AGYU online event to consider role of public art

Schulich will soon be launching its Business Excellence Academy, a business education and mentorship program supporting 60 Black and Indigenous Ontario high school students this summer.

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) will present “Permanence/Impermanence: The Life of Public Art” on May 4 at 1 p.m, an online conversation featuring prominent global artists discussing the challenges and importance of public art.

The conversation is part of The Uncontainable Collections Research Project presented by AGYU, an annual workshop series initiated in 2022 to make York University’s art collection more accessible to the public and for research purposes.

In the spirit of accessibility, this iteration of the workshop was produced collaboratively by AGYU staff Allyson Adley, Liz Ikiriko and Jenifer Papararo, as well as faculty and students in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design.

The preliminary interview questions were developed with York University graduate class, ARTH 6000, led by Professor Anna Hudson, and will be addressed to the participants who are prominent artists and curators whose work critically engages with notions of “publicness” as it relates to “public art,” “the public sphere,” “public space” and “publics.” They include: Allison Glenn (United States), Vanessa Kwan (Canada), Mohammed Laouli (France, Germany, and Morocco) and Raqs Media Collective (India).

During the online conversation, each participant will give a 10-minute overview of their research and practice before joining a collective conversation that uses public art to counter codified notions of public space. In preparation for this live discussion, pre-interviews with each of the participants will be conducted, addressing the principles and ideals of democracy in how public space is inhabited; how decolonial acts of resistance de-centre monuments that glorify settler-colonial histories; what role communities can play in the commissioning of public art; and the limitations and risks of working in public spaces. Transcripts of these interviews will be available on the AGYU website on April 28.

This iteration of the workshop intends to activate, question and learn from involved arts practitioners discussing public art as a form of inspiration, as community engagement, and as a marker of time and place.

Those who wish to find more information or register, can do so here.

AGYU curator awarded research fellowship

FEATURED image of Felicia Mings AGYU

Felicia Mings, curator at the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU), has received a prestigious Curatorial Research Fellowship from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Image shows Felicia Mings, curator at the Art Gallery of York University
Felicia Mings

Over the next year, Mings will embark on a new research project focusing on the work of influential Guyanese artist, anthropologist and novelist Denis Williams (1923-98). The project will examine the international significance of Williams’ practice through an analysis of the artist’s illustrative works and their relationships to African and Caribbean literature. Digging deep into Williams’ collaborations with writers and publishers and the material nature and circulation of his works on paper, the project will consider the artist’s contributions to discourses on modernism. Working with numerous public and private archives, scholars, and conservators, Mings will be developing a future exhibition.

As curator at the AGYU, Mings focuses on interpreting and presenting modern and contemporary art of Africa, the Caribbean, and their diasporas. Prior to joining the AGYU, Mings held the position of academic curator in the Research Center at the Art Institute of Chicago. Highlights of her Art Institute of Chicago tenure include leading the Andrew W. Mellon Summer Academy and Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program, co-curating the exhibitions, and co-editing the accompanying catalogues for Malangatana: Mozambique Modern (2020) and The People Shall Govern! Medu Art Ensemble and the Anti-Apartheid Poster (2019). 

Mings holds a master of arts in visual and critical studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a bachelor of arts from the University of Toronto and Sheridan College.   

More about the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts  

In accordance with Andy Warhol’s will, the mission of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is the advancement of the visual arts. The foundation manages an innovative and flexible grants program while also preserving Warhol’s legacy through creative and responsible licensing policies and extensive scholarly research for ongoing catalogue raisonné projects. To date, the foundation has nearly $280 million in cash grants to more than 1,000 arts organizations in 49 states and abroad and has donated 52,786 works of art to 322 institutions worldwide. 

‘Meleko Mokgosi: Imaging Imaginations’ debuts Jan. 20 at the Art Gallery of York University

Featured image for YFile duplicates headline text highlights dates Jan. 20 to June 23 and opening reception Jan. 19 from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) presents artist Meleko Mokgosi’s first solo exhibition in Canada, Meleko Mokgosi: Imaging Imaginations.

On view from Jan. 20 to June 10, this exhibition debuts a new body of paintings and prints by Mokgosi that examine the role that images play in how we form perceptions of ourselves and others, within both our psychic realities and our lived experiences in the material world.

