We are pleased to announce the artists selected for our annual themed commission: Jenna Reid & Cassandra Myers, Sarah Holloway, Lena Phillips, Laura Margaret Ramsey, Shonee, Maria Simmons, and Sidi Chen. This year’s open call, titled Ecologies & Cosmologies invites project proposals that explore and critique different forms of interdependency, networks of life, and destabilize fixed entities/identities/borders through technological, ecological or cosmological metaphors.
The Themed Commission is generously supported by the EQ Bank.
Jenna Reid is the current Artistic Director at Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture, and the board president of the Contemporary Textile Studio Co-operative. Jenna is a fibre artist who works primarily with the practices of quilting, natural dyes, and protest art as a way to engage with activist based aesthetics. Jenna has completed residencies on Toronto Island with the Feminist Art Conference, at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and has exhibited her work and presented on panels in Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia. Jenna completed a studio-based PhD in Critical Disability Studies at York University.
Cassandra Myers (they/she/he) is a queer, non-binary, crippled, mad, South-Asian-Italian performance poet and counsellor from Tkaronto, Ontario. Raised in the slam poetry community for seven years, Cassandra has earned titles such as the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Champion. As he transitions to the page, her work has won the ARC Poetry Magazine’s Poem of the Year Award 2021 and the Reader’s Choice Award. Their first collection of poems, Smash the Headlights, is forthcoming from Write Bloody North Publishing.
Shonee is a Canadian-Costa Rican digital media artist based in Montreal who uses the immersive potential of video and speculative fiction to create artificial life. In the virtual worlds she creates, surreal creatures embody humankind’s objective and narrow misunderstanding of the lives of plants and animals in this time of ecological crisis.
Maria Simmons is an artist from Hamilton, ON. She investigates potentialized environments through the creation of hybrid sculpture and installation. Her work embraces contamination as an act of collaboration. She collects garbage, grows mushrooms, ferments plants, and nurtures fruit flies. She makes art that eats itself. She holds an MFA from the University of Waterloo and a BFA from McMaster University. She has completed residencies at Mustarinda, Finland, BioArt Society, Silent Barn in NYC, and Factory Media Centre in Hamilton, ON.
Lena Phillips is a creative and spatial practitioner with a background in design justice, systems design and urban research. Working in Canada and internationally, her background spans the non-profit, public, philanthropic and academic sectors. Previously, Philips worked at the intersection of equity and philanthropy supporting grassroots and systems change work being led by-and-for Black and Indigenous communities. She is currently based at the African Centre for Cities in Cape Town, South Africa where her work is focused on applying decolonial urbanisms and epistemologies to critically interrogate dominant conceptions of place and space.
Laura Margaret Ramsey is a Toronto-based scholar, imaging specialist and artist. Ramsey is known for her use of data visualisation & sonification to explore the natural world, imaging processes and computational awareness. Her work is heavily influenced by the structure of the archive, the preservation of obsolete technology, and the algorithmic approaches in data management.
Sidi Chen is a travelling queer artist whose practice addresses the intersectionality of the body, community space, and the land. Through his interdisciplinary research crossing arts to science and social movements, Chen is interested in how the physical and cultural environments reflect and (de)construct the humanities. Chen is currently based in the historical Chinatown, on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, known as Vancouver, BC.
Sarah Holloway was born in what is now called Oakville, Ontario, Canada, in the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee, the Anishnabek Nation, the Attawandaron, and the Mississaugas of the Credit. Her education began at OCAD University before transferring to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to complete a degree in furniture design. With an education in craft, she is curious how these older ways of knowing can be used in the field of computation.