BSS 2020 Art exhibition 

BSS 2020 Art exhibition 

Guest speakers

Dr. Jill Andrew

Dr. Jill Andrew is the Member of Provincial Parliament for Toronto-St. Paul’s and the ONDP Culture Critic. She is an award-winning equity educator, body image advocate, speaker, and writer. As the co-founder of Body Confidence Canada, #SizeismSUCKS and Body Confidence Awareness Week, Andrew advocates ending size and appearance-based discrimination, harassment and bullying throughout the life spectrum. 

 

We are very lucky to have welcomed Dr. Jill Andrew as our first speaker, and for her to have shared her wisdom with us. Below are some quotes from her speech at our opening night: 

 

“A saying that I would like to share is that ‘if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu’. So I can’t say how important for us as women, especially as women and girls, to take up our space unapologetically.”

 

“Let’s explore how cuts to education impacts marginalized communities. Whether we’re talking black communities, indigenous communities first nations metis and Inuit peoples, disabled or differently-abled people, LGBTQ2+ people, we’re talking about folks who have historically and contemporarily been at the margin, and frankly, some of them have been at the margin of the margin. So it’s really important that we have spaces, like this exhibition, to explore what belonging means, and what the phrase of the evening, intersectional feminism, [means].”

 

“Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw, this critical race theorist, lawyer, scholar, activist, she really put in place this notion of intersectional oppression, building on Patricia Hill Collins’ concept of a matrix of oppression. This idea that we can’t just look at women’s lives and think white women. Women aren’t a stand-in for whiteness, and whiteness isn’t a stand-in for femininity. We have to recognize that there are women out there who are black, who are indigenous, who come from various class and socioeconomic background, and when we look at that picture as a whole, then we must ask ourselves what are the everyday experience and oppressions that said woman may feel. What are the systemic experiences or exclusion that said woman feels?”

 

“At the base of feminism, is our fight for equity.”


Personal Website: https://www.jillandrewmpp.ca/

Nadya Kwandibens

Nadya Kwandibens is Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) from the Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation in northwestern Ontario. She is a self-taught portrait and events photographer and has traveled extensively across Canada for over 10 years. In 2008 she founded Red Works Photography. Red Works is a dynamic photography company empowering contemporary Indigenous lifestyles and cultures through photographic essays, features, and portraits.

 

We are thrilled to have Nadya share her experiences and stories with us on stage. She provided us with an insight into the life of an indigenous female artist, which isn’t normally voiced on all types of platforms. 

 

Below is the artist statement that Nadya provided us with for her Red Chair photography series:

 

The Red Chair Sessions represent the reclamation of indigenous spaces, places, and language. As indigenous women, we are intrinsically connected to the land. It embodies our bloodlines and serves as a continuum that conveys a sense of understanding of where we have come from and where we are going.

 

The importance of enforcing positive images of indigenous women is vital, especially for our youth. The media continues to portray us as victims or less than. When our women go missing, the media release often chooses to use a mug shot rather than show us as a mother, a sister, a niece, an aunt, or a grandmother.

 

By reclaiming our own representation, we are disrupting colonial narratives and negative stereotypes. It also helps us inform the next generation, allowing them to witness our strength and resiliency.

 

The Red Chair symbolizes that we are not just one thing, but many. This series is about our people and our stories that are intrinsically and inherently connected to the land upon which we all reside. The chair represents an extension of self, of being rooted to the ground of our ancestors. The Red Chair honours and recognizes us and acts as a reminder, to all, that we are still here.

RedWorks Website:https://www.redworks.ca/info/

student speakers

Nevaeh Li

Nevaeh Li is a grade 11 student at the Bishop Strachan school. Her digital collage “Heard” highlights the role of men and their experience in the feminist movement. She specifically spoke about a case of misusing the righteous power of #MeToo concerning Johny Depp and his wife Amber Heard.

 

Below is Nevaeh’s artist statement:

 

#MeToo had been one of the largest feminism movements since 2006, yet there are still people who misuse the hashtag for purposes of gaining fame or political ground. I have been a fan of Johnny Depp since 2017 - right around the time he was accused by Amber Heard for domestic violence. By relying on the #MeToo hashtag, she had gained support from the society and directly impacted Mr. Depp's career, including expulsion from the Pirates of The Caribbean cast. Yet abundant evidence over the past four years had proven Mr. Depp to be the true victim - a recent audio of Ms. Heard herself admitting her abuses was also released. #MeToo is a meaningful movement that provides the real victims the courage to gain their voice and speak up, and not a tool for people to gain personal advantages or falsely accuse others; this artwork theme is Feminism for the Misrepresented.

Frances Clark

Frances Clark is a grade 12 student at the St. Mildred's Lightbourn School. Her photography series “Exploring Self-Expression” highly values the individual characteristics of each model and depicts the self-identity of each and of them.     

