesday May 18 – 6 to 10pm
Wednesday May 19 – 1 to 6pm
Sunday May 23 – 1 to 5pm

Week 8
Tuesday May 25 – 6 to 10pm
Wednesday May 26 – 2 to 6pm
Sunday May 30 – 1 to 5pm

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

519 Mosaic Design

This is a technical line drawing of my design. The actual mosaic will be 27 feet long x 5 feet high. Please click on the image for a bigger view of the design.
--Anna Camilleri

Friday, March 12, 2010

SweLL Toronto & Ottawa performance

Red Dress Productions presents
the (re)iteration of TASTE THIS, notorious Vancouver-based queer performance troupe that co-authored BOYS LIKE HER: TRANSFICTIONS

TORONTO, ON performance
Doors 7:30, Show 8:00 pm | Tuesday April 27, 2010
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street
Tickets $12- $20 sliding scale
Advance Tix: Toronto Women’s Bookstore 73 Harbord Street

TORONTO, ON workshops
Thursday April 29, 2010 | 6:30-9 pm @ the 519
Tickets $10, register at www.mayworks.ca
Mayworks Festival is pleased to bring together this literary powerhouse: 1) memoir writing with Ivan E. Coyote, 2) entering writing with curiosity and creative license with Anna Camilleri, or 3) performing your poetry with Ami Mattison.

OTTAWA, ON performance
Doors 8:30, Show 9:00 pm | Friday April 30, 2010
Club SAW, 67 Nicholas Street
Tickets $12- $20 sliding scale
Advance Tix: Venus Envy 320 Lisgar Street

SweLL is the (re)iteration of TASTE THIS, a Vancouver-based performance troupe Taste This that created and toured four stage works in Canada and the US, between 1995 and 2000, and co-authored Boys Like Her: Transfictions (Press Gang Publishers © 1998) to critical and public acclaim. After a nine-year hiatus as collaborators and many book, performance, and recorded works to their individual credit, founding members “cultural agitator and fab femme (NOW)” Anna Camilleri, “natural-born storyteller (Globe and Mail)” Ivan E. Coyote, and “musical genius (Xtra)” Lyndell Montgomery initiated SweLL to create So The Story Goes, for which they are joined by visual artist Leslie Peters.

The premiere one-off performance of So The Story Goes was presented by the 10th Annual Vancouver Pride in Art Festival on August 2, 2009, to a sold-out, standing ovation house at the Roundhouse Theatre.

A lot has changed since Taste This emerged onto the cultural scene, but the issues that the earlier performance project inhabited continue to be relevant—questions of gender, sexuality, desire, culture and class, rural versus city life, and kinship. Home stories. Queer tales. Stories that swell and implode the spaces between cultural institutions and queer landscapes; between female and male; between tightly produced performance and kitchen table talk.

“Their (Taste This) rigorous exploration of gender and sexuality opened up strange new worlds posing enough threat to shut down all the arts funding in Alberta.”
—Mix Magazine

“Boys Like Her speaks eloquently of the need for civil rights for all of us . . . ”
—Library Journal

Red Dress Productions E: reddressproductions@gmail.com
Mayworks Festival T: 416. 599. 9096 W: www.mayworks.ca

Red Dress Productions gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council’s Multi Arts Program, Mayworks Festival, our Toronto presentation partner, and community sponsors Venus Envy [.ca], No More Potlucks [.org], and Toronto Women’s Bookstore.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

519 Mosaic Apprentices

We're happy to be joined by community art apprentices Heidi Cho, Tamara Perez Mucino, and Rafaela Dominici Vidinha!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Archival photo from Poetry Is Not a Luxury, a collaborative installation with Sandra Alland, Anna Camilleri, and Karen Augustine, pesented by Mayworks Festival.

Poetry Is Not a Luxury is the title of an essay by Ms. Audrey Lourde.