AGYU earns awards for exhibit, education programs

Meleko Mokgosi: Imaging Imaginations
Meleko Mokgosi: Imaging Imaginations

Two awards for the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) recognize the impact of the facility’s programming in both exhibiting art and offering educational opportunities to the community.

The 46th Annual Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries (GOG) Awards, which took place Dec. 2, named the AGYU as the recipient of its Education Award and its Exhibition, Design and Installation Award.

The GOG Awards is the only annual juried awards program of its kind, recognizing the “outstanding achievement, artistic merit and excellence of arts institutions and professionals in the public art gallery sector.”

“It is always encouraging to be acknowledged by your peers. The GOG Awards give those of us working in public art galleries and museums the time to reflect on the work being presented in our field and give due credit to those who are pushing their work in truly engaging and creative ways,” says Jenifer Papararo, director/curator, Art Gallery of York University. “We at AGYU are proud of our colleagues Felicia Mings and Allyson Adley, who both received awards for their unique programs. Adley was awarded for Arts on My Mind, a program she developed in the community to give youth access to develop their crafts by pairing them with professional musicians and poets from the Jane-Finch neighbourhood. Mings, who won for the exhibition design for Meleko Mokgosi: Imaging Imaginations, a curatorial response to space and community that featured a massive, nine-panel figurative painting spanning 16 feet high and over 40 feet in length.”

Read about these exhibits, and how they exemplify excellence in the arts, in this YFile story.

The AGYU was also noted as a partner in the GOG’s First Exhibition in a Public Art Gallery Award, which went to the Art Gallery of Peterborough for the Tim Whiten – Elemental: Earthen exhibit. Whiten is a professor emeritus at York University with a prolific career in the arts.

The AGYU is a socially minded not-for-profit contemporary art gallery that is a space for the creation and appreciation of art and culture. It is a supported unit of York University within the President’s Division. It is externally funded as a public art gallery through the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, local and international foundations, embassies and its membership, who support all of its programs.

Find out more about AGYU programming.

AGYU programs shortlisted for prestigious awards

Exhibition view: Meleko Mokgosi: Imaging Imaginations, 2023. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Two programs offered by the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) have been shortlisted for the 46th Annual Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries (GOG) Awards.

The GOG Awards, which will be announced during a Dec. 2 ceremony, is the only annual juried awards program of its kind, recognizing the “outstanding achievement, artistic merit and excellence of arts institutions and professionals in the public art gallery sector.”

“For more than two decades, the GOG Awards have given the visual arts sector in Ontario a place to acknowledge the value of its role in building and supporting artists and shaping the cultural fabric of daily life by celebrating the pivotal work of public art galleries,” says Jenifer Parpararo, AGYU director/curator. “Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries estimates that 99 per cent of Canadians engage with arts, culture and heritage in some way every year. It is paramount that we come together to celebrate and honour our burgeoning cultural sector and to recognize the hard-working people who break down barriers and reach new horizons with their impactful projects.”

The programs nominated for an award were led by AGYU Curator Felicia Mings and AGYU Education and Community Engagement Coordinator Allyson Adley.

The nominated exhibits and programs are:

Meleko Mokgosi: Imaging Imaginations, which was on view from Jan. 20 to June 10. Curated by Mings, this exhibition is shortlisted for two GOG Awards: Exhibitions of the Year Budget over $50,000 and Exhibition Design & Installation.

Meleko Mokgosi: Imaging Imaginations
Exhibition view: Meleko Mokgosi: Imaging Imaginations, 2023. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

For Imaging Imaginations, Mokgosi’s first solo exhibition in Canada, the artist debuted new works from his series Spaces of Subjection, 2022. Within this growing body of work, Mokgosi examined the complexities of subjecthood and the politics of identity and identification.

