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Black Art City: An artistic meditation on the movement for black lives

Exhibition Dates: March 6 – 19, 2017

Public Receptions: 

Thurs, March 9, 7-10pm
A night of performance art and performance by black and Indigenous artists

Sat, March 18 7-10pm
An immersive environment with art, music by DJ Dabz and Aruna Boodram,

and pop up performances throughout the evening.

Gallery Hours: 

9:30am-9pm daily

Artist Statement

Black (Art) City draws inspiration from the activist, art and direct action space, BlackCity, (BLMTO, March 2016), honouring this legacy of activist aesthetics, the one year anniversary of this gathering and serving as a jumping off point for conversations on future collaborations between artists and activists in black liberation movements

Artists Syrus Marcus Ware, Melisse Watson, Ravyn Wngz and other guests artists will work in residency over the two week installation, creating new drawing, dance textile and print works, while building a drop in space reminiscent of the social, networking and gathering space of black city.

Come by and visit the artists, connect with other black activists, check out the ever changing window displays, and tap into art-based movement building!

Till we free, we keep on!

Artist Bios

Syrus Marcus Ware

Syrus is a Vanier scholar, a visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus works with painting, textiles, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. His work has been shown widely, including at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Doris McCarthy Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of York University and The Gladstone Hotel. Syrus’ recent curatorial projects include That’s So Gay: Come Together (Gladstone Hotel, 2016, 2015 & 2014), Re:Purpose (Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2014) and The Church Street Mural Project (Church-Wellesley Village, 2013). He is part of the PDA (Performance Disability Art) Collective and co-programmed Crip Your World: An Intergalactic Queer/POC Sick and Disabled Extravaganza as part of Mayworks 2014. He is also a part of the Black Triangle Arts Collective (BTAC), a visual arts collective dedicated to exploring disability, racial and economic justice.

Syrus is a core-team member of Black Lives Matter- Toronto. Syrus is also part of Blackness Yes! and co-produces Blockorama at Pride and other related events throughout the year.  For 17 years, Syrus hosted the weekly radio segment, “Resistance on the Sound Dial” on CIUT 89.5FM. He is a prison abolitionist, is a former member of Friends of MOVE Toronto and the Prisoners’ Justice Action Project, and is one of the organizers of Toronto’s Prisoners’ Justice Day events. Syrus was voted “Best Queer Activist” by NOW Magazine (2005) and was awarded the Steinert and Ferreiro Award for LGBT community leadership and activism (2012). Syrus’ writings on trans health, disability studies and activism are part of curricula at City University of New York, York University, and Ryerson University. For 12 years, Syrus was the Program Coordinator of the AGO Youth Program, Art Gallery of Ontario. Syrus holds degrees in Art History, Visual Studies and a Masters in Sociology and Equity Studies, University of Toronto.  Syrus is a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. He is a facilitator/designer at The Banff Centre. Syrus is the inaugural Daniel’s Spectrum Artist-in-Residence (2016/17)

Learn more:

Twitter + Instagram:  @syrusmarcusware
Facebook: syrus marcus ware (artist page), @marcusware


Melisse Watson

Melisse Watson, artist name, “coyote” is a poly-racial, Black, Cherokee-identified queer artist.  Melisse is a multi-disciplinary artist who is inspired by stories- choosing the creative mediums that guide their telling. Their practice integrates spoken word, dance, digital media, visual art, and performance art. Melisse’s work is driven by the capacity for art to provoke and contribute to social justice, community building and healing within systematically oppressed populations.

Melisse wrote, directed and performed in their award-winning show I Was Born White at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2014. Most recently, Melisse performed In Utero Out in the 2016 Summerworks Festival, The Day You Died and The Hour You Were Born at the 34th Annual Rhubarb Festival and at several venues across Toronto with Drawing with Knives Co. Melisse has presented solo and collaborative visual and performance work at The Theatre Centre, The Drake Hotel, Band Gallery, Harbourfront Centre, Daniel Spectrum, Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, Wordspell Toronto, Pride Toronto, Nest and other local venues. Melisse was the Visual Arts Director at the Children’s Peace Theatre and is a current core artist with the organization. Melisse has trained and performed with Ill Na Na Diversity Dance Company, Danza Corpus, Native Earth Performing Arts, and has been mentored by Trey Anthony in Theatre and Syrus Marcus Ware in Visual Arts.

Completing the Community and Justice Program at Humber College, Melisse has been inspired and determined to build a culture of rehabilitation, community restoration, and shifting a paradigm of oppression through the arts. Melisse is the founder of the Rawhide Project, a community arts initiative by and for communities experiencing violence to relearn, reimagine, and rebuild intentional, supportive, and less-violent realities.

Learn more:

Instagram: @coyotewatson

Facebook: @melissewatson


Ravyn Wngz

(Bio coming!)

Facebook: @ravyn wngz