Not only was the Eco-Spirit Art Show home to many interesting pieces of art, but it also showcased how artists on campus intersect their creative talent with their passion for environment-related causes. The space was set up in the bright and beautiful “Multi-Purpose” room, with a table for origami-making in the middle. Anyone and everyone was welcome to share in arts, crafts, and a variety of vegetarian and kosher foods. The inspiration behind the works varied from Indigenous solidarity to personal reflections on the degradation of today’s ecosystems. Many different mediums were featured, including paintings, photography, and installations.
I had the chance to speak with several of the artists with showcased work. Christeen Ghazal Salik, artist of the piece, “The Waves Within” expressed the relief of stress that comes from making digital art. Her artwork, which features a crescent moon design engulfed in ethereal shades of indigo, was inspired by her birthplace of Pakistan, and the celestial forces that guide her. In creating the art, Christeen mentioned how creating this type of art calms her, and so it’s no surprise that the end result is calming to look at as well. In her artist statement, Christeen described her creation as “one moment in my life where I truly appreciated the healing powers of art”.
I also had the opportunity to speak with the artist of “Eating Sidewalks,” Yasmine Emily. I found Yasmine’s work especially touching because of the sheer imagination that went into her work. She shared her current anxiety regarding the crisis of climate change, and how she finds at least a bit of comfort in making art from what she finds on the streets. To show the unnecessary and tragic nature of waste, Yasmine finds beauty in the discarded, transforming it into art. She states in her artist statement, “The process works to redirect ecological grief into expressive re-creation”. Her piece features beautiful scraps of a broken mirror, shimmering blue glass, and wood that was found on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit River, the Anishnabe, the Chippewa, and the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples.
In addition, creator, Raymond Dang, spoke during a period where artists had the opportunity to share with the audience the inspiration behind their work. Raymond articulated that the Indigenous-solidarity project titled, “Environmental Defenders Quilt,” stemmed across all three UofT campuses, in an effort to unite us all against a greater cause — the injustice against land protectors, specifically against Indigenous protestors. Raymond critiques the way Western nations have typically used land for exploitation, rather than cherishing its spiritual value. In solidarity with all of those who have faced injustice, there will be 371 names for each patch on the growing quilt, representing the deaths of land defenders between 2017 and 2018.
The creator of the event, and Multi-Faith Intern, Samantha Lucchetta, also had a beautiful piece featured in the show, “A Bridge in Terra Cotta”. Samantha’s photography shows a beautiful scene of a snowy bridge in the middle of a Southern Ontario winter. In an effort to show how landscapes have shaped her connection to the environment, Sam describes her desire to capture moments of environmental beauty through the lens of a camera. Landscapes tell a story, and each season and place has something important to say.
Many more talented artists were showcased, each with something brilliant to share. The gallery was just a single peak at the many creative, intelligent, and passionate voices on campus. The stories behind the art were unique and inspiring. Overall, the Eco-Spirit Environmental Arts Showcase was such a success, that I hope opportunities like this on campus can happen more regularly. Pictures of more art are shown below!