Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
One of Canada’s best-known shopping malls now features a free public art exhibit, which includes the work of seven Indigenous artists.
The Celebrate the Colours of Indigenous Art segment is one of five components at the Canadian Chroma exhibit. It’s located inside the CF (Cadillac Fairview) Toronto Eaton Centre.
The official launch of the exhibit, located in the mall space previously occupied by Nordstrom, was held on Oct 25.
“We’re just really excited to be able to offer an incredible experience to our visitors and connect with the community while our leasing continues to ready the space for our next retail client,” said Andrea Nickel, the senior director of experience and engagement at Cadillac Fairview.
The exhibit will be on display daily during regular mall hours until at least next spring while CF seeks a new rental client for the space.
Nickel felt it was vital to include an Indigenous component in Canadian Chroma.
“Any time we’re talking about a celebration of Canada, the Indigenous stories and culture is an integral part of what we’re talking about here,” she said. “And it was very important for us to amplify those voices and showcase it through art.”
A company called MASSIVart was asked to curate the Indigenous component.
“We wanted to find a diverse group of Indigenous artists across Canada to represent different areas, but also different styles of art,” said Alex Costello, MASSIVart’s project manager.
The seven Indigenous artists chosen to showcase their work are Mariah Meawasige, Kaya Joan, Aeden Corey, Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley, Emily Kewageshig, (Kwulasultun) Eliot White-Hill and Casey Koyczan. And their work all connects to each other within the exhibit.
Their art is displayed on seven individual interactive screens. A viewer can see one piece across all the screens or choose different art on each screen and still all the art connects with each other.
“We really encouraged each artist to do whatever they liked, to really play with the foreground items, so some of them you’ll see have houses, some of them have fish and the next one will have whales," Costello said. "So, they could really play and do what they liked with it and really make it their own.”
Costello said MASSIVart had an existing relationship with many Indigenous artists.
“I think it’s really important that we acknowledge the different Nations of our country and from different areas. And this is something actually that we really excel with MASSIVart,” Costello said.
“We really like to work with all kinds of artists, but especially Indigenous artists and bring their viewpoints and their stories forward.”
And now seven Indigenous artists featured in Canadian Chroma will have their work on display in an area that is prominent in the landmark mall.
“We create a platform that allows them to show what they do in really creative different ways,” Costello said. “This is going to be open to the public for months. These are artists that might not have received that viewership in any other context. They’re not necessarily in galleries. They’re using social media or doing it themselves. So, this is an amazing platform for them to be able to launch on.”
Sheila Jennings, the general manager of the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, also felt it was important for the exhibit to include an Indigenous component.
“We believe as part of our diversity platform, and certainly being here as part of a very diverse community, that it was important to be able to showcase Indigenous art and to be able to spend some time having our public engage with the different artists, to be able to understand their work,” she said.
And Jennings is also extremely thrilled with the final product of Canadian Chroma.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” she said. “It is a beautiful, immersive, interactive experience. We’ve had some phenomenal feedback from some of our guests and certainly our clients. So, it’s been a win-win. And we’re really hoping to see more of the community in and around CF Toronto Eaton Centre take time to participate.”
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