Mokgosi is well known for his imposing and vivid multi-panel paintings that feature hyper-realistic depictions of Black figures within narrative scenes that prompt us to question the ethics of democracy, structures of power and forms of knowledge. The artist’s penchant for employing cinematic framing and panoramic modes of display, his skillful brush strokes and his sensitive rendering of skin tones, endows his art with a seductive allure that captivates audiences. Mokgosi’s art often subverts conventions of European history painting — a genre popularized in the 15th century devoted to Eurocentric narratives of history, mythology, and religion — by privileging the depiction of daily life in Southern Africa and narratives of African and Black diasporic histories.

The success of Mokgosi’s art is also owed to his pedagogical approach to making. The artist’s attention to Black figures in domestic interiors, abstracted outdoor spaces, and imagined locations is always with an intent to explore a historical or theoretical concept most visibly signaled by his inclusion of vernacular materials such as anti-apartheid posters, photos of political figures and decorative objects that are specific to his generation coming of age in southern Africa. Mokgosi is dedicated to a project-based research practice that entails a long-term engagement with critical theory, post-colonial studies and the material cultures of liberation in contemporary Black life.

Mokgosi’s current and ongoing project is titled Spaces of Subjection. Within this growing body of work, he examines the complexities of subjecthood and the politics of identity and identification. Drawing from French philosopher Michel Foucault’s thinking, Mokgosi’s project considers questions of self-fashioning and self-determination within different physical spaces, cultural and national locations, and stages of maturation. The artworks created to debut at the AGYU query the role of images as societal forces that inform our sense of self and relation to others, or, in other words, subjecthood.

Meleko Mokgosi: Imaging Imaginations is curated by AGYU Curator Felicia Mings. The exhibition will be accompanied by an opening celebration and dialogue with the artist on Jan.19, from 6 to 9 pm. Parallel programs inspired by the exhibition also include a children’s story time, a conversation between the artist and master printer Brian Shure, gallery talks lead by esteemed York University faculty and staff, and an evening of poetry. For more information on these programs visit: https:/

More about Meleko Mokgosi

Meleko Mokgosi (1981) is a Botswanan-born US-based artist and educator. He is associate professor at the Yale University’s School of Art and co-founder of The Interdisciplinary Art and Theory Program in New York City. He received his MFA from the Interdisciplinary Studio Program at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011 and received a BA from Williams College in 2007. Mokgosi has participated in numerous residencies such as the Rauschenberg Residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Captiva, FL (2015); Artist in Residence Program at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (2012); and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program, New York (2007). He has exhibited widely in both group and solo exhibitions, his most recent solo exhibitions including Currents 122: Meleko Mokgosi, Saint Louis Art Museum, MO (2022–2023); Pan-African Pulp, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MI (2019–2022); Scripto-visual, The Current, Stowe, VT (2021);and Your Trip to Africa, Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL (2020–2021).

The Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation is the presenting sponsor for Meleko Mokgosi: Imaging Imaginations.

The AGYU is a public, university-affiliated, non-profit contemporary art gallery supported by York University, the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council.

From streams to stars: York’s Nuit Blanche exhibit lights up Keele Campus

Nuit Blanche at York University - photo by William Meijer

The event featured 34 artists and showcased 19 projects located around the central core of the Keele Campus beginning 7 p.m. on Oct. 1 and ending 7 a.m. on Oct. 2.

A collective of York University organizations and faculty presented this multi-experiential program. The title Streams~ identifies shared commonalities between this concatenation of projects that translate and show us how elements in nature are contained and controlled; planted and extracted; forged and processed; displaced and discarded.

For more information on participants, curators and their contributions to the program, see this YFile story. Scroll through the gallery below to see photos from the event.

Nuit Blanche at AGYU, York University

Streams~ Nuit Blanche 2022 at York University was coordinated by the Art Gallery of York University led by Clara Halpern, assistant curator, and Jenifer Papararo, director/ curator with support from Mallory Silver, events and communications coordinator and Shawna Teper, assistant director, government and community relations at York University.

Archive/Counter-Archive projects curated by Janine Marchessault and produced by Asad Raza. Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology program is curated by Joel Ong.

