York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) is inviting students, alumni, faculty, staff and members of the community to the 26th annual Eco-Arts & Media Festival taking place from March 2 to 5.
This year’s festival takes up an expansive theme of “Pollination,” including the biocultural importance of pollinators to the ecosystem and recognizing pollination in terms of the exchange of knowledge and ideas. This theme invites facilitated conversations across disciplines, to create writing, performances, workshops and artworks that consider pedagogical, environmental and artistic approaches to the concepts of exchange, care, trade and sharing. The artists, scientists, students and academics participating in the festival will expand on how speaking across disciplines and exchanging ideas creates new ways to consider issues of colonialism, land rights, environmental degradation and the ongoing effects of climate change.
The festival kicks off on March 2 with a Lunch-time-Launch beginning at 11 a.m. in the Health Nursing and Environmental Studies building (HNES) lounge at the Keele Campus. The launch, co-hosted by FES and the Bachelor of Environmental Studies Student Association, will feature snacks, music, performances and opportunities to learn about different forms of cross-pollination happening around campus. At 12:30 p.m. attendees will have the chance to participate in a collaborative drawing activity.
The first day of the festival will also mark the beginning of an ongoing multimedia installation, titled Son, created by Juanita Stephen, a child and youth worker, mother to a 16-year-old son, and York PhD student in Gender, Feminist and Women’s studies. Son explores all that Black parents navigate as they care for Black sons, highlighting the dynamic interplay of Black love, fear, joy, rage and hope by setting the words of other Black parents alongside a note to Stephen’s own son. The installation will appear in the Crossroads Gallery (HNES Room 263).
The festival’s second day will commence at 10 a.m. in HNES Room 201 with a community arts activity that reflects on recent climate crisis events and invites personal and poetic responses. The day will also include a lunch performance by Zoe Parco at 11:30 a.m. in HNES Room 201, followed by a dance and theatre performance by Arpita Bajpeyi, a PhD student in Dance Studies at and a graduate research associate at the York Centre for Asian Research. Titled Paar Chaana De (Across the Chenab River), Bajpeyi’s performance weaves together tales of (non-)belonging and migrations, telling a story of three women who find themselves perpetually caught in crossings, unable to reach their destinations, and faced with a choice. The performance starts at 2:30 p.m. in HNES Room 140.
The third day of the festival will begin with a community art activity at 11:30 a.m. in HNES Room 140 featuring Young Indigenous Women’s Utopia, a collective of Indigenous women from Saskatoon who will join the FES “Community Arts for Social Change” class to develop an activity centered in the creation of ribbon skirt/pants. That evening, an Eco-Arts Cabaret will be held at 7 p.m. at the Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick Ave, Toronto).
The final day is sure to leave festival attendees buzzing, starting with a panel discussing a range of bee pollinators through the lens of ecology, art and culture. The “Pollinating Wisdom” panel, beginning at 1 p.m. in HNES Room 140, will feature Sheila Colla, principal investigator at the Native Pollinator Research Lab at York, Charmaine Lurch, a Toronto-based painter, sculptor and installation artist known for her work surrounding Black histories and environmental issues, and Sabrina Malach, a pollinator protector, beekeeper and director of engagement at Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs.
The day will continue with “Sonic Corridors,” an experiential and participatory sound tour that invites attendees to walk to various audio installations in the HNES building, starting in Room 201 at 3:30 p.m., and a participatory laboratory performance by Sarah Magni in the Wild Garden Media Centre (HNES Room 268) also at 3:30 p.m. and again at 4:30 p.m. Magni’s work, which invites audience participation, was produced in the FES course “Cultural Production: Performance.” The festival will conclude with Build a Bee Workshop presented by Charmaine Lurch at 5:30 p.m. in HNES room 102.