The Art Gallery of York University sweeps provincial awards

Michael Maranda and Suzanne Carte accepting one of the awards for the AGYU during the OAAG gala

An awards ceremony recognizing excellence in art exhibits, publications, public programs and writing in the public gallery sector in Ontario yielded four awards and one honourable mention for the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU), more than any of the other recipients.

During a gala awards reception on Nov. 27, the Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG) recognized the “outstanding achievement, artistic merit and excellence” in public gallery arts institutions. The annual awards are the only juried, peer-assessed awards of their kind, and they received submissions from 17 cities across the province resulting in more than 125 nominees.

“The AGYU is honoured to win these awards, which shows that public-university galleries can seamlessly integrate all of our stakeholders and community members into single projects that engage and inspire the faculty, staff and students of the University, as well as contemporary artists, locally and internationally,” said Emelie Chhangur, assistant director/curator, AGYU.

The 40th anniversary of the OAAG Awards Gala recognized the AGYU with the following awards:

Curatorial writing awards
Major Text over 5,000 Words – Emelie Chhangur
Paving it Forth

• Jury comments: Art Gallery of York University, Emelie Chhangur, Paving it Forth, creatively and expressively documents Marlon Griffith’s Ring of Fire Procession from its inception as an idea into a process of collaboration with diverse communities, including First Nations and a variety of underserved neighbourhoods, to cumulative effect. Chhangur’s text illuminated the significant role of art in social change. The collective act of performative action and mixed traditions transformed into advocacy for disability rights and a call for the Parapan American Games. The interaction, meetings, communications and symbolic regalia are profusely reflected in the gallery exhibition and its publication.

Griffith’s Ring of Fire was created when he was the 2015 Louis Odette Sculptor-in-Residence in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) at York University, and many AMPD students contributed to the show.

A photo taken during the Ring of Fire Procession

Public Program Award
Creative Campaigning – Sameer Farooq
Behind the Eyes

• This was one of the AGYU’s long-term student engagement projects conceived by Assistant Curator Suzanne Carte. The project was produced as a collaboration between Toronto visual artist and designer Sameer Farooq, the Sherman Health Sciences Research Centre at York (with Diana Gorbet and MRI technologist Joy Williams), the School of Social Work in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, the Department of Film & Video (AMPD) and eight student leaders from the York Federation of Students (YFS), the York United Black Students’ Alliance (YUBSA), Active Minds, and the Visual Art Student Association (VASA). This eight-month engagement was an experimental research-as-performance project that examined the individual as a moving image archive, literally peering into the brain to discover and recover hidden images.

Work during Behind the Eyes

Design Awards
Art Book – Black Dog Publishing & AGYU
Marlon Griffith: Symbols of Endurance

• This is the first monograph on the work of Trinidadian artist Marlon Griffith. Funded by the Partners in Art and co-published with Black Dog in London, U.K., the book extensively documented AGYU’s two-year Ring of Fire Procession, as well as the exhibition Symbols of Endurance that Chhangur curated at AGYU in the fall of 2015.

An image from the Ring of Fire Procession

Exhibition awards
First Exhibition in a Public Art Gallery – Megan Toye
After great pain, a formal feeling comes…

• This is the second time the AGYU has won this award for its Curatorial Intensive exhibitions, a collaborative program of experiential education with AMPD. The AGYU supports and pays for a young curator for two semesters, mentoring them on curating an exhibition from conception to production. This exhibition was curated by York master’s student Megan Toye and featured York University student artists from AMPD’s graduate program. This program satisfies placement credit course for the Curatorial Diploma program in Visual Art and Art History.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes…

Art Writing Award
Honourable Mention – Gabriel Levine
On Splendour, in the publication Marlon Griffith: Symbols of Endurance

• One of the commissioned essays in AGYU’s Marlon Griffith publication by artist, musician, academic and York U alumni Gabriel Levine. Levine received his PhD from York in social and political thought.

“We are especially proud to have been recognized by our peers in the contemporary art community of Ontario for these particular projects because this recognition points to the AGYU’s innovative approach to integrated programming on a variety of scales: books, public programs, experiential education and writing,” said Chhangur.

The AGYU is the most awarded gallery in Ontario.