Nuit Blanche comes to York University’s Keele Campus

Mu Cephei, 2021. Image Credit: June Parsons, Allan I Carswell Observatory

On Saturday, Oct. 1, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., a collective of York University organizations and faculty present this multi-experiential program, including a public conversation with Dele Adeyemo and Nehal El-Hadi; live music performances by Exmiranda, Sydanie, and Keysha Freshh; immersive video projections by Jennifer Dysart, Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Chris Chong Chan Fui, Gayil Nalls; AR and VR interventions by Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Mary Bunch, Jenn E. Norton, and Michael Palumbo; and sculptural, sonic and video installations by Holly Ward, Lou Sheppard, Michaela Pňačeková, Deirdre Logue, and Jawa El Khash; and more.

The title Streams~ identifies shared commonalities between this concatenation of projects that translate and show us how elements in nature are contained and controlled; planted and extracted; forged and processed; displaced and discarded. Many of the works included in the evenings program examine how we occupy and interact with environmental ecologies from streams to stars as both subject and medium while others revamp and redirect streams of thought by scrutinizing how histories are conveyed, disseminated, and preserved; all share a social position that uses art to both disrupt and restore how we share the continuous flow of our experiences and knowledge. Streams~ are land, people, and consciousness. They can also be endless.

The AGYU shares the work of an esteemed group of artists and curators in alignment with the artistic vision for Nuit Blanche 2022 by University of Winnipeg Associate Professor of Visual Arts, Julie Nagam, (Métis/German/Syrian), who is the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Collaboration and Digital Media and the director of Aabijijiwan New Media Lab at the University of Winnipeg, which follows her “The Space Between Us,” an extensive research project addressing the complex social dynamics of diasporic communities commingling as a whole “to build new spaces and families, shifting their relationships and connections to each other and to place.”

Participating artists and curators
Dele Adeyemo • Mariel Belanger • Roberta Buiani • Mary Bunch • Dave Colangelo • Nina Czegledy • Patricio Davila • Lorella Di Cintio • Jennifer Dysart • Nehal El-Hadi • Jawa El Khash • Exmiranda • Kavi • Keysha Freshh • Chris Chong Chan Fui • John Greyson • Karina Iskandarsjah • Lou Sheppard • Lydia Johnson • Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning • Jean-Pierre Marchant • Janine Marchessault • Immony Menn • Agnes Meyer-Brandis • Lisa Myers • Gayil Nalls • Hodari Newtown • Jenn E. Norton • Joel Ong • Michael Palumbo • Patricia Pasten • Michaela Pnacekova • Sydanie • Holly Ward • Jay YoungDeirdre LogueGrace Grothaus  • Brian HarrisHrysovalanti MaherasRaewyn Turner  

Program schedule
7 p.m. to 7 a.m. – All installations and exhibitions are open. The majority of programs are located around the central core of York’s Keele Campus surrounding the Harry Arthur Commons and the York University Subway Station.

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.Trans-epistemic Mapping with Dele Adeyemo and Nehal El-Hadi. Location: The Nick Mirkopoulos Screening Room, Accolade East Building (ACE 004). Doors open at 7 p.m.

7 p.m. to midnight – Night sky viewing at the Allan I. Carswell Astronomical Observatory. Location: Petrie Science and Engineering Building, third floor.

11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.Vanguard Voices in Hip Hop featuring Exmiranda, Sydanie & Keysha Freshh. Location: The Harry Arthurs Commons (across from Vari Hall).

A booklet and map will be produced by AGYU and distributed throughout the evening. The majority of sites are wheelchair accessible. For special accommodation, contact Huaihong Li, administrative assistant, AGYU, by email at

Collaborating organizations at York University
Art Gallery of York University
Allan I. Carswell Observatory
Archives of Ontario
Peripheral Visions Lab
Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology
School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD)

Travel to the Keele Campus
The best route is to arrive by TTC using Subway Line 1 to York University Station, which will be running all night. It is wheelchair accessible and close to many of the Nuit Blanche projects. Event parking is available in the York Lanes and Vanier parking lots, payment can be made through the HONK Mobile app.

Streams~ Nuit Blanche 2022 at York University is coordinated by the Art Gallery of York University led by Clara Halpern, assistant curator, and Jenifer Papararo, director/ curator with support from Mallory Silver, events and communications coordinator and Shawna Teper, assistant director, government and community relations at York University.

Archive/Counter-Archive projects curated by Janine Marchessault and produced by Asad Raza. Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology program is curated by Joel Ong.

