bank robber by mara minuzzo

In a world of reproductions, plaque-it and digital photography, it is easy to understand why contemporary artists appear fated to struggle. It seems to me a bit of a curse in the 21st century to be a creative mind in a society which favours $24.99 wall art from Home Sense.

The artistic community while alive and strong lives collectively on a fringe we don’t know nor see much of. We understand that they’re out in studio spaces hunched over palettes of paint and mixed mediums. Sometimes we see their work via small white galleries dotted throughout our neighbourhoods, shielded behind floor to ceiling glazing. We may even pause while passing by to take a peek and hesitate on going in for a better look. But the census of our appreciation for the artistic community is underdeveloped.

For 5 years, The Artist Project has helped to bridge this gap by connecting art, artists and the public. Taking place in the Queen Elizabeth building at Exhibition over 200 predominantly Canadian artists take the opportunity to showcase and share their work. I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of work and the variety of talent under one roof. I curated the following collection of favourites:

Deer Me By Mara Minuzzo

tethys by Elizabeth Lennie

harry enchin's Toronto Transformed

maureen o'connor

gosia, part of "the beast girl" series

part of erin rothstein's "tasting room" series

pop 2 by neil young

Omar Aljebouri and Michael CC Lin

I attend an art college so I’m constantly surrounded by young creative minds and endlessly impressed by the talent displayed throughout the corridors. The “untapped” student exhibit was really fun to cruise as the bright-eyed artists were eager to show and tell.

I especially liked Shanna van Maurik’s reinterpretation of the “Raft of the Damned”, which apparently up until being asked to exhibit was rolled up and stashed away in her mom’s basement.

shanna van Maurik

Jenna Faye Powell‘s paintings had an intriguing playful construction, which I was really drawn to as a designer.

red sky at night by jenna faye powell

Finally, Ryan Louis turned into an all-star as one of his photos was front and centre on the show’s program. He talked about the handcrafted scenes of his photos which many people mistake for Photoshop grafting. But Ryan actually cuts out images which he places within a constructed scene of fantasy which totally delights the viewer.

"stripes" from ryan louis's constructed realities series