Community Arts Space: ArtHeart Community Art Centre

One of three online exhibitions featuring works from the Gardiner Museum Community Arts Space program, March - December 2020

Community Art Space: Community is Essential (2020) by Gardiner MuseumGardiner Museum

About Community Arts Space (CAS)

Grounded in the real and metaphorical ability of clay to transform, the Gardiner Museum’s Community Arts Space is a platform for experimentation and socially engaged art. We work within and beyond the Museum’s gallery walls to re-envision what equitable community engagement looks like at a cultural institution. In 2020, the Gardiner partnered with Turtle House Art/Play Centre (Turtle House), FCJ Refugee Centre (FCJ), and ArtHeart Community Art Centre (ArtHeart) to engage forty participants, ranging from youth to seniors, in clay-making activities. The group represented diverse experiences and cultural backgrounds, with participants from countries including Barbados, China, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Libya, Mexico, Namibia, Saint Kitts, South Africa, Syria, Turkey, and Zimbabwe. At the start of 2020, we planned to offer in-studio workshops from March to May, followed by a showcase in the Exhibition Hall over the summer. However, with the onset of the pandemic and the Museum’s temporary closure, we reimagined Community Arts Space (CAS2020) as a ten-month-long project that safely offered participants technical skills, an outlet for creative expression, and most importantly, a sense of community.

Creating Family Steps Out, Together (2020) by Sandi WongGardiner Museum

CAS 2020: Community is Essential

When the Museum reopened in July, we were pleased to invite the participants back into the studios. With new health and safety protocols in place, instructors Aitak Sorahitalab and Adam Williams supported the participants’ work with fired clay. It was wonderful to have people work in the Museum’s studios again, animating and enlivening the community and 4 educational spaces that are central to our mandate. As these workshops were the only opportunity for many participants to gather outside of their homes, the studio became a safe space to develop new friendships and support networks. Inspired by the treasured relationships built over the past months, we reframed CAS2020 as Community Is Essential. This title honours the resilience and creativity of the participants, while recognizing the crucial work of the community partners, each of which serves historically marginalized populations. We were grateful to be able to provide the participants this opportunity to work with clay, particularly during this challenging time.

Creating Sing and Dance (2020) by Jing JianxiongGardiner Museum

About ArtHeart

ArtHeart provides free visual arts education, programs, materials, and healthy snacks to children and youth, as well as hot, nutritious meals to adults and seniors living in Regent Park and the surrounding neighbourhoods. ArtHeart offers participants a supportive environment in which they can create and learn, build self-esteem, and develop life skills.

Content Cat (2020) by Nathan GuestGardiner Museum

A Message from ArtHeart

ArtHeart Community Art Centre has served the community of Regent Park for almost three decades, bringing wellness and a strong sense of community through creativity and artistic expression to the area’s underprivileged adults, seniors, youth, and families. 

Human Heart and Uterus (2020) by Claire MercerGardiner Museum

By providing free studio space and programming, materials and facilitation, and our food program sponsored by Daily Bread and Second Harvest, ArtHeart nurtures the artistic mind and community spirit.

Human Heart and Uterus by Claire Mercer

Community Peace Garden (2020) by Ava GoodmanGardiner Museum

ArtHeart Community Art Centre had to pivot quickly once our studio was forced to close due to the pandemic.

Community Peace by Ava Goodman

Momo on Ganesh Platter (2020) by Bhahrati SapkotaGardiner Museum

Since July, we have continued to serve our participants with weekly art challenges through free ArtKits, delivered curbside from our home at Daniels Spectrum. Inspired by a project initiated in Halifax by Wonder’neath Art Society, we have given out over 2,300 free ArtKits, helping to fight loneliness, isolation, and depression, while providing inspiration and engagement.

Momo on Ganesh Platter by Bhahrati Sapkota

Open Yet Holding (2020) by Victoria BiwaGardiner Museum

Our CAS2020 collaboration with the Gardiner Museum, planned since late 2019, sadly was also impacted; our spring 2020 in-studio sessions were interrupted for months due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Open Yet Holding by Victoria Biwa

Happy Owl (2020) by Kan ChaiGardiner Museum

Thankfully, as a true collaborator, the Gardiner also pivoted quickly and donated sixty ArtKits for our “Play with Clay” weekly challenge. We are truly grateful to the Gardiner for providing air-dry clay and tools.

Happy Owl by Kan Chai

Monster/Demon (2020) by Gaetan GenesseGardiner Museum

In September, when we could return safely to in-studio sessions, we were able to finish our pieces.

Monster/Demon by Gaetan Genesse

Sing and Dance (2020) by Jing JianxiongGardiner Museum

Our ArtHeart participants, most of whom are new to working in clay, were thrilled to have this opportunity to work in 3D and to express their feelings on community, even more so due to the isolation caused by the pandemic.

Dance by Jing Jianxiong

Bird (2020) by Yun FanGardiner Museum

We at ArtHeart Community Art Centre are truly grateful and look forward to an ongoing relationship with the Gardiner Museum and its talented and dedicated staff.

Sandi Wong
On behalf of the ArtHeart Community Art Centre

Bird by Yun Fan

Puppy and Bowl (2020) by ShiGardiner Museum

Puppy and Bowl by Shi

Conversation with Nature (2020) by Ma Kwan MeiGardiner Museum

Conversation with Nature by Ma Kwan Mei

Neighbourhood Yin/Yan (2020) by Kate LeeGardiner Museum

Neighbourhood Yin/Yan by Kate Lee

Hands of Diversity (2020) by Gloria WongGardiner Museum

Hands of Diversity by Gloria Wong

A Cup - To Share Community (2020) by Rama FayazGardiner Museum

A Cup-To Share Community by Rama Fayaz

Abstract Vase with Ears (2020) by Judy RuckGardiner Museum

Abstract Vase with Ears by Judy Ruck

Family Steps Out, Together (2020) by Sandi WongGardiner Museum

Family Steps Out, Together by Sandi Wong

Pawprint and Star Bowl (2020) by Cindy GeeGardiner Museum

Pawprint and Star Bowl by Cindy Gee

CAS 2020 Acknowledgments (2020) by Gardiner MuseumGardiner Museum

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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