“AGYU would like to thank Meleko, Jack Shainman Gallery and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center for helping us realize this exhibition. We want to acknowledge the dedication and support of the entire AGYU team, and especially Clara Halpern, assistant curator, during the run of the show,” said Papararo. “Thank you also to our team of installers – Carmen Schroeder, Uros Jelic, Gray Richards, Nadine Maher, Christian Echeverri, Dave Ronchka and Matthew Koudys – who helped us bring the curatorial vision to life and kept the works safe. And with special thanks to the Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation for their financial support of this exhibition.”

The 2022 edition of Art on my Mind, a series of free songwriting, vocal and performance workshops, is nominated for the Education Award. Presented in partnership with the Black Creek Community Farm, this program was geared towards youth in the Jane-Finch community. It included live performance workshops facilitated by hip-hop powerhouse Dynesti, and songwriting and vocal production workshops with rising R&B and soul singer Kibra.

A workshop session during Art on my Mind.
Art on My Mind workshop with mentors and participants, 2022. Photo: Allyson Adley.
Performance during Art on my Mind
A performance during Art on my Mind showcase, 2022. Photo: Allyson Adley.

Participants were able to enhance performance by developing dynamic stage presence, writing meaningful lyrics and honing their vocal production skills. In addition to receiving personalized performance coaching from experienced artists, selected participants also had a paid opportunity to perform at the AGYU’s end-of-program showcase celebrating the Black Creek Community Farm’s 10-year anniversary on July 23, 2022. This free event featured performances by the program facilitators, Kibra and Dynesti, along with performances by R&B, reggae, dancehall and hip-hop artists Terence Penny, Nicole Chambers, Zenesoul, Mez Mariye and Teepolo.

Art on my Mind also included mural painting workshops with acclaimed visual artists Curtia Wright and Ray Vidal, which culminated in the painting of a shipping container that was transformed into a Black Creek Community Farm landmark.

“We want to acknowledge the support of the AGYU team and 2022 Young Canada Works Communications Assistant Shadio Hussein,” said Papararo. “Art on My Mind would not have been possible without the expertise and dedication of our workshop facilitators and participants, as well as our wonderful partners at Black Creek Community Farm.”

Art on My Mind was funded by the Toronto Art Council through the Animating Toronto Parks program and supported by the Toronto Art Foundation’s Arts in the Parks program.

The AGYU was also noted as a partner in a nomination for the Tim Whiten – Elemental: Earthen exhibition at the Art Gallery of Peterborough for the First Exhibition in a Public Art Gallery award. Whiten is a professor emeritus at York University with a prolific career in the arts.

The GOG Awards ceremony takes place Dec. 2 in the Sears Atrium at Toronto Metropolitan University. To purchase tickets to attend, visit the event page.

New online database makes York’s art collection accessible

Three paintings hung on an orange wall, part of the York University art collection

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) recently announced the official launch of the York University Art Collection Online, a searchable database providing students, scholars and the public with access to York’s valued art collection. This digital resource houses nearly 2,000 artworks by local, national and international artists, spanning a wide range of artistic mediums, including painting, sculpture, prints, photography and new media.

The launch of the online database signifies a milestone in York’s commitment to making its art collection accessible to a broader audience. The user-friendly digital platform allows students, faculty, art historians and art enthusiasts to explore the collection’s holdings.

Jenifer Papararo, director and curator of the AGYU, remarks that “making the University’s collection accessible for research has been an important priority over the last three years and marks a future-oriented vision of art acquisition that is tied not only to building legacy for the University but also with a responsibility to assemble a pedagogical resource.”

Access to the online database is free and open to the public, aligning with the AGYU’s commitment to fostering cultural appreciation and accessibility.

Corresponding with the founding of the University, the York University art collection has played a pivotal role in enriching the academic and cultural experience at York. With the transformation of the AGYU into a publicly funded gallery in the late ’80s, the collection came under the gallery’s supervision and care, and with its transformation into the Joan & Martin Goldfarb Gallery in Fall 2024, the University’s art collection will be further elevated, as the new stand-alone building allows for the transformation of the current gallery space into a visible vault for the art collection, increasing its accessibility and significance within the University’s cultural landscape.

