Novella’s Art Guide February 2018

Untitled by Yannick Anton. Showing at “Of Ourselves” this month.

Our art guide rarely has a unifying theme. Normally, we trowel through the galleries in town to find what looks the most promising and relay it here, but for February, for Black History Month, we have compiled a list of solo and group art exhibitions and festivals solely featuring Black artists. We invite you to take note of these events, as a member of the Black Community an ally, to further your understanding and education on their perspectives.


Our first pick is not a show but a panel, taking place on the 16th of February. While we’re always about appreciating art through individual viewing, we also need to showcase an event such as this, where art, identity and inclusion intersect beautifully. The panel features four Black artists: Dainty Smith, Ekow Nimako, Samson Brown and Rania El Mugammar. Each artist will discuss how they build inclusion and liberate themselves within their respective mediums.

Find more information here.


At BAND, their aim is to present works by Black artists, both in Canada and from around the world and connect them to a large audience. This month, their gallery will host a retrospective this month for acclaimed photographer Michael Chambers. Curated by Pamela Edmonds, the show will feature Chamber’s stunning photographs of nude bodies, which touch on themes of sexuality, desire, diaspora and belonging.

Find more information here.


Beginning in January, the Royal Ontario Museum has put on a new show featuring the works of nine contemporary Canadian Black artist. Artists featured in the exhibition include Sandra Brewster, Michèle Pearson Clarke, Chantal Gibson, Sylvia D. Hamilton, Bushra Junaid, Charmaine Lurch, Esmaa Mohamoud, Dawit L. Petros and Gordon Sadrach. Each artists works in multi media, so the installations will vary from sculpture to painting to film, but each will evoke powerful images of the presence and history of Black people in Canada.

Find more information here.


The Gladstone Hotel’s February exhibition features works by Toronto-based photographers Yannick Anton, Curtiss Randolph, Nathalia Allen and Neva Wireko. The over-arching theme of the show is Black identity as it was described by writer W.E.B. DuBois, describing the Black person as having two selves: their true self and the one forced on them by the outside world. The artists engage with this concept in their own ways, creating portrayals of Black identity from the perspective of the portrayed.

Find more information here.

TORONTO BLACK FILM FESTIVAL (February 14th — 19th)

Film, in and of itself, is a  visual art form. Though it is far more commercialized than other media and collaborative by nature, it is visual storytelling with the ability to initiate debate and evoke emotion. While we don’t normally put film festivals in our guides, this month we’re making an exception for a festival that needs to be written about. Now in its fifth year, the Toronto Black Film Festival (or TBFF) aims to showcase some of the best Black films from around the world and act as a platform for independent Black filmmakers. The festival has everything from full-length documentaries and narratives, to shorts, to animated films, so there will be something of interest to even the most dubious of viewers.

Find more information here.

Toronto Exhibitions to Check Out

As an individual who is avidly pursuing the most recent exhibitions Toronto has to offer, I rarely fall short of galleries to check out. Toronto’s art scene is bustling and vibrant with vivid histories and biographies for audiences to discover. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend that’s a little different than heading to your local watering hole, take a peek around the city and you’d be surprised at what you can find.

We put together a little list to get you on the right track. Scroll down to see what’s going on in your city.

Guillermo Del Toro: At Home With Monsters 

On now – January 7, 2018 — Who wouldn’t want to get into the mind of Guillermo del Toro and peer into his “cabinet of curiosities?” On now at the AGO, At Home gives the viewer an insight to the creative process behind his most menacing characters. The exhibit is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Minneapolis Institute of Art.

“To find beauty in the profane. To elevate the banal. To be moved by genre. These things are vital for my storytelling,” says Guillermo del Toro. “This exhibition presents a small fraction of the things that have moved me, inspired me, and consoled me as I transit through life.”

Cindy Crawford by Marco Glaviano

On now – November 2, 2017 — Located in the heart of Toronto’s trendy Yorkville district, Izzy Gallery is once again ready to impress with their current exhibit. The beautiful Cindy Crawford appears almost life-like through Marco Glaviano’s extraordinary shots. In the 1980’s, Glaviano played a role in developing and supporting the supermodel phenomenon, photographing many swimsuit calendars of these famous ladies.

