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September 27 - December 28, 2014
When thinking of “The Suburbs” one doesn’t immediately think of creativity or cultural hubs – particularly post WWII suburbs. The usual opinion of the suburbs, at least by urban folk, is not at all flattering. There is a clear demarcation between the urbanites who are where it’s happening and the suburbanites who are left to flounder in a cultural wasteland.
Yet a lot can happen in the suburbs that falls outside the commonly held notion of “endless sprawl, a punishing commute, and McMansions.”1
After all the suburbs are far removed from the “centre” and exist on the outskirts away from mainstream influences. The fringe has always been identified with creativity, nonconformists and the unruly.
This group of artists is made up of those who grew up in the ‘burbs, some who still inhabit them, one who drives through from time to time and another who has looked to them for inspiration.
– Melanie Egan, Head, Craft & Design, Harbourfront Centre
 Leigh Gallagher, “The End of the Suburbs,” Time Magazine, July 31, 2013. http://ideas.time.com/2013/07/31/the-end-of-the-suburbs/
I didn’t grow up in the suburbs, I grew up in a rural area. When I visited my friends (all of whom lived in the suburbs), I noticed a big difference. To me it was exciting to have so many other kids to hang out with. It seemed like someone was always walking their dog. I was jealous of each subdivision’s communal playground. At night however, I always lay awake unable to sleep from the orange glow of the street lights. Seriously, do those always need to be on? Laying there, I noticed plenty of noise, cars slowly driving by, young intoxicated folk now took over the playground. It became a frightening place for me.
The print I created for Outskirts explores the patterns created by the streets and houses in a subdivision.
– Alex Brownell
Alex Brownell is from the rural hamlet of Leskard, Ontario. She grew up catching frogs, exploring the woods, and writing scary stories. This curiosity and creativity stuck with her and eventually she attended Sheridan College’s Craft & Design program in Textiles. She continues to practice her craft in Toronto.
The Watcher sits hidden behind the intricately latticed Mashribiya, screened from the outside world, protected from prying eyes. However, if it is the Watcher that remains unseen, but can still observe from his post, whom does the screen protect and whom does it make vulnerable? On the streets of SuburbArabia protective charms disguise themselves as street signs. The Evil Eye promises to protect from harm and jealousy – a comfort for some and a warning for others.
The Evil Eye is a common symbol worn or hung in homes and shops by many in the Middle East. It is believed that the symbol, often made from cobalt-coloured glass, will protect the user from the “Evil Eye” or jealousy.
The Watchers meshes Islamic motifs with suburban street signs to explore illusions of protection and privacy while questioning the veracity of the objects and institutions that claim to keep us safe.
– Habiba El-Sayed
Habiba El-Sayed is a Toronto-born ceramic artist currently completing her BFA at NSCAD University. She is a recent graduate of the Ceramics program at Sheridan College and holds a diploma with the Silver Medal for academic achievement and High Honours. El-Sayed has received various awards including the Peter’s Valley Scholarship (2012), the Silent Night Award (2013), and the prestigious Clifford Scholarship (2014). Her work has been shown at the Gardiner Museum, Sheridan Gallery, MakeWorks (Toronto) and Jonathan Bancroft-Snell Gallery (London, ON).
When I first began my series, aPart, my main focus was on how memory, perception, culture, and history play a role in shaping one’s identity, particularly how it had shaped my own.
As the series has expanded, it has evolved to be less concerned about understanding the individual for the sake of self awareness and has become interested in the individual in the context of community, striving to find connections in order to bind one self to others.
Through the use of colour, pattern and imagery specific to my history, I intend to communicate, in terms that can be universally appreciated, the importance of valuing this relationship and how encouraging and cultivating a sense of community can heighten the quality of life.
– Margaret Lim
In 2007 Margaret Lim received a Bachelor of Design from Toronto’s OCAD University where she majored in Material Art and Design. Upon graduation she was accepted into the Artist-in-Residence programme at Harbourfront Centre where she built her practice from 2007-2010. She went on to be a founding member of STUDIO HUDDLE in Toronto where she continues her metal-smithing work; making traditional and non-traditional jewellery pieces and sculptural objects.
My work reflects the value of the handmade object and how our daily rituals are impacted by the environment in which we live. I take inspiration from the shifting urban landscape, architecture old and new, people bustling within it, and the patterns and textures of the city’s infrastructure. Experimentations with surface and design construction are important considerations in my ceramics.