The University’s commitment to collecting and preserving art is reflected in the diverse and eclectic range of artworks found within the collection. In the late 1960s, York University made significant acquisitions, adding pioneering works by Canadian abstractionists to its holdings, including iconic pieces by Montreal-based non-figurative artists such as Guido Molinari, Claude Tousignant and Yves Gaucher. York is also home to an impressive collection of over 300 Inuit prints and stone carvings produced in the 1960s by artists from the Kinngait Co-operative (Cape Dorset) in Nunavut, acquired in the early ’70s. Featuring work by Pitseolak Ashoona, Kenojuak Ashevak, Johnny Inukpuk and Qaqak Ashoona, among others, these prints and sculptures represent an important body of work produced by founding artists of the longest running and most influential artists co-operative in the North.

The collection has continued to expand over the years with generous donations, notably a major gift of sculptures, paintings, and works on paper by Joan and Martin Goldfarb. That significant donation of 65 artworks includes a selection of Andy Warhol silk screen portraits, an iconic painting by Helen Frankenthaler and paradigmatic works by Norval Morrisseau, founder of the Woodland School. The collection also reflects the AGYU’s program, including commissioned works such as RISE by Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, a film featuring 30 performers from Toronto’s Jane-Finch and Scarborough neighbourhoods, as well as an LED sculpture, Politics, that was part of Hannah Black’s exhibition, The Meaning of Life.

To explore the York University Art Collection Online, visit For more information about the database, contact Michael Maranda, assistant curator of publications, at For queries related to the collection, contact Allyson Adley, education and community engagement coordinator, at

AGYU exhibition celebrates York prof’s prolific career

students walking in hallway

This month, the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) launches its new exhibition, Tim Whiten: Elemental Fire, celebrating the prolific career of the York University professor emeritus.

The exhibition, on display from Sept. 15 to Dec. 3, brings together more than 14 cultural objects from the past four decades of Whiten’s distinguished career, including works in glass and on paper, and a new installation created specifically for this exhibition.

Guest curated by Liz Ikiriko, former AGYU curator and the inaugural curator of collections and art in public space at the University of Toronto’s Art Museum, Elemental Fire considers how the material transformations of fire appear in Whiten’s work as forms of alchemy, risk, play and energetic power. Often alluding to notions of time and faith through histories of storytelling and spirituality, Whiten’s work asks observers to consider primary questions of their bodies, their presence and their value in the current moment.

Tim Whiten wide portrait courtesy of Mehraban Mehrabani
Tim Whiten, photo courtesy of Mehraban Mehrabani

Elemental Fire is part of a multi-venue retrospective, running from 2022 to the end of 2023, celebrating Whiten’s extensive career, developed as a partnership between the Art Gallery of York University, the Art Gallery of Peterborough, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery and the McMaster Museum of Art. This series of exhibitions shares the nomenclature “elemental” and is thematically united by the classical elements of air, water, earth and fire – a reference to Whiten’s interest in alchemical practices.

The Elemental Fire opening reception takes place on Sept. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the AGYU. The exhibition’s other events include the following:

  • Curatorial walk-through with Liz Ikiriko: Saturday, Sept. 16, 3 to 5 p.m., AGYU.
  • Curatorial panel with Pamela Edmonds, Liz Ikiriko, Chiezda Pasipanodya, Fynn Leitch and Leila Timmins: Wednesday, Oct. 18, 3 to 4:30 p.m., online.
  • Respondent talk and spatial audio experience with Nehal El-Hadi and Zoma Tochi Maduekwe, with Liz Ikirko: Thrusday, Nov. 14, 7 to 9 p.m., offsite at Arraymusic (155 Walnut Ave., Toronto).
  • Elemental reading group with Farhia Tato: Oct. 24 to Nov. 28, 7 to 8 p.m., online.

