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Earth Art

A Thinking Art Workshop |  15 June 2014 | at the Brick Works, Toronto
A Collaborative Public Event hosted by IPLAI, Evergreen, and the Early Modern Conversions Project

"I was not ready for abstraction. I clung to earth and her dear shapes, her density, her herbage, her juice. I wanted her volume and I wanted to hear her throb." -- Emily Carr

"The art iteself is nature." -- Shakespeare

Participants in the Earth Art workshop will imagine themselves marooned in a future dystopia, a place bereft of plants and animals, where human beings have become wired into a vast mainframe and where their very bodies have become robotized. Indeed, there is nature all around them and nature still inside them, but they can no longer see, hear, smell, or feel it.

Their task will be to make works of art capable of converting humankind—and themselves—back into kinship with nature. They will work in groups, each group guided by an artist-leader and each focusing on a particular art form. They will create art in the reclaimed industrial spaces of Evergreen Brick Works, then gather to perform and present what they have made in a world that will now open to them the newborn density, herbage, juice, and volume of the Lower Don Valley Ravines.

The Thinking Art program, developed by the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI) at McGill, explores the power of art to transform society. Thinking Art participants learn by doing, and specifically by making art collaboratively and with the guidance and inspiration of leading artists.

Thinking Art participants work in groups to make art in different forms, including theatre, visual art, poetry, song, dance, and design. No artistic training or proficiency is required. In fact, we don’t let participants join a group in which they have expertise. If you have trained as a dancer, you can’t join the dance group, but you’ll be welcome to join the group doing theatre or visual art. The goal of Thinking Art is to induct people into a new world where they can experience the power of artistic practice to build relations of trust and ignite individual and collective initiative. Participants access the untapped muses within, travel into the world of the imagination, and discover how art can transform the world.

Evergreen is a national not-for-profit that inspires action to green cities. Located in the Lower Don Valley Ravines in the heart of Toronto, Evergreen Brick Works is a community environmental centre that offers a range of programs that empower the public to get involved in cultivating new ideas and solutions to green their communities.

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, McGill University, and eighteen academic and artistic partners, the Early Modern Conversions Project is developing a new history of the Renaissance that will enlighten modern debates about corporeal, sexual, psychological, political and spiritual kinds of transformation.

Allegra Fulton is a multi award-winning actress whose career spans many years in film, television and theatre in both Canada and the US.  Recently seen in Governor General award winning playwright Jennifer Tremblay’s one-woman show THE CAROUSEL (produced by Nightwood Theatre and the sequel to THE LIST which she played in 2010), she once again garnered much notice from the press. From the brave new work in the Theatres of Toronto to playing leads at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival she has appeared in over 100 plays both classical and contemporary  and her work has been critically acclaimed, even being called “A national treasure”. www.allegrafulton.com

Sean MartindaleSean Martindale is an interdisciplinary artist and designer currently based in Toronto. His interventions activate public spaces to encourage engagement, often focused on ecological and social issues. His playful works question and suggest alternate possibilities for existing spaces, infrastructures and materials found in the urban environment. Frequently, he uses salvaged goods and plants in unexpected ways that prompt conversations and interaction.

Martindale was profiled for the first episode of the CBC’s Great Minds of Design, one of his lectures was filmed by TVO for their Big Ideas series, and his work was included in the feature-length documentary This Space Available.

Rachel KrehmWinner of the 2013 Capital Critics Circle’s Choice Award at the Ottawa Fringe for her solo performance in Poulenc’s La voix humaine, Canadian soprano Rachel Krehm is establishing herself as a sophisticated performer in both the opera and theatre communities. A multi-faceted artist, Rachel is the co-founder and General Director of Opera 5. Praised for her “lovely, radiant voice” (Opera Canada), and her “excellent acting” (Capital City Critics), Rachel has recently performed Tenors, Trumpets and La Traviata, a family show she co-wrote, with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. In August of 2014, she will sing Exsultate Jubilate and Les Nuits d’Été with the Canzona Chamber Orchestra at the Church of the Holy Trinity’s Music Mondays Series in Toronto.

