Art Exhibit and Participatory Art Project

Our art exhibit is located in Hart House, East Common Room.

Participatory Art Project: “1,000 Flyers”

By Jessica Marion Barr

According to BirdLife International, over 1,300 bird species globally are now threatened with extinction. In this work in progress, my intention is to fold over 1,000 origami cranes to commemorate these endangered birds. I am currently making paper cranes from junk mail that I have collected over the past few months; each crane is dedicated to one species, and I recite a short statement of hope for the healing and thriving of that species as I am folding the crane.  According to my stepmother Keiko Hayahara, in Japanese culture it is believed that creating a senbazuru (a group of 1,000 paper cranes) aids in the healing of an ill person; she has told me that as one is folding each crane, one can say a small prayer or set an intention for the healing of that person – or, in this case, species. I invite viewers to participate by folding their own paper cranes for the species that remain on the list. Participants choose a species and say a short statement of hope while folding their crane, and then label that crane with the name of their chosen species. Their bird will then be added to the ‘flock’. The use of flyers (rather than origami paper) draws attention to the fact that the ads we see and discard so frequently may well be produced from trees which should have been protected habitat for endangered birds. Furthermore, the products advertised in the flyers, and the larger system of consumerism they represent, contribute significantly to pollution, destruction of ecosystems, and other factors that are endangering so many birds and other species (including humans). Finally, the term “flyers” is a play on words, referring both to printed advertisements as well as creatures that fly – an apt title for a project about birds. The root of the word ‘commemorate’ is the Latin word memorare, ‘relate’, which comes from memor, ‘mindful.’ This relational project is meant to be an opportunity to mindfully, tactilely, and creatively engage with serious environmental problems, while hopefully encouraging a greater sense of interconnection with our ecological kin.

Jessica Marion Barr is a Toronto artist, educator, and Ph.D. Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. Her interdisciplinary practice – which includes installation, found-object assemblage, drawing, painting, collage, and poetry – focuses on forging links between visual art, elegy, ecology, ethics, and sustainability. In keeping with her ecological commitments, Jessica has made her recent works using salvaged, reclaimed/reused, nontoxic, and biodegradable materials.  In addition to exhibiting her works in galleries and community spaces, Jessica teaches courses, gives talks, and leads workshops on ecologically-engaged art.  Images of Jessica’s artwork and accompanying texts have been published in The Brock Review and The Goose, and she will be contributing a chapter to an upcoming anthology entitled Environment and/as Mourning.  She has recently exhibited work at World of Threads Outdoor Environmental Installations (Oakville, ON), Wall Space Gallery (Ottawa), FINA Gallery - University of British Columbia (Okanagan campus, Kelowna), and Union Gallery, The Artel, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, and the Ban Righ Centre (all in Kingston, ON).

Art Exhibitors

Sylvia Curtis-Norcross

Sylvia’s past projects include Project Manager for the cultural exchange The Argentinean Canadian Mural Project on Citi Plaza, General Manager of LOLA festival (London Outdoor Live Arts), Co-coordinator of Naturalization and Restoration Projects for the Riverforks Community Organization. Sylvia’s work can be seen in the Public collections throughout Argentina as well as in Private Collections Internationally while her essays can be found in Border Crossings, Gallery Catalogues, and weeklies. Currently Sylvia holds the exceptional position of Atelierista (visual literacy educator and studio provocateur) for the Emergent Curriculum based London Bridge Child Care Services, and sits on the Trees and Forests Advisory Committee to the City of London, Ontario. She is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her community based ecological and cultural initiatives. Sylvia was born in Montreal Quebec, received an Honours Bachelor of Visual Arts Degree from the University of Western Ontario, and a professional certificate in Project Management.

Rocio Graham

Rocio Graham was born in Mexico and immigrated to Canada in 2002. She is an interdisciplinary artist with a Fine Arts Certificate from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and is currently enrolled in the Alberta College of Art and Design working towards her BFA. She has attended printmaking workshops in Mexico and Cuba and recently finished a residency in Casa de La Cultura in San Juan Chamula Mexico. She has exhibited regularly in British Columbia and Ontario. Her work explores contemporary gender, social and political issues from a bi-cultural perspective. She is interested on indigenous feminism, the maternal and altered physical or emotional landscapes. Her work is infused with metaphor, energy and poetry.