Whiten was born in Inkster, Mich., in 1941. Self-described as an image maker and creator of cultural objects, his practice spans five decades. After receiving his master of fine arts from the University of Oregon in 1966 and serving military duty from 1966 to 1968, he immigrated to Toronto and began his teaching career in the Division of Humanities in York University’s Faculty of Arts.

For 39 years, Whiten inspired thousands of students in their creative pursuits. As an award-winning educator and Chair of York’s Department of Visual Arts, he has contributed to generations of the Toronto arts ecology. His work has been exhibited across North America, from MOCA, Toronto, to ICA, Boston, and the Colorado University Art Museum, with his work in public collections at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Art Gallery of York University and the de Young Museum in San Francisco, among others.

Of his many accolades and awards, he is the recent recipient of the 2022 Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the 2023 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for Artistic Achievement.

For more information about the exhibition, visit Tim Whiten: Elemental Fire | Art Gallery of York University (

Updated: AGYU to debut public art series with City of Markham

York University's Accolade Galleria, Keele Campus

Update: New information after publication of this article indicates the Sept. 10 launch event has been cancelled, and the first edition of this program entitled “Bicycle” will not proceed. Continue to read YFile for further updates on this project.

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) has partnered with the City of Markham to launch a two-year public art series called Façade, in which four artists will be commissioned by four different curators to each develop a 127- by 32-foot photomural for the west façade of the Markham Pan Am Centre in Markham, Ont.

A 2023 artwork by Julian Yi-Zhong Hou called "Bicycle"
Julian Yi-Zhong Hou, Bicycle, 2023 (detail)

The series invites four artists to explore the performative potential of an architectural element as public space and to contemplate the layered identity of a place through the lens of their artistic and theoretical concerns.

Each of the artworks presented in Façade will bring a distinct perspective to this series, in both artistic approach and content. The projects will be unveiled consecutively, beginning with Bicycle by B.C.-based multidisciplinary artist Julian Yi-Zhong Hou, and be curated by Yan Wu, public art curator for the City of Markham.

The rest of the series will include work by northern Minnesota- and Chicago-based visual artist Andrea Carlson, curated by AGYU assistant curator of exhibitions Clara Halpern; and Berlin-based artist Aleksandra Domanović, curated by AGYU director and curator Jenifer Papararo; with a final project curated by Mariam Zulfiqar, director of British arts organization Artangel.

“This collaboration between the AGYU and the City of Markham’s Public Art Program reflects the essence of the project Façade itself – a liminal space where exterior and interior meet, where rigid dividing lines open and where art becomes a bridge to the public,” said Papararo. “Just as the artworks in this new public art series address complex issues of belonging and identity, the partnership between the AGYU and the City of Markham’s Public Art Program invites us to reimagine the potential of education, culture and its impact in defining communities.”

Chosen as the architectural host of Façade, the Markham Pan Am Centre is a multipurpose community and aquatics centre designed to serve as one of the venues for the 2015 Pan American Games, and is adjacent to where York University is constructing its new Markham Campus, scheduled to open in 2024, which will focus on technology and entrepreneurship, hosting programs in science, engineering, the arts and more.

A family-friendly launch event, free and open to all, will kick off the Façade public art series on Sept. 10, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Markham Pan Am Centre. The event will feature drag performances by Haus of Devereaux, with a special guest appearance by Lady Boi Bangkok; tarot card readings by FASTWÜRMS; I Ching readings by Yam Lau, associate professor in York’s Department of Visual Art and Art History; food trucks; and the big reveal of Yi-Zhong Hou’s new photomural.

“We’re delighted that AMPD Professor Yam Lau will be a part of the AGYU’s exciting series in Markham,” said Sarah Bay-Cheng, dean of York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), “and we look forward to future collaborations, with the opening of the Creative Technologies program in fall 2024.”