The Faraway Nearby: Photographs of Canada from The New York Times Photo Archive

Ryerson Image Centre/

On now – December 10, 2017 — On now in the Main Gallery at the Ryerson Image Centre, The Faraway Nearby features photographs of Canadian subject matter from the New York Times Photo Archive.  This exhibition features the diverse landscapes across Canada with a spotlight on sports heroes, important Canadian figures, while providing an overview of our national experience. The exhibit was made by Chris Bratty in celebration of Canada’s 150.

Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels

Bata Shoe Museum/

On now – November 21, 2017 — The Bata Shoe Museum brings forward an interesting history that challenges our preconceived notions of who wears high heels. From the 1600’s, until today, Standing Tall brings forward an interesting timeline of men’s heeled footwear.

Amalia Pica: Ears to Speak Of   

The Power Plant/

On now – December 31, 2017 — Located at Toronto’s Harbourfront, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery features a Amalia Pica’s Ears to Speak Of, a new installation that “continues her engagement with the failures and impossibilities of communication and obsolete technologies.” The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication, co-produced by The Power Plant and the IMA Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, where Amalia Pica will present a solo exhibition from 18 November 2017—10 March 2018.

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Novella’s March Art Guide

We live our lives in dichotomies. We are strong and vulnerable, hateful and kind, generous and selfish. We are always reminiscing about the past yet always looking forward to the future. We are always surrounded by strangers but sometimes we feel completely alone. These contrasting ideas are an undeniable part of the whirlwind of human experience. If we weren’t ridiculously complicated, we wouldn’t be ourselves.

Our art picks for March examine some of these conflicting ideas. Some of them link experiences of the past to our current social climate, while others look to the future. One connects feelings of familiarity to alienation and one is a harsh wake-up call to our relationship with cycles of consuming and discarding.

These are all very different exhibitions, but in their own ways they are each asking questions about our past, present, and future.


When times are as complex and difficult as ours is now, the gaze shifts to the past for context and the future for hope for change. For the Black community, part of that examination of the past is linked to Black History Month; and a glimpse to the distant future can be found in Black Future Month 3017, a group show being held at The Public through March. The Afrofuturism Art Exhibition’s purpose is to envision the world 1000 years from now through the eyes of Black artists. If you’re thinking you’ll find some sci-fi elements present, you’re not wrong, but those will be rooted in the context of our current reality and matters of identity and culture.

Find out more here.


Some of the most powerful photographs in existence are those of protest. Such raw emotion and powerful imagery can’t be found anywhere else. Think of recent photos from the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter marches. The emotions these pictures can inspire are incredibly strong. In the current exhibition at Unlovable on Dundas West, the works by the late John F. Phillips, depicting protests in Canada and the U.S. in the 60s and 70s, will be shown with works from Canadian photographer Laura Jones. While Phillips’ pictures are 40 to 50 years old, the current political and social climate makes them relevant to us today.

Find out more here.


In recent years, the term ‘fast fashion’ has gained a lot of attention through the public’s exposure to the workings of fashion companies that produce large amounts of cheap clothing through exploitative labour overseas. Susan Avishai puts her own spin on this topic in her solo show at the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre. Avishai’s fibre art works use men’s shirts taken from thrift stores to represent our troubling relationships to clothing and textile. These structures created from castoffs demonstrate just a fraction of the amount of clothing and textile we dispose of without a thought.

Find out more here.


Canadian artist Stanzie Tooth’s latest exhibition features works tied together under the themes of familiarity and alienation. These contrasting emotions and states of being are, of course, a big part of the human experience, and it’s clear to see, when looking at Tooth’s paintings, how the feeling of isolation in common spaces is evoked. The ability to convey these ideas through abstract paintings showcases Tooth’s artistic talent perfectly. This is Tooth’s third solo show at the General Hardware Contemporary and promises to be thought-provoking and intriguing.

Find out more here.


It has been said that the universal story of humanity is one of migration. But now it is an ongoing political issue that has leapt to the forefront of our social consciousness due to the refugee crisis in Syria and recent events in the United States. Because of the difficulties immigrants face today, their stories and stories of past immigrants are being heard around the world. Vessna Perunovich tells her own story of immigrating from Serbia in the 1980s through an interactive installation at Angell Gallery. Perunovich tells her interpretation of this story by connecting her personal experiences in the past to what’s happening right now.

Find out more here.

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