Year in Review (2021)

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2021 presented a lot of challenges for everyone around the globe, Toronto was not exempt from these challenges. We know that art is more important than ever during this pandemic, people need connection and entertainment to get through these tough times. We worked on amazing art projects with so many great groups, artists and communities last year.  Here’s a look at some of the exciting things we got up to:

BSAM Canada x The Bentway #ItsAllRightNow Campaign (July 2020)

We launched a curated extension of the Bentway’s #ItsAllRightNow campaign. Through the lens of nine talented Toronto-based Black and Afro-Indigenous creators, this collaboration aimed to highlight that there are visions being planted for a better future.

Kemetic Yoga (March – September 2021)

We brought on a Kemetic Yoga teacher, Vonnette Ford, from Higher Love Yoga, to lead a Kemetic Yoga series. The series was formatted into 5 parts, based on the elements of Air, Fire, Spirit, Earth and Water. Due to the pandemic we offered a hybrid of virtual and in-person sessions.

Olamina (August to November 2021)

In August we shared our Olamina sculpture right on Toronto’s waterfront, living at Aitken Place Park. This public art sculpture was part of our Waterfront Artist Residency. Olamina is greatly inspired by Octavia E. Butler’s Parable series, taking its namesake from the main character of Butler’s novels, Lauren Oya Olamina, and the folktales of the African water deity, Mami Wata. 

Love Park (October 2021)

In October we launched a multi-sensory artistic piece, Love Letters, surrounding Toronto’s under construction Love Park. We worked with muralist, Curtia Wright, who hand painted the life size L, O, V, and E. In the summer leading up to the installation we asked for love letters from community members which we showcased on two panels. We worked with Never Gallery Ready (NgR) to make these letters into animated visual and audio soundscapes using augmented reality (AR). Unfortunately the art installation is not currently on display and should be back very soon. 

Among Us (August 2021)

Among Us is a short film created by Paul Ohonsi and presented by BSAM Canada to honour the significance of what Emancipation Day means to Black Canadians by exploring what emancipation is in its essence. It explores our relationship to societal constructs that bind us, and focuses on going through the process of letting go of certain constraints, inspiring others to do that same.

In The Moment (November 2021)

In The Moment was an event hosted by the ever charismatic, Toronto-born artist Levyi-Alexander J. Love. This event sought to create a space for Black LGBTQ2S+ folks and our allies to be free. It focused on highlighting the vibrant and expressive vocals and rhymes of three (3) artists that identify as belonging to the Black LGBTQ2S+ community. This performance was shown during the Toronto International Festival of Authors.

Rahyne (November 2021)

Rahyne is an animated short film done in the style of a motion comic that tells a story that expands on the chaotic instability felt during the pandemic and looks to the water to provide guidance and calm. It was created in collaboration with Kahstoserakwathe Paulette Moore from The Aunties Dandelion. We got to showcase the film around the city using a media truck, connecting with multiple communities, which was so important during the pandemic as many feel so isolated and alone.

Workshops

We worked with many groups to run some amazing workshops throughout the year. These included our Plant Exchange workshop using Olamina, Cosmic Alias where we explored Afrofuturism through the concept of creating an alter-ego, and Ripple of Love where we showed gratitude to our closest ties.

Unveiling Heroes:

Unveiling Heroes of the Block is a visual narrative and archiving project that is part of ArtworxTO: City of Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021-2022. It seeks to uncover the buried and lesser-known stories of prominent African Canadian figures that contributed to the foundational fabric of the Toronto we know and experience today. Unveiling Heroes is inspired by Camille Turner’s “Black Grange” project and Dan Bergeron’s “Faces of Regent Park”.

This project is a collaboration between BSAM Canada artists and Dan Bergeron.

We cannot wait to show you what we have in store for 2022, thank you for an amazing 2021!

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