 

Below is Frances’ artist statement:

 

Feminism to me is self-expression, whether that be through art, words, or activism. It is showing the world that the idea of femininity is diverse, and cannot be shoved in a pre-fabricated box labelled “a woman”. Through photography, I explore this self-expression. 

 

Neglecting a person’s self-identity is stripping away who they truly are, which goes against my values as a photographer. Before every photoshoot, I carefully plan the outfit and location of my model based on their personality and their unique identity. Making a photograph involves both the model and the photographer, and thus communicating with my models is extremely important to me: I want them to feel comfortable, and I highly value their input. 

 

I have compiled photographs from two of my favourite photoshoots. The first explores culture, and the colours that fill the world. I was inspired by Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, but I wanted a cultural twist. My model, Aïcha, is one of the most compassionate people I know. I love her decisiveness; I value her friendship. The other photoshoot explores self-expression and the boldness of the feminist movement. Kate, my model, is another one of my good friends. Before this shoot she texted me, “I want to do drag or goth makeup”, and I knew she had a plan so I readily agreed. It was one of the moodiest photoshoots I’ve ever done and I am so grateful for her creativity and her boldness. 

 

Feminism is not just about women, and it certainly isn’t about one type of woman. The feminist movement comprises all of us, and our unique identities, and that’s what I want to capture.

Emma Abray

Emma Abray is a grade 10 student at the Bishop Strachan School. Her digital illustration series “Untitled” celebrates the diversity of women’s intersectional identities, featuring and empowering those who are often neglected in the discussion of feminism.   

 

Below is Emma’s artist statement:

 

Intersectionality is the cornerstone of modern feminism. It is the inclusivity of all women into the feminist movement as well as the celebration of culture and diversity. However, many choose to overlook the unique identities of women, brushing them aside to raise up white feminism. They discount women in multiple minority groups, silencing their voices and fostering discrimination within what should be an inclusive and accepting group. With my piece, I attempt to showcase the beauty of diversity in intersectional feminism. As a movement, we should be celebrating all women, including women of colour, Muslim women, Jewish women, LGBTQ+ women, and disabled women, and working towards a truly equal society. However, we must also recognize our bond as women and find unity in our struggles. This unity is represented by the consistent colouring of the clothing and hair of the women featured. In my work, I aim to capture the amazing potential of intersection feminism: bringing together women of all backgrounds and celebrating their differences while creating positive change.

Calia Fernandez

Calia Fernandez is a grade 12 student at the Trafalgar Castle school. Her photography series “Interpretations on Connection” reflected her personal admiration of feminine beauty as well as her wonders around perfectionism in the society.

Below is Calia’s artist statement:

To be frank, I’ve never worked with photography prior to this year. My first love in art has always, and will always, be painting, but I had never expected photography to be such a powerful medium. So when we were given the opportunity to photograph whatever we wanted, I never expected to have an exact goal in mind, one that subconsciously just weaved itself into my critical approach. But when it became clear that this goal was aligned with the female condition, never had something so relevant and influential become clear as day. 

Last, for a media final, I became fascinated with media manipulation, materialism, consumer culture, and imagery. Midway through the process, I had this revelation where I looked up, and just took everyone in. No filter, no expectation, just taking things in as they are. There’s not many things as true as seeing real and pure beauty- empowered beauty, coming from the people, the girls around you. Of course, we appreciate and we admire beauty, but we only focus on it if it's in elevated forms- the media culture demands us to do so. We passively ignore and are unaware of the beauty of the moment. Since then, I have never met or seen someone who is not beautiful in some essential way. But the question is, when did we stop? When did we decide that it was easier to make judgment, to prioritize communication over connection? When did need for materialism surpass our need for understanding?

My main focus with this series was to identify the gap. Pinpoint the moment when society collectively decided, that’s not enough. She’s not enough. Aka, I’m not enough. My next steps were to extensively get an informed perspective on how, and why, this happened. And with this series, I aimed to portray the deterioration of our values to the superficial level, and to show the healing in the aftermath. 

I love Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability, especially in an Oprah interview when she said, Perfectionism doesn’t prevent us from getting hurt, from being untouchable. It prevents us from being seen. Perfectionism strips us of our power. In a culture where society, where women, are constantly pushing themselves to attain more and achieve more, never have we been so hungry for validation and for others to define who we are. So how did we get there-- and more importantly, how can we change the conversation from ‘perfect’ to complete, and fulfilled?


British feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey, known for her theory on the male gaze in visual narrative, coins women in patriarchal society, to be bearers of meaning, not makers of meaning. In this series, these Traf girls that have modelled for me, are certainly the makers of meaning, and the leaders of the future. 
 

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