The first group exhibition at the SOHO LOBBY GALLERY, a new community creative hub, is OCAD University’s own Onyx Society, a student-run organization providing community and support for African and Afro-diasporic students. T-Dot Pioneers 3.0: The Future Must Be Replenished radically envisions how the historical archive might reside within the very aesthetic innovations that make hip hop culture always fresh.
Nadia Galati, SOHO LOBBY GALLERY’s Director of Exhibitions (and an OCAD U alum) describes the gallery’s community arts focus and how it emerged from her work:
Community hubs are often spaces in which arts and cultural activity materialize. They are places in which artists, creative thinkers and cultural workers are in trust. They are places in which curiosity cultivates; individuals come together; world views are confronted or affirmed; innovation and preservation is cherished; creativity and imagination are fuelled; critical thinking, and humanity develops; and society is inspired to be inclusive. These places can also help build a community’s identity and promote stewardship among populaces and stakeholders.
My work at OCAD U has taken me throughout Ontario and these experiences have illustrated the vast discrepancies in community access to the arts, raising important questions. Do all communities have equal access to art? Do all communities, based on their circumstantial experiences – historical discrimination, financial problems, personal challenges or other circumstances beyond their control – have the ability to access art and design? Do all communities feel embraced by the art community? Do all communities experience art communities as inclusive? Through my experiences I have spent time thinking about these questions and the presence of underrepresented groups in the arts overall.
Since graduating from OCAD U in 2010, I have maintained a community arts practice focused on increasing the access marginalized groups have to art, design and creative pursuit. Through community agencies such as Pathways to Education, the Pape Adolescent Resource Centre (PARC), Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and many others, I conduct mixed media workshops. These workshops offer youth an opportunity to explore their own creativity and the arts for their personal growth, social development and community involvement. Many of the workshops are co-created and facilitated by youth leaders.
I believe that communities should have the power to make their own decisions. My aim is to facilitate an environment where communities can create their own solutions on their own terms. My practice is about collaboration with youth and creative peers. Developing creative experiences that provide marginalized artists with a positive, safe space – to discover new artmaking possibilities, build confidence and try new materials – ultimately inspires youth to become more engaged and imaginative community members.
In the fall of 2012, I was approached by the SoHo Metropolitan Condominiums to reactivate their storefront gallery space. The SoHo heard about my community arts practice and was interested in inviting the creative minds I work with into their space with me as the Director of Exhibitions. Exhibiting and showcasing the boundless, young, creative thinkers I work with is a positive step towards an inclusive, Toronto art community. Toronto can only be a creative hub when everyone has space and place to develop their imaginations and live a life with art.
In support of carving out space for marginalized artists and aspiring to a new and different level of greatness, I was able to negotiate a zero percent commission for the SoHo Metropolitan Condominiums. Artists who exhibit work at the SOHO LOBBY GALLERY incur no costs. Any profits made through sale of work remain 100 percent with the artist(s).
I’m thrilled to showcase OCAD U’s Onyx Society, and T-Dot Pioneers 3.0 as our inaugural exhibition. Moving away from just documenting the historical through archival material, the Onyx Society, in partnership with Nia Centre for the Arts and Northside Hip Hop, explored the following questions: where does hip hop’s future lie? How does hip hop archive its history? And what role does the visual artist play in replenishing (not preserving) hip hop’s aesthetic freshness? Thinking through these questions helped the Onyx Society arrive at the notion of replenishment, which is the idea that hip hop culture continues to rejuvenate its creativity through the critical and aesthetic engagement of youth.
T-Dot Pioneers 3.0: The Future Must Be Replenished opens Thursday March 7th from 7 to 9 p.m.
Contributed by Nadia Galati, SOHO LOBBY GALLERY’s Director of Exhibitions.
SOHO LOBBY GALLERY
36 Blue Jays Way
Daily hours 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Need more info? Contact:
Nadia Galati, Director of Exhibitions
© OCAD University