In this series, I am looking at structures on the outskirts of the city. Photographs of power transmission towers and suburban intersections have been screen printed onto the ceramic surface.
– Jenanne Longman
Jenanne Longman graduated from NSCAD University with a BFA. In 2007 she began the Artist-in-Residence programme at Harbourfront Centre. Her ceramics have been shown in various galleries and exhibitions nationally.
I have lived in a few different cities throughout my life, but always downtown. My work is traditionally inspired by photographs of my daily life in urban Toronto. Until one day in the winter when I began taking my car and driving outside my comfort zone. Mostly I’d park in strip mall lots, get out of my car and take hundreds of photos. Many times the cold and wide avenues made me huddle in the driver’s seat and experience these unknown neighbourhoods through the window, sipping a coffee to try to warm up, until I got the courage to confront the wind again, standing there with only one or two people walking by and the cars passing.
– Yasmine Louis
Yasmine Louis is a francophone silkscreen artist working in Toronto. Louis has been commissioned four times by the Art Gallery of Ontario to design and silkscreen limited edition shirts and pillows. In 2011, the City of Toronto commissioned her to design and silkscreen on paper thirteen prints representing thirteen Toronto neighbourhoods – a collection of prints that drew significant media attention and is now part of the City of Toronto Art Collection. This commission inspired her to take her work in a new direction with original prints and site-specific artwork.
With this piece I was inspired by the idea of visceral repulsion and harmful practices done for superficial reasons. This is explored in the use of mold as a surface treatment. While it evokes a negative reaction, mold is safer to handle than many synthetic dyes. Another way that this idea presents itself is the way that many people value perfection enough to disregard the negative consequences. This can be seen in the use of pesticides and herbicides in order to have perfect produce and immaculate lawns at the expense of our bee population. I incorporate these ideas through the materials and imagery, including beeswax as a surface treatment and spoiled produce as a medium for mold growth.
– Aidan Mayner
Aidan Mayner studied textiles at Sheridan College and has a background in visual arts, graphic design and fashion. He often uses reworked traditional techniques, contrasting them with a modern design sensibility. His work has always had elements that make it more environmentally friendly, employing vintage fabrics, found objects and unconventional materials to reduce waste rather than just using organic fabrics. He minimizes his environmental impact while creating textiles with a new aesthetic.
Thriving communities are made up of a mix of people from diverse cultures, classes and abilities, whether they are found in cities, suburbs or outskirts. But what happens when you don’t relate to the community in which you were raised? There is a strong need to belong, but you can’t stuff a square peg in a round hole.
Growing up in a very conservative middle-class suburb, I was expected to be just like everyone else. My experience of the suburbs was tightly tied to very narrow-minded ways of living: the bland uniformity and regimented sameness of everything in between the cookie-cutter houses, strip malls and generic apartment buildings.
In response, I have taken a fantastical approach to Outskirts to escape the stifling reality of my experience of suburbia. Suspended into a place of imaginative wonderment, my work is inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and the work of Paul Klee.
– Loree Ovens
Loree Ovens holds a Diploma of Applied Arts from Sheridan College, School of Crafts and Design (1992). She was an Artist-in-Residence at Harbourfront Centre from 1994-95. She has a BFA in Printmaking from OCAD University (2008). Ovens’ work has been shown in exhibitions in Canada, Japan, the US, Taiwan, Australia and Scotland. Her work is part of both private and public collections including the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Art Gallery of New South Wales and SGC International. Loree Ovens is represented by David Kaye Gallery and Open Studio in Toronto.
As new immigrants to this country with a toddler in tow, my parents chose Mississauga for its proximity to Toronto, larger single home properties and quieter lifestyle. In the 25 years that I lived in Mississauga it always amazed me how quickly the city was growing. I watched new schools being built, the revitalization of the waterfront, increased bike lanes, and new trails put in the parks, just to name a few changes. A common sight while growing up was the construction of new houses and the renovation of old ones. My family shares the same story with many other families who made the choice to move out of the big city to experience the quality of life Mississauga had to offer. This city will always hold many fond memories of childhood to adolescence to young adulthood, and I look forward to seeing how it grows over the next 25 years.
– Filipa Pimentel
Filipa Pimentel was born in Cascais, Portugal and emigrated to Canada with her family at the age of two. She grew up in suburbs of Toronto while maintaining strong ties with family back home in Portugal. Filipa studied ceramics at OCAD University and in 2008, graduated with a Bachelor of Design. Since graduation, Filipa has established her ceramic design business focusing on functional tableware, decorative art and small production custom manufacturing.