Migration in all its forms part of Eco Art & Media Festival

The 17th annual Eco Art & Media Festival, presented by the Faculty of Environmental Studies, starts today. This year’s festival explores migration in its many forms including the movement of people and animals across continents and terrain, and the migration of technology, art, politics, language and ideas.

Migration: Shaping and Reshaping continues the long history of the festival, which was first established in 1985 when the Wild Garden Media Centre, based in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, coordinated a multi-day festival to celebrate and share diverse forms of creative expression.

This year’s festival runs from Tuesday March 8 through Friday March 11 and includes music, interactive storytelling, mural painting, art exhibits and the Eco Art & Media Festival’s first Human Library.

Today, award-winning photographer Vincenzo Pietropaolo kicks off the festivities with a talk about his book Harvest Pilgrims, a collection of photography that tells the story of migrant workers who come to work on farms in Canada. Pietropaolo’s presentation takes place at 12:30pm in Room 138 in the Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies (HNES) Building.

Above: Vencenzo Pietropaolo discusses his book Harvest Pilgrims in a 10-minute video. Pietropaola will deliver a special lecture today as part of the Eco Arts & Media Festival.

This event is followed by the Eco Art & Media Festival’s opening night bash. Everyone is invited to celebrate in the ZigZag Gallery on the main floor of HNES from 6 to 8pm. There will be food, visual art and an eclectic array of performances.

On Wednesday, March 9, from noon until 2pm, Umar Shabazz Bey, an indigenous historian and educator from the Imperial Washitaw Nation, will give a talk in 138 HNES on the migrations, advances and monuments of this hemisphere’s ancient indigenous peoples. Then, from 4 to 6pm, independent films made by members of the York community on environmental themes will be screened in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Building.

Right: Gerda Wekerle with a harvest of elderberries from the FES garden

Thursday, March 10 features three events, including the Human Library. From 10:30am to 2:30pm, FES Professor Gerda Wekerle and MES student Naomi Smedbol will be hosting the Art Recycle art sale in the FES Lounge on the first floor of the HNES Building. Proceeds from the art sale will go towards seeds and tools for the FES community garden (see YFile, Aug. 19, 2010). The Human Library will take place from 12:30 to 3:30pm in 140 HNES. The library features “human books” who can be taken out for up to 20 minutes at a time. Human books will engage in conversations with their “borrowers” on ideas and experiences surrounding the theme of migration.

Right: FES Professor Ravi de Costa is one of the “human books” who can be checked out for up to 20 minutes as part of the Eco Arts & Media Festival’s Human Library.

Later in the afternoon, from 4:30 to 5:30pm in 142 HNES, MES student Naja Dyrendom Graugaarrd will lead her interactive storytelling session called Tales of Wander: Stories from the North. Based on three ancient stories that have travelled and migrated with Inuit for thousands of years, through the oral traditions across the Arctic, the event involves audience participation. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own musical instrument so that they can participate in the soundscapes of the story.

The festival closes on Friday, March 11 with the Eco Art & Media Festival Cabaret Night at the Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick Ave., just west of Bloor & Spadina Station). From 8pm until midnight, students and artists engaged in social, political and environmental issues rooted in the festival’s theme of migration will host a night of performative art, storytelling and music.

Other events that are part of this year’s festival include the development of the Creative Migration Open Participation Mural, happening Tuesday to Friday in the Centre for Film & Theatre foyer, and a visual art exhibition in the ZigZag Gallery, located on the main floor of the HNES building. The exhibit runs until April 1.

For more information and a complete schedule, visit the Eco Art & Media Festival website.