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what’s on(line) + spring has sprung!

March 23, 2021

the sky is blue, the sun’s setting a little later every day, and we think our allergies might be acting up. you know what that means...

Spring (and pollen) is in the air! There’s something about this season that feels like the real start of a new year. Like worms, we come out of a sort of hibernation hungry to move, explore, and embrace whatever the world has to offer. Speaking of offerings, this month you can make a DIY composter at Exploration artist Thomas McKechnie’s full moon ritual, read an incredible article about Blackness and bees by Residency artist Nehal El-Hadi, and tune in to see Nehal share her perspective on text and tactility at Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art and Manitoba Craft Council’s Spring Talk Series. There’s a lot to dig into this month, so let’s get going.

Editor’s note: Head’s up, this month’s Learning, Unlearning is a heavy and crucial one. In each edition, we ask you to engage with the realities of oppression, and the reality is that the maintenance of white supremacy requires violence—the tragedy that unfolded in Atlanta, Georgia last week serves as a devastating reminder of this fact. We’ve included a content warning at the top of the section. To our Asian and Pacific Islander friends, family, and neighbours, we stand in solidarity with you and hope the preceding sections can bring you a bit of comfort and release. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, my inbox is open: [email protected].

what's on(line)

Ring in the first full moon of spring with weird communist and erratic prophet Thomas McKechnie! In Explorations, they’re creating new rituals for a new world that’s coming. Join them virtually at the Worm Moon, a vermicomposting ritual where you can learn to make your own composter on Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 7:30pm EST.

In Thomas’s own words: “I want to meet you on the worm moon, the beginning of spring when the worms hatch from winter hibernation. We’re going to build a worm composter together, a spiritual worm composter. We’re going to feed the worms the rotten garbage of ourselves and our world: shame, fear, inadequacy, white supremacist colonial capitalism, prisons, police, unnecessary remakes of childhood classics, everything. One being’s trash is another’s deepest need, after all. All your rotten veggies are just waiting to become beautiful fertilizer. This dystopia is just waiting to be composted into a new world.”


You can engage with this ritual in two ways: watch and learn or build your own. If you’d like to participate but can’t get the supplies yourself for any reason please reach out to Creative Producer Theresa Cutknife at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to help you out. You can also pay-it-forward to make someone else’s participation possible.

And just because we think it’s neat, here’s a time-lapse video of Red Wiggler worms munching on some biodegradable goodness—all this could be yours if you join Thomas on Sunday. See you there!

Text and Tactility: Perspectives on writing about craft
“Writing about craft means writing about our world through the objects we create. Writing about craft and making is an invitation to write about the complex issues we face in everyday life: the environment, migration, labour, social relations, beauty, etc. In this talk we’ll explore how we use language to communicate our experiences with craft, and how, in talking about craft and making, we’re really talking about our place in the world.”

Join Residency artist Nehal El-Hadi live on YouTube as part of the Spring Talk Series presented by Manitoba Craft Council and Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art on March 25, 2021 at 7pm GST/8pm EST.

bookmarked: wu-tang and wild bees

Orchard Mason Bee, 2014, mixed wire with blue and green coloured wool, 27x10x10" (Charmaine Lurch/Photo by Toni Hafkensheid)
Charmaine Lurch live drawing, York University (Photo by Ann Zbitnew)

For her takeover of CBC Arts’ column Black Light, Nehal El-Hadi wrote about bees, Blackness, and collective action in her exploration of Toronto-based visual artist Charmaine Lurch’s ongoing project Wild Bees“What we’re learning about bees is that they occupy crucial places and roles in our ecosystems and production systems. And, more importantly, our survival is all tangled up in theirs: their collapse is ours.”

in the community

Catch Claiming Space on March 25 at 3 pm EST as part of the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival (March 24-28). This panel features comedy creators—including our lovely Associate Artistic Director Liza Paul—from across North America who are forging ahead to make space for community and craft in their city.

Citadel LIVE presents Nova Dance in a double bill of rhythmic, virtuosic solos created by Nova Bhattacharya and José Navas. Featuring the precise and intense performances of Bhattacharya, Calm Abiding is motivated by the belief that the simplicity of movement is more powerful than words, and Elemental exposes the inner world of the dancer, invoking the imagination and channeling the music. The free live stream will be available on March 26th at 7 pm EST, and limited-time replay available until March 27 at 11:59 pm EST.

Don’t miss Embodying Power and Place, a free digital experience presented by Nightwood TheatreNative Earth Performing Arts, and curated by New Harlem Productions. Hear over a dozen Indigenous artists respond to the MMIWG Final Report with powerful, compelling works from March 27–April 11.

learning, unlearning

Content warning: Anti-Asian hate crimes, gender-based violence

Graphic by Mon M courtesy of Red Canary Song

Over the past year, we’ve seen the consequences of sinophobic rhetoric from some of our political representatives, media outlets, and unchecked racism within our communities. While experiences of xenophobia and sinophobia are not by any means a recent development, Asian/Pacific Islander (API) Canadians have been sounding alarm bells throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Though ideally, we wouldn’t need statistics to prove lived experience, the numbers back up the hostility API Canadians and Americans have been feeling. Hate crime rates have fallen overall, but hate crimes against Asian Canadians are on the rise, and women and femmes bear the brunt of these vicious attacks.

On March 17, bodyworkers and healers Yong A. YueSuncha KimHyun J. GrantSoon C. ParkDaoyou Feng, and Xiaojie Tan, and clients Delaina Ashley Yaun and Paul Andre Michels were killed by a white supremacist in a racist attack targetting Asian-owned massage parlours. East Asian women experience a specific type of misogyny and gender-based violence that intersects with xenophobia, sinophobia, fetishization, and carceral immigration policies; for sex workers, classism and whorephobia are layered on as well. When we talk about the violent realities of oppression, it’s impossible to discuss one without the other.

We must refuse to give air to the “excuses” irresponsibly relayed by the cops, and we must centre the voices and demands of API sex workers and sex worker advocates as we grapple with this tragedy. As advocates from Red Canary Song explained, “whether or not they were sex workers or self-identified under that label, we know as massage workers, they were subjected to sexualized violence stemming from the hatred of sex workers, Asian women, working-class people, and immigrants.” For Vice, Anya Zoledziowski and Carter Sherman spoke with representatives from Red Canary Song and SWAN Vancouver about how policing fails to keep API women, sex workers, and migrants of colour safe; check out that article here. As we continue learning to show up for each other, let’s keep this thought from Sam Lew top of mind:

Please consider donating to Red Canary Song—they’re sending funds directly to survivors and the families of the victims. If you missed the virtual vigil they hosted on March 18, scroll through their Twitter timeline (you don’t need an account when you access it through your desktop computer) to read some of the live coverage. To support Canadian organizations that organize and advocate sex workers from the Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora, please donate to Butterfly in Toronto and SWAN Vancouver. Whether you have the means to donate or not, please read and consider signing Butterfly’s declaration of support. If you’re interested in continuing to engage with these ideas and community work, Maggie’s is a Toronto-based Sex Workers Action Project that’s worth a follow; while they’re still accepting donations, they’ve asked folks to prioritize giving to API-led organizations right now.

Let’s commit to learning more about sinophobia, especially how it interacts with model minority myths, fetishization, xenophobia, and gender-based violence; to sharing what we learn with our friends, family, and neighbours; to eradicating oppressive systems and fighting for our collective liberation.

This section was written by Tamara Jones and co-edited by Audrey Kwan.