On February 11th, 2020, FeMILY's “The Unheard Voices Exhibition” successfully kicked off with a speaker-centered event hosted at the Bishop Strachan School (BSS). This is the second exhibition in FeMILY's annual series of intersectional feminism themed art exhibitions. This year, we welcomed a large audience of well over a hundred participants consisting of parents, teachers, staff, and most importantly students from a myriad of Ontario schools such as BSS, Havergal, Trafalgar, SAC, and more. We wanted to especially thank the #RisingYouth team from TakingItGlobal for making this event happen by offering us a $1500 grant this year! With their generous contribution to the FeMILY Campaign, we were able to invite highly qualified speakers to our opening night, offer a wider range of international artworks, and create a professional exhibition environment. We extend our gratitude to RisingYouth for supporting us!
On the opening night of the exhibition, guests were led by our friendly FeMILY greeters through a red carpet aisle to arrive at the lower theatre. The night was divided up into two sections: one in the lower theatre where adult speakers and performers presented their pieces, and one in the general exhibit place where the four student speakers offered their refreshing perspectives. In the first section of the night, we heard from MPP Dr. Jill Andrew and indigenous speaker Nadya Kwandibens (more information about the speakers can be found here). We also applauded a dance choreography performed by Samatha Leung about body positivity in the dance industry, and were presented two music duets from Yoyo Jiang (flute), and Rose Wang and Emily Hu (piano) in which they recognized the contributions of female composers, who are often unheard in the classical music industry.
Similar to last year, most of the exhibit artworks were displayed in the new building area of BSS, providing guests with a great visual experience throughout the whole exhibition. The exhibit was divided into a greeting area, a refreshment station, a 3D art presentation area, a projected photography series room, and the general exhibit space. Here, each student speaker had their own designated artwork area surrounding the central staircase, where the audience could choose to sit or stand while listening to their speeches. A variety of art forms were displayed in the exhibition, including digital art, photography, sculpture, installations, music, and more. Last but not least, our refreshment station consisting of desserts and beverages were highly praised by our guests.
This exhibition was greatly praised within our community, and below are some of the comments we received!
I love this event! Such a positive and empowering environment, and well organized by BSS. The artists' exhibition gives all of us a chance to celebrate and cultivate our individuality, our strengths, and most importantly, our connectedness. Often we forget the power of connection, and we were definitely able to talk with girls from all over, to gain understanding and appreciation for all of our unique abilities. For anyone who hasn't had a taste the immutable power of sisterhood, join in on this event.
- Calia Fernandez, Student of Trafalgar Castle School
I so appreciated how all the performance and exhibits echoed the strong theme that you inspired, and all the students presented with the seriousness the theme deserves. Congratulations! You must be very proud and happy. This is an important event in the BSS calendar and we are glad that you made it all happen.
- Dr. Terpstra, Head Principal of The Bishop Strachan School
I would like to add my congratulations for a fabulous exhibition and a wonderful opening. The speakers were so engaging and the event was planned perfectly to the last detail. Thank you for bringing FeMILY to BSS, in just two years it's become an important cultural event in our calendar.
- Mr. Lea, Senior School Principal of The Bishop Strachan School
You all tackled such powerful questions of representation, identity, feminism and positionality through your art and your dedication to the work came through each of your pieces! Bravo!
- Dr. Jill Andrew, Member of Provincial Parliament for Toronto-St. Paul’s and the ONDP Culture Critic
The Unheard Voices Art Exhibit in itself is a unique opportunity, giving students the opportunity to take off their own rose-coloured glass and to look into the lens of a young artist’s connection with feminism. I enjoyed the wide variety of artistic mediums used by the students and the expansive use of the existing ones as well as it made different use of materials to display their connection to the given feminist-related prompts. The two-piece canvases or four-part prints were incredibly creative and the inclusion of these diverse styles made the gallery interesting and fresh which allowed me to browse them the entire night. I was also surprised by the international submissions and I was seriously impressed so I hope that FeMILY will see more of those in the future! What I do hope to see at next year’s exhibit would be the option to exclude an artist’s statement as this leaves room for interpretation and imagination in the pieces displayed. Overall, this year’s exhibit was an incredible success, well done!
- Leila Koohi, Havergal College (Grade 12)
I came to the exhibition with my grandma who grew up in an extremely conservative environment in Azerbaijan. She’s never heard of “feminism”, yet she was so excited explore the artwork at FeMILY and learn from women of all experiences and backgrounds. I started imagining the paintings from her perspective. The great thing about FeMILY is that we are able to learn from each other and celebrate our diverse perspectives.
- Alara Karahan, Havergal College