AMPD celebrates a ‘Year of the Arts’

Year of the Arts featured image for YFile

From September 2022 to May 2023, the York University School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) will host a Year of the Arts to celebrate the power of imagination in creating positive local and global change.

More than 60 scholars, artists, and designers will run 20+ events, including curated installations, exhibits, performances, and presentations, engaging in meaningful dialogue with diverse communities on York University Campuses, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), across Canada, and around the world.

Sarah Bay-Cheng

“With the return of in-person activities and the resurgence of the arts and design in all forms, now is the time to celebrate the Year of the Arts,” says Sarah Bay-Cheng, dean, AMPD. “AMPD is uniquely positioned to lead this exciting endeavor as one of the most comprehensive schools of arts, design and culture in Canada. AMPD is home to leading faculty members, researchers, and creatives; state-of-the-art facilities; and a thriving landscape for experimentation, exploration, and learning.”

Over 15 community partners will help produce the Year of the Arts alongside AMPD, including the Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology led by its Director and AMPD Computational Arts Assistant Professor, Joel Ong. The partnerships range from municipal partners like the City of Toronto and the City of Markham to international institutions like the LAZNIA Centre for Contemporary Arts in Poland.

“Arts-based research is foundational in developing industries, advancing innovation, and creating and sustaining equity across all sectors – not just the entertainment arts & culture industry,” says Ong “With the Year of the Arts, we are bridging the gap between the university and wider society by demonstrating that art, activism, and knowledge are central to creating positive change in communities and society at-large.”

Kicking off a Year of the Arts

AMPD’s Year of the Arts will kick off in time for Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s all-night celebration of contemporary art with a multi-site exhibition, symposium, book launch, and more.  

Sensoria: The Art and Science of Our Senses 

On September 26 with Sensorium’s multi-site exhibition and symposium, Sensoria: The Art and Science of Our Senses, will launch in partnership with LAZNIA Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) in Gdansk, Poland. The project will be held simultaneously in both locations and will include in-depth conversation about the knowledge-creation potential of artists and scientists collaborating in innovative ways. 

Nuit Blanche + RUTAS Symposium: A Home for Our Migrations 

On September 27, Laura Levin, AMPD Associate Dean-Research and six community partners will host “Nuit Blanche + RUTAS Symposium: A Home for Our Migrations,” a series of workshops, installations and talks with leading arts equity scholars and creators concerning the integration between emerging artistic practices and growing migration and environmental crises. Running until October 3, the symposium was developed in collaboration with the City of Toronto, RUTAS Festival and Aluna Theatre and Hemispheric Encounters.  

Book launch for Holding Ground: Nuit Blanche and Other Ruptures 

Also on September 27, AMPD’s Year of the Arts celebrates the book launch of Holding Ground: Nuit Blanche and Other Ruptures, which commemorates the 15-year history of Nuit Blanche through an edited collection of essays and full-colour images by artists, scholars, curators and contributors. Co-edited by AMPD Professor in Cinema & Media Arts, Janine Marchessault, the book brings together historical, contemporary and future-oriented understandings of this large-scale public art event. 

As part of Streams ~ Nuit Blanche 2022 organized by AGYU, AMPD’s Year of the Arts will showcase works examining how art can both disrupt and restore how society shares experiences and knowledge at various sites across the city.  

Included in the installations are All Vows by Design Assistant Professor, Gabi Schaffzin; On, Around and With Water by Visual Arts alumna, Nicole Clouston; Variations on Broken Lines by Nava Messas-Waxman Visual Arts PhD student; Fluid States by Holly Ward, assistant professor in Visual Art & Art History; and Emerging from the Water: Asigi’idiwag (Gather) by Mary Bunch, assistant professor in Cinema & Media Arts. Two curated exhibitions are also included as Year of the Arts contributions – Biophilia : Artist and Archive, and the previously mentioned Sensoria: The Art and Science of Our Senses. 

Held in collaboration with the Archives of Ontario and the AGYU, Biophilia: Artist and Archive is curated by Marchessault, who is also the principal investigator of the Archive/Counter-Archive project. It features six media art works installed across the York University Keele campus.  The event will also see the launch of CineMobilia, a new mobile infrastructure dedicated to digitizing archival moving image material. 

For more information on AMPD’s Year of the Arts and a full list of events, visit