The 14th Annual Eco-Art & Media Festival kicks off today

Energetic performances, engaging participatory workshops, fun community day events and exciting exhibits will show off York University’s talent at the 14th annual Eco-Art & Media Festival. The festival begins today and continues to March 9.

Every spring since 1995, the Wild Garden Media Centre based in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University coordinates the Eco Art & Media Festival, a multi-day festival to celebrate and share diverse forms of creative expression. As a campus-wide and community event, the Eco-Art & Media Festival is co-sponsored with other York University Faculties and departments, as well as community organizations that share the vision of community art for education and social change. This year’s theme is On the Horizon: Re-imagining Reality

The theme examines the global dilemma of climate change. While information about the increasing severity of global environmental instability has been circulating for decades, the issue has only very recently caught the attention of the general public. Different perspectives offer diverse views of the horizon and visions of what the future might have in store for humanity. This year’s festival will explore the power we possess to steer the planet toward deeper destruction or conversely toward radical revival. Human consciousness seems to be channelling toward a sustainable future for life on earth.

Festival organizers are committed to creating a sustainable festival and every effort has been made to minimize the environmental impact of its planning and execution. All events are free and open to members of the York community.

  • "In Our Hands: Community-based Media" takes place today, from 12:30 to 2:20pm, in Room 103, Accolade West Building on the Keele campus. Digital storytelling and new media can be harnessed when tools of production are placed in the hands of citizens. This event will feature presentations and dialogue about two exciting community media projects: the Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre, with Adonis Huggins and participants in the youth-led community television, radio and Catch Da Flava publication, and the Story Project of Central Neighbourhood House with media artists Jennifer LaFontaine and Camille Turner, together with participants in a digital storytelling project with immigrant women. This event is co-sponsored by the Community Arts Practice Program of the Faculties of Environmental Studies and Fine Arts, the Faculty of Education and the Community Development Fund of the Office of the Vice-President Academic.
  • Tonight, the Eco-Art & Media Festival presents its opening night celebrations. Join festival participants for a gala event, from 5:30 to 8pm, in the Zig Zag Gallery (FES Lounge), 018 HNES Building. Eat, drink and explore some of the artistic works of the York University community. The evening will feature performances by students, staff and faculty and the unveiling of the festival’s visual art exhibit.
  • Wednesday, from 10am to 12pm, join a special workshop that examines the concept of migration, settlement and manual labour. The "Weaving Together Contradictions" workshop takes place in the FES Lounge, 018 Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies (HNES) Building on York’s Keele campus. Informed by an FES student’s participation in ENVS 6349 Cultural Production Workshop: Image, this event explores the concepts of migration, settlement, manual labour, and the stories that emerge from these experiences. MES student Helen Thang invites participants to join her in the weaving of a quilt made from recycled materials. The making of the quilt calls attention to and prioritizes notions of the handmade through a process that emulates the repetition and dexterity that is often required of industrial manual labour. Thang hopes to create a space that allows participants to discuss their own personal experiences, feelings, stories or family histories as they relate to migration, settlement and manual labour.
  • Join Catherine Carpenko, Wednesday, from 1 to 2pm, HNES 141. Carpenko is an organic farmer, beekeeper, and the host of the Wild Rose Farm Artist Retreat located in Mulmur Hills, just one hour north of Toronto. This workshop and presentation will give participants a chance to learn about Wild Rose Farm, as well as taste some of the fruits of the land. To learn more, e-mail
  • Also on Wednesday, the Eco-Art & Media Festival presents a film and video Screening, from 3:30 to 6pm, in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102, Ross Building on the Keele campus. The screening offers a collection of short film and video projects, along with works in progress, by participants in the activist video course. This year’s feature presentation is by Professor Brenda Longellow, Chair of York’s Department of Film. Longfellow presents her film Weather Report with Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki. The film takes the viewer on a journey to the front lines of climate change including the Canadian Arctic, Montana, Northern Kenya, China and India. The film documents the communities and ordinary people whose lives and livelihoods are being impacted in the most dramatic ways. For more information about the film visit the Weather Report Web page on the National Film Board Web site.
  • Later on Wednesday, organizers present "Moving Through – An Evening of Dance", at 7:30pm, in the McLean Performance Studio, Room 244, Accolade East Building. The evening offers a series of dance performances that explore relationships between people and elements of the natural world. Featuring Shannon Elliott’s MA project, "Coastal Shifts," with guest choreographers Sara Burgess, Andreah Barker, and Zita Nyarady.
  • On Thursday, March 6, from 11am to 1pm, the Eco-Arts & Media Festival presents "Airing the Dirty Laundry: Student Action for a Sweat-Free York". The event takes place in the FES Lounge, 018, HNES Building. Organizers invite everyone to bring their old clothes and participate in a drop-in workshop, hosted by the Sustainable Purchasing Coalition and the Maquila Solidarity Network. Following the workshop, there will be a No-Sweat rally at Vari Hall.
  • Thursday afternoon, from 12:30 to 2pm in Room 141, HNES Building, festival organizers present "Documenting Arts Practices: Lessons From the VIVA Project". This screening and discussion will focus on the challenges of documenting our own art practices. The event draws on the collaborative video documentation undertaken during the VIVA project, a transnational exchange between community artists and educators. It will be hosted by York FES Professor Deborah Barndt and York FES doctoral student Maggie Hutcheson.
  • Also on Thursday, there will be another film and video screening, from 2:30 to 5pm at the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102, Ross Building. Join participants for an afternoon of eclectic films which reflect on the myriad of personal relationships (historical, personal and spiritual) that we have with our natural and built environments. The works screened run the gamut from poetic introspection, to light-hearted satire, and all raise questions about our perceptions and self-location in the world.
  • The role of artists and designers in creating sustainable, productive, healthy and engaging learning spaces for the 21st century will be explored in a participatory visualization session, using the HNES Green Retrofit as a case study.The workshop and round table discussion, titled The "On Ecological Design: the Next Generation", will be held on Friday, March 7, from 12 to 3pm, in Room 140, HNES Building.
  • On Friday evening, festival organizers present the ever-popular Cabaret Night, from 8pm to 1am, at the Toronto Australia New Zealand Club (Tranzac Club), 292 Brunswick Avenue (south of Bloor, between Bathurst & Spadina). The Tranzac Club is a non-profit member-supported community organization with a focus on promoting arts, music and theatre.
  • On Sunday, March 9, the Eco-Art & Media Festival wraps up for another year with a community event, "Second Helping: Connecting to Community through Foodshare". This food-focused event takes place at FoodShare, 90 Croatia Street, Toronto (near Bloor & Dufferin). Join FES students, staff and faculty for a bowl of fresh soup and bread. Participate in fun food-related, family-friendly activities including foodie talk and performances, food making and eating at FoodShare’s brand new home. This event runs from noon to 3pm and is hosted by FES PhD candidate Luna Ramkhalawansingh.

For more information on the Eco-Art & Media Festival, contact festival coordinators Jess Woods or Andrew Walker, at 416-736-2100, ext. 30533, or e-mail

The Eco-Art & Media Festival is sponsored by York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies; Joint Graduate Program in Communication and Culture; Faculty of Fine Arts; Cold Beverage Agreement; the Graduate Environmental Studies Student Association; Office of the Vice-President Academic; FoodShare; and Jack Flash Signs.