Façade photomural on-view dates:

  • September 2023 to March 2024: Bicycle by Julian Yi-Zhong Hou, curated by Yan Wu, public art curator for the City of Markham.
  • April to September 2024: Project by Andrea Carlson, Curated by Clara Halpern, Assistant Curator, AGYU.
  • September 2024 to April 2025: Project by Aleksandra Domanović, Curated by Jenifer Papararo, Director/Curator, AGYU.
  • April to September 2025: Project curated by Mariam Zulfiqar, Director, Artangel, U.K.

Free bus transportation will be available from downtown Toronto (Spadina Avenue and Bloor Street West) to the launch event, subject to capacity; contact Maria Won at to register. For more information about the Façade launch event or the public art series, visit

Special performance part of AGYU exhibit by York grad student

York University's Accolade Galleria, Keele Campus

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) will host a special performance by York University PhD student Erica Stocking as part of MotherGinger Promenade, an exhibit running until Dec. 2.

The performance, which takes place June 10 at 3 p.m. with a reception following at 4 p.m., charts a path through the emergence of fashion as a discipline within modernism in late 19th century Paris, its entanglement in rhythms and spaces of visibility, and the social and material conditions of movement. Inspired by early examples of public promenades (such as those on the Bois de Boulogne in Paris after its redevelopment as a society gathering point in the late 1800s) as spaces where economic, social and aesthetic interests come together in an event of looking and being seen, Stocking invites the audience to consider, “What is a closet and where can it take you?”

Erica Stocking, MotherGinger Promenade, 2023. Courtesy the artist.
Erica Stocking, MotherGinger Promenade, 2023. Courtesy the artist

The performance builds on Stocking’s ongoing project, MotherGinger, named after the iconic drag character from Russian composer Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker. By referencing this figure, characterized by a massive dress that houses eight children, Stocking foregrounds the connection between mothers as producers of human bodies for labour, Western industrialization and the blurring of the boundary between leisure and work.

Stocking has developed MotherGinger as a brand, with multiple forms from performances to pop-up shops. Situating itself within fashion as a conceptual framework, this project considers the ways that gender, fashion, Western modernism, subjectivity and survival intertwine within this balletic character.

Engaging both container technologies and the character’s roots in the Zanni characters of commedia dell’arte, MotherGinger Promenade is an invitation, a monologue, and a fashion show.

Exhibition: AGYU Vitrines
May 27 — Dec. 2

For this installation of MotherGinger, Stocking has transformed the AGYU vitrines into stylized containers – evoking closets, window displays and travel trunks. In calling attention to the structure of the vitrines, and their role as containers, this installation echoes the writing of Australian researcher Zoë Sofia on “container technologies,” which highlights the significant role of containers throughout history, including vessels and a myriad of objects and devices frequently associated with women’s labour. For Sofia, as well as for Stocking, containment is not passive; it is active and integral, exemplified by human beings’ inextricable entanglement and reliance on their own container, their own environment.

The AGYU vitrines are situated in the colonnade of the Accolade East Building, a space designed for movement. To promenade is to move with the intent of display, and, in this iteration of MotherGinger, garments made from domestic household materials and found objects displayed in the vitrines are removed, worn, and later returned in a series of performances that echo the movement of clothing through private and public spaces, testing what it means to be seen.

Erica Stocking: MotherGinger Promenade is curated by Clara Halpern, assistant curator, Exhibitions, AGYU.

About the artist

Erica Stocking is an artist working at the intersection of sculpture, performance and installation. Her work has been exhibited in Canada at Artspeak, Mercer Union, The Western Front and at the Contemporary Art Gallery. Stocking’s public artworks are part of the City of Vancouver, City of Surrey and SFU Community Trust Collections. She received her BFA from Emily Carr Institute in 2004, and recently completed an MFA at OCAD University in 2021. Stocking lives and works in Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD in visual arts at York University.

AGYU gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, during exhibitions; AGYU vitrines can be accessed at any time.

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

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.