Ruthanne Henry

I am trained as a landscape architect, and have led a rewarding career in ecological design and planning for the conservation of natural features. Now, as an emerging visual artist I am working with the themes of healing, growth and regeneration of ourselves and our landscape context. I work in a variety of media; paint, photography, as well as installation sculpture and performance work. Recent Toronto shows include a solo show Landscape Ironies at the Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, as well as Scapes, (also at Propeller), The Eco-Art Exhibition at Gallery 1313 and The Changing Landscape at the Papermill Gallery. In Clarksburg my work has been exhibited in the Loft Gallery. I relate to the urban forest on a very personal level. I live adjacent to the forest looking into it, and follow the cycle of seasons. I take joy in observing the hawks nesting, owls sleeping and the subtle changes in the plant communities around where I live. I feel the forest is an extension of me as well as all of us living around it. According to scientists such as Harlow Shapley and David Suzuki we are the forest; including the fungi, plants and animals we share or exchange oxygen with. In my opinion, a degraded forest with little structure, compacted soils, lacking in species diversity reflects a wounded self. I want to be healthy and enjoy the refuge of forests teaming with diverse life and a variety of layered textures. For more information:

Les Luxemburger

I am an art educator and instructor, and teach out of my studio located in Newmarket, ON. As the owner and Creative Director of ART on the Go, an art education and creative consulting business, I specialize in facilitating eco‐art workshops at schools, festivals, and for environmental and non‐profit organizations, as well as businesses that seek ways to use art to explore environmental and social issues and arrive at potential solutions that are both innovative and deeply meaningful and relevant to them. I am also the Curatorial Director with the Toronto Urban Photography Festival. After completing a Bachelor and Masters degree in Environmental Studies from York University, I worked as a visual art instructor, environmental policy and conservation specialist, and youth facilitator; which led me to create environmentally themed artwork from 2004 – 2008 – this work was shown as part of York University’s Eco‐Art & Media Festival. My strong arts foundation from McMaster University, Sheridan College and Max the Mutt Animation, informed my eco‐art, which I use to help people understand and explore the ecological crisis and potential solutions. I use visual art as an instrument to inform students, residents, artists, organizations, and businesses about environmental conservation and sustainability. For more information:

Vincenzo Pietropaolo

Vincenzo Pietropaolo is an independent documentary photo artist and writer based in Toronto. After a distinguished career of 15 years as a town planner with the City of Toronto, in 1991 he returned to his earlier passion – social documentary photography. He has produced empathetic photo essays on a range of social justice issues, such as migrant farm workers, refugees, and people with intellectual disabilities. His work is in many collections, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the University of Toronto Art Centre, and Library and Archives Canada. Vincenzo has distinguished himself as a producer of fine photography books, mixing images with his own original writing. He has authored or edited over a dozen books, and numerous other publications, including seven monographs. He has been featured in about 100 solo and group exhibitions on three continents, and was selected to illustrate the landmark exhibition of Jane Jacobs’s book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. His work on trees was exhibited at the McMichael Gallery Collection, and he was commissioned four times to produce the Toronto Tree Portraits calendar. Canadian Geographic Magazine referred to Pietropaolo as “one of Canada’s pre-eminent documentary photographers”. He is represented by the Stephen Bulger Gallery.

Mark Prier

Mark Prier’s multimedia work rearticulates the vernacular of survival, examining diverse sources, such as history, folklore, and the natural environment. His exhibitions include shows at The Rooms, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, White Water Gallery, Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener & Area (Canada), Kunsthaus Santa Fé (Mexico), the Lost O (United Kingdom), City Without Walls, and [Untitled] Artspace (United States). He travelled to Gotland, Sweden for the Brucebo Summer Residency in 2008, and to Crowsnest Pass, Alberta for Trap/door Artist-Run Centre’s Gushul Studio & Collaboration Residency in 2012. A 2004 graduate of University of Toronto’s Visual Studies program, Prier also took part in HotBox Riverwood’s mentorship program with Reinhard Reitzenstein in 2011. For more information:

Biggi Sigurddson

Born in Hafnarfjordur, Iceland. Biggi worked as a heavy duty mechanic in Iceland, Greenland and Norway for 16 years before emigrating to Canada to pursue his education at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver BC. During his work travels he developed a photography practice based on the landscape. Working as a heavy duty mechanic in the remote north fields affected his way of seeing and experiencing the landscape. His art practice explores the intervention of humans and the relationship shift that happens in the landscape trough this alteration process. His past experience as a mechanic informs how he reads and portrays the land in his images. He spends a lot of time immersed in a location before shooting; looking for the language and the stories that are constructed in the landscape. The photos submitted for this exhibition have never been shown before. They are part of a project that explore energy production and how the landscape and nature in its vulnerability, find a way of recreating and asserting itself. He tries to portrait nature from a hopeful and strong posture. He prefers to navigate his explorations of the land away from the fatalistic and the doomed . He rather works from a place of its dignity, which remains an attribute of nature despite of human intervention. We live in an era of high consumption, weather it is energy or mineral extraction we are in a constant need of natural resources to maintain a lifestyle we have grown used to. The urban forest more than ever is subject to political, ethical, gender and economic forces that are constantly shifting and affecting our relationship with the land and nature. By trying to control nature we have increased human risk. In his landscapes he tries to subtly portrait both dominance and vulnerability.  For more information:

Daniela Tudor

Daniela Tudor is a scientist and artist in the field of bioart, currently working with fungal pigments on wood. She lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Daniela holds a BSc in Wood Engineering from Transilvania University of Brasov, Romania, and currently she is enrolled at University of Toronto in doctoral research program in wood science at Faculty of Forestry. Since she started her research on wood decay, she developed a technique for spalting wood and canvas. Her work was displayed at the permanent Exhibition on Innovative Products at the Palais de Nations in Geneva in 2011 as group participant representing University of Toronto, and at the University of Toronto Art Center in 2012.   

Kathleen Vaughan

Kathleen is an artist and community art educator as well as Assistant professor of Art Education at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). Her research addresses questions of home and belonging with an emphasis on spirit of place, social justice, political ecologies, and human animal relations.  She works in multiple media, including textiles, photography, video, drawing, painting, text, and collage, and is contributing to the articulation of alternative methods in arts practice- based research, specifically collage and walking. Her artwork has been exhibited in museums, galleries and artist run centres in Canada and abroad; her writing is published in scholarly and trade journals.  Kathleen's walking practice is enacted daily in the company of her standard poodle, Baloo, her sidekick for regular adventures in urban woods.  More information about Kathleen can be found at her website at


Lorien Nesbitt

Lorien Nesbitt is a PhD student in the Department of Forest Resources Management at the University of British Columbia. She received a BSc in Ecology and a Masters of Forest Conservation at the University of Toronto. She has since had the privilege of working with communities in Canada's north and in coastal Ecuador on climate change and land use planning, and environmental monitoring and management. She has also recently begun working as a documentary filmmaker. She decided to turn her attention to urban environments and pursue a PhD in urban forestry after living in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a city with very limited trees and green space. She is particularly interested in community-based urban forest planning and the role of digital media in engaging communities in planning processes.

Sean Spender

Sean Spender is a Planting and Sustainability Manager at South African based social enterprise Greenpop. Through tree planting projects, green events, education, social media, and voluntourism they are inspiring green consciousness and activating people to start doing! In just two years Greenpop has planted over 18,000 trees at schools, creches and community centres in the undergreened areas of Cape Town and beyond and hosted numerous Reforestation Festivals. Trees for Zambia 2012 was their first international project and is the focus of this short film he is presenting at UFPE 2013.

Adrina Bardekjian

Adrina Bardekjian is a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto. Her research centers on exploring and communicating different stories, views and perceptions (or narratives) of the urban forest with respect to policies, practices and representations, and the social psychology surrounding human behaviour towards sustainable urban green spaces and arboriculture. She is a researcher, writer and educator, and works with a number of organizations on a diversity of projects and initiatives. For more information, please visit: Adrina is screening her trailer for Limbwalkers, an independent documentary that sheds insight into the social complexities of working arboriculture.

Art Exhibit Curator

Catherine Campbell, Art Gallery of Ontario and Montgomery’s Museum

Catherine is formally trained in theatre and visual art and community art practice.  Her art involves performance, storytelling and environmental education. Catherine has a BFA from OCAD University with a major in Criticism and Curatorial Practices and a MES (Masters of Environmental Studies) from York University with a certificate in environmental education. She works for the Art Gallery of Ontario as a studio instructor, educator, tour guide and artist/facilitator and for Montgomery’s Inn museum in education,  historical interpretation and community engagement. Catherine was the lead artist for Arts Access a three-year multilevel community art project that engaged museums with local neighbourhoods. She also was the artist in residence at University Settlement, curating a large project for their 100th year anniversary as well as artist facilitator for the Toronto Neighbourhood Centres (TNC) and presently is the artist in residence for Greenest City.

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