Forward from Linda Jansma, Senior Curator
In 2014, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery hosted the exhibition Re:Purpose, an interactive, group exhibition that focused on artists who reclaim and repurpose objects and ideas as part of their practice. Co-curated by Elizabeth Sweeney and Syrus Marcus Ware, the exhibition was the gallery’s first to intentionally focus on the work of Deaf and Disabled artists.
As we ask ourselves, “are we reaching and representing our diverse audiences?”, the RMG continually strives towards expanding the artistic perspectives and abilities within our exhibitions and programs. Based on the success of Re:Purpose, and in keeping with our core values of inclusivity and collaboration, we invited curators Lindsay Fisher and Vanessa Dion Fletcher to organize an exhibition that would once again focus on Deaf and Disabled communities. Together, we formed an ad hoc curatorial collective for which I had the privilege of acting as mentor for the project (although I learned as much from Lindsay and Vanessa than any advice I may have given!).
This exhibition is at the forefront in recognizing Deaf and Disabled communities within the public gallery system. To that end, Lindsay and Vanessa chose to extend a Call for Artists in order to become responsive to artist practices that may have been new to the collective, as well as to the broader community. The resulting exhibition of work by Alexis Bulman, Alana MacDougall, Jennifer Martin, Andrew McPhail and Syrus Marcus Ware is the outcome of rigorous and tireless communication between the curators. As they note, The Images in Our Heads, delivers the artists’ “imaginings of difference as a point of invention, magic, survival, resistance, celebration and unexplored territory.”
I would like to thank Lindsay Fisher and Vanessa Dion Fletcher for accepting our invitation and producing an exhibition that highlights and celebrates difference and dismantles stereotypes. Their curiosity and intelligence is reflected in their writing for this catalogue, and gives us a unique view of the inner workings of the curatorial mind. I am grateful to have been privy to a wonderful conversation between two expansive thinkers.
This exhibition wouldn’t exist without the work of Alexis, Alana, Jennifer, Andrew and Syrus. Thank you for sharing your visions and the images in your heads. Thanks to Lindsay for her beautifully designed website and e-catalogue that accompanies the project.
Thanks also goes to the Ontario Arts Council for their support of this project through a Deaf and Disability Arts Project Program grant, as well as the support that the RMG receives through the Canada Council for the Arts and the City of Oshawa.
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery
Vanessa Dion Fletcher is an artist and curator who grew up in Toronto and is curently working Chicago IL. She employs porcupine quills, Wampum belts, and menstrual blood to reveal the complexities of what defines a body physically and culturally. As the Curatorial Intern for Thunderbird Aboriginal Arts, Culture and Entrepreneur Centre she curated Ancestral Teachings Contemporary Perspectives. Later she worked with the Toronto Free Gallery to co-curate Emnowaangosjig || Coming Out: The Shifting and Multiple Self with Jessie Short. From 2012-2014 She was on the board of directors for Whippersnapper Gallery. In 2016 She graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with an MFA in Studio Art.
Lindsay Fisher is a multi-disciplinary artist with various practices in digital media, painting, illustration, textiles, graphic arts and curatorial arts. Her work often explores cultural methods of representation and performing identity, the construction and fragmentation of gender, feminism and the body, and notions of disability and difference. Her work has been shown at various galleries in Vancouver, Toronto and Kingston including Gallery 44 for Proof 21 and Justina Barnicke Gallery as part of Flesh of the World curated by Amanda Cachia.
She is the founder and director of Project Creative Users, a community arts project that brings artists with disabilities and embodied difference together to creatively explore social, cultural, and individual understandings of disability and accessibility through the process of exploring what it means to be a “user” in the environments we inhabit.
Lindsay holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University and a Bachelor of Graphic Design from OCAD University. She currently works in Toronto.