Since its inception more than 40 years ago, Visual Arts Mississauga (VAM) at Riverwood has stayed true to its mission by enriching its local community with education, exhibition and engagement opportunities in the fine arts. As of today, VAM has succeeded in building a wonderful physical hub for creativity and has also built a wide and strong social network for local artists to collaborate and share ideas.
Recognizing the lack of local opportunities for young, emerging artists to showcase their work, VAM has tasked itself to create youth-centred exhibits. VAM's most recent youth-centric exhibit, The Art of Dialogue, called on artists between the ages of 18 – 29 to offer their best examples of experimental works that combine traditional and new media techniques. The Art of Dialogue asked each artist to use their creativity to spark conversations about challenging but essential topics that we need to address with our families, society and ourselves. This exhibition was generously sponsored by TD Bank.
The exhibit's opening night on Friday, February 9 was a resounding success as performers, artists and patrons from across the GTA battled a typical Canadian, February snowstorm to attend. The opening was coordinated in collaboration with The Open Gallery (OG), a mobile gallery working to help youth and emerging artists in Mississauga. The OG invited spoken word artists and creative vendors to the event, resulting in an incredibly interactive experience.
“I was amazed at the turn out, the volume of art, and the depth of thought and ideas in the art. Some very profound perspectives and a host of societal issues were parlayed in the artists' works,” said Mike Giguere, Chair of the Board, Visual Arts Mississauga. “It was a proud moment (among many) to be a Board member, and to witness the dynamism of VAM creating such an event.”
Thanks to TD Bank, winners of the exhibition received cash prizes to commend their innovation and creativity. Third place was given to the art book titled Fresh Coat of Grit and a New Layer of Dust vol. 2 by Carrying Root Collective. The book presents our increasingly sensitive natural environment, by exploring themes of ecology, the manipulation of landscape and the production of natural materials.
Katarina Tkaczyszyn received second prize for Stages, an installation that incorporated elements of photography, performance, and video. In this work Katarina addresses her personal experiences with seasonal affective disorder where body language becomes the primary source of expression to address mental illness. Click the following link to see the video portion: Stages Video
The intricate paper-cut by Fong Ki Wan, titled Mind Blown, received first prize. Mind Blown is a piece that was inspired by the artist's first music concert experience. “I wanted to translate the feeling of being so overly saturated that you can’t even focus and comprehend all that is happening, ” states Fong, who used a very traditional medium to express a very modern experience.
“The Art of Dialogue was successful in so many ways. I felt it was important to open up this conversation with the community; how are we, as artists, conversing through art?” said Hibah Mian, founder and chief curator of The Open Gallery.
Currently, there is high-demand for local, creative, collaborative spaces and VAM - true to its history - is committed to answering the call. Moving forward, VAM will continue to create opportunities for emerging talent to bring new ideas, thoughts and creations to our community. And we'll be there.