One of the biggest art exhibits comes to Toronto every year to put on an extensive all-night display. From 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Nuit Blanche offers art lovers a chance to be awestruck by all the talent various artists have to offer. The theme this year is “You are Here”, and Laurier had another chance to take part in the event at their Toronto location at 130 King St. W.
Carolyn Hawthorn, the University Relations Manager for Laurier Toronto, explained Laurier’s contribution: “One of them has a very close connection to Laurier. One of them is called ‘From Toronto, with Love’, and it is curated by an organization called Not Just Tourists, and we’ve actually worked with them before,” said Hawthorn. “We’ve done suitcase drives for the organization. They are an organization that collects suitcases and medical supplies and volunteers pack the suitcases when they travel – they pick up those suitcases and drop them off at a pre-determined medical centre or hospital,” she said. “One of the directors at the Toronto chapter is a Laurier alumni and works with Not Just Tourists. That’s a great opportunity for us to work with someone we have a great connection with.”
“From Toronto, With Love” has had great connections working with Not Just Tourists (NJT), and creating an exhibit in partnership with them seemed like a great bonus alongside its connections with Laurier.
“Not Just Tourists Toronto program director Avi D’Souza is a Laurier alumnus, and through him we have a special relationship with Laurier,” said Julia Selinger, curator of “From Toronto, with Love” and exhibiting artist. “They have been so supportive, running suitcase drives for NJT and now generously hosting ‘From Toronto, with Love’. I know that Laurier takes great pride in celebrating the themes of humanitarianism, community and diversity which are embodied in our project,” said Selinger.
The exhibit held a first look on September 27 for Laurier faculty and students to have a sneak peek at the artwork before the public had the chance. The work had been designed to offer a sense of the diversity in the Laurier community and the importance of different backgrounds.
“We have 24 unique works of art from individual artists using many different mediums, and each one has special meaning for me,” said Selinger. “All the artwork was created specifically for this project. I wanted to provoke thought in many directions and have curated works from a diverse group of artists representing a wide array of experiences and perspectives, cultures, and age groups. Some of the stories they tell will make you smile and some of them will break your heart,” she said.
The artwork has an even greater connection with Laurier: with the involvement of the international student body, Laurier alumni have also taken part in this exhibit to share their stories of how Laurier has created a safe environment for them to stay in The suitcases have personal meaning to each alumnus, and some even touch upon Indigenous rights and the ongoing problem involving murdered and missing Indigenous women.
“We also have two suitcases within that instillation that have been designed by people from the Laurier community,” said Hawthorne. “C. Elizabeth Best is a graduate student from Laurier and she designed an absolutely amazing suitcase and it’s titled ‘my fear of going missing’, and it’s her take on the murdered Indigenous women…Some insight, the ‘my fear of going missing’ installation is a tribute and it reflects Elizabeth’s fear of going missing and her response,” said Hawthorne.
Laurier provides the artists the space for free, and most of their funding comes from bursaries and grants to allow them full artistic freedom. Along with the “From Toronto, with Love”, Laurier has taken on another exhibit called “Three Chapters of Solitude”. This exhibit takes a very different approach in its presentation; short videos, created by Henry Heng Lu, are presented with his take on his journey as a “culturally displaced person”.
“Nuit Blanche is very supportive of the independent artists, and they want their projects to succeed,” said Selinger. “The application process and all the deadlines may seem a bit daunting, but it is a great way to start to self produce your work, with guidelines and timelines to help you get there – so submit your ideas! Laurier chooses from the successful applicants suggested to them by Nuit Blanche. We are so grateful to have them as our venue host! I am certain we couldn’t have gotten luckier,” she said.
Nuit Blanche is a widely appreciated exhibition and the various ideas to come out of the artwork are great examples of the hard work of the very talented artists. Every year the planning for each exhibition is extensive, but Laurier and the organization are always looking for great artists who have experiences to share to contribute and be a part of such a great night.