Aria UmezawaHalf-Japanese, Toronto-based, Aria Umezawa is making her mark in both the theatre and opera communities as a producer, director, and stage manager. Her staging of Poulenc’s La voix humaine recently took home the Capital Critics Circle’s Choice Award at the 2013 Ottawa Fringe Festival. She is the Artistic Director of Opera 5, and the creator, director, and writer of the web-series Opera Cheats. Aria has directed the Canadian premier of New York-based composer, Milton Granger’s Talk Opera (Opera 5) and the North American premier of Cavalli’s Artemisia (Helios Opera, Boston). She has been praised for her irreverent, post-modern, wondrous and quirky visual style by online and print publications such as The Boston GlobeThe Boston Pheonix, and Toronto’s Barcza Blog.

Nicola Pantin is an award-winning choreographer, dancer, and teacher. With her company 3degrees, she has choreographed for Late Night with Lucy (Stratford Festival), Impulse, Des McAnuff's Yoshimi Battles the Robots, and the hit comedy Spank! Stratford credits includeThe King and I, Henry V, The Tempest, Hamlet, and FuenteOvejuna, among many other plays. She has worked atHarbourfront World Stage, YPT, and Shakespeare in the Rough. She has choreographed for dance and music videos, most recently Chelsea McMullan's Mise en Scene

Julie TeppermanJulie Tepperman is an actor, playwright, educator and co-artistic director of  Convergence Theatre.  As an actor, her credits include two seasons at The Stratford Festival. Playwriting credits include: YICHUD (Seclusion) (Capital Critic's Circle Nomination; published by Playwrights Canada Press); a re-imagining of the August Strindberg play The FatherI Grow Old as part of The Gladstone Variations (Dora nomination, voted #2 in NOW Magazine's Top Ten Toronto Productions of The Decade); Rosy as part of AutoShow (voted Best Production, Best New Play, Outstanding Ensemble at the Toronto Fringe).  

Julie teaches acting, playwriting and self-producing workshops for The Stratford Festival, The Luminato Festival, The Toronto Fringe, Nightwood Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Ryerson University, George Brown and Humber Theatre Schools.  Convergence Theatre has twice been voted by NOW Magazine readers as “The Best Site Specific Theatre Company in Toronto”.

Morgan ZiglerMorgan Zigler - After graduation from the Glasgow School of Art I spent a year outside, volunteering at college, within England, which teaches disabled students practical heritage skills. This enabled me to learn an incredible amount along side them about cultivating the natural environment, strategies for mentoring youth in collaborative work, and the value of engaging in historical craft. This experience and inspiration combined with my grounding in a permaculture design course brought me to apply these skills in an urban setting with Evergreen in 2007. Since, as an Artist-In-Residence, I have worked to elaborate the intersectionality of environmental education and art.

08:45 - Guided walk from Castle Frank Station to the Brick Works site

09:20 - Introductions

09:30 - Workshop activity with artist leaders

12:00 - Lunch break

13:00 - Performance and exhibition of the works of art created in the morning

14:30 - Reflection on the conversional and world-making power of art

15:00 - Closing

Participants are invited to gather at Castle Frank Station between 8:30am and 8:45am to join a guided walk through the ravines to Brick Works site. The group will depart the Station at 8:45am.


Participants may take the BrickWorks free shuttle, which leaves the Broadview Station every 30 minutes, or take public transit – the 28A bus departs from the Davisville station every half hour. For details please see the Brick Works Site

Participants may choose to drive directly to the site. Pay parking is available though spaces may be limited.

The Earth Art workshop will take place outside. Please plan accordingly and bring whatever you might need: sunblock, a hat, long pants to protect against rough grasses in the ravines, comfortable shoes, etc.  Please wear clothing that is comfortable and which you don’t mind getting a little dirty.

Rain or shine, the workshop will run. If it rains heavily on the day of the workshop we will move indoors but otherwise please be prepared to spend the day outside. Our workspace is covered, so a few showers shouldn’t interfere!

In keeping with the ethos and the workshop and the philosophy of Evergreen, please consider bringing water in reusable sports bottles or other containers to minimize waste.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own lunches (please bear in mind food will have to be outside during the morning). Food items may also be purchased from the Brick Works Marketplace.

And of course, please remember that what you bring in should also be brought out. Help us keep the Brick Works site and the Don Valley ravines beautiful!