Miscellaneous October 11, 2018

Weave & Mend Artist Feature: Kaya

By Jonsaba Jabbi

Kaya Joan is a multi-disciplinary mixed Afro-Indigenous (Mohawk/ Cree/ Taino/ Arawak)-settler artist born and raised in T’karonto (Dish with One Spoon treaty territory). Her work focuses on healing, blood memory and exploring the intersections of her mixed identity. Kaya Joan’s practice extends into her communities and she has been working in art facilitation, organization and implementation since she began her career in the arts five years ago.

Creation is a necessary viaduct for Kaya to work through trauma. This trauma is her own, as well as her ancestors. She strongly believes it is her purpose to use art to heal. Her goal is to continue to challenge colonial/Eurocentric ways of being and knowing with art that makes space for voices that have been mis/underrepresented and silenced.

She is currently one of the lead artists of Weave and Mend, working with an amazing team of Indigenous femme and two spirit artists in preparation for the public launch on Sunday, October 21 from 11AM-2PM at Artscape Youngplace.

A photo of Kaya wearing a mask

Growing up disconnected from a lot of my family and culture, I see creation as a way to navigate these buried roots, and grow new ones.

Having a multimedia practice allows me to explore complicated themes using material that suits the subject best. Analogue and digital illustration serves as a 2D platform for me to create dreamscapes of my subconscious, as well as present characters who interact with different facets of my identity. I use video, sculpture and instillation to challenge western pedagogy by exploring Afro and Indigenous futurity and pedagogy.

A friend of mine told me about the Weave and Mend project and suggested I apply. I am so glad I did. This has been one of the most incredible community art projects I have been a part of. From the people, to the skills I have been able to learn and practice, to the flow of the project itself. Weave and Mend is a project that keeps evolving, and it is such an honour to be growing alongside the project and artists involved. They have become family.

The Piece “Growth” by Kaya

Through Weave and Mend I have gained so much. It’s been such a valuable experience working with a team to create an artistic vision for a site, and then execute it. I’ve learned how to let go of ideas, how to interact and transform natural materials that came from one place and integrate them into the site, wood burning…I am so grateful for the facilitators of the project as well, Sarah, Sue, Liz and Morgan. They have taught me so much about how to facilitate with immense care and in a good way, one which is considerate of all team members.

Art has transformed the way that I move through the world. Most of the time, my senses are observing and experiencing the world around me as art. Also, I have found the most beautiful talented people and communities through various avenues of art. I am a more open person because of my art. I am more curious and critical because of ‘art’. I am even critical of the word ‘art’ itself.

I want people to know how much hard work and time was put into this project. A lot of consultation and thought was woven into the creation of the site. Also we as a team love to hear feedback about what community thinks of the space!

"You really want that utopian ideal of what our world could be? You want to be proudly and ACTIVELY anti-racist, more than fearing being called a racist? I want that for you too. If so, then do the work, educate yourself and others stand by us loudly, consistently, FOREVER." - Clara Amfo, BBC 1 Radio Host

Dear SKETCH Community,

The last two weeks have been yet another reminder that the Black community continues to be under attack by white supremacist systems. SKETCH's board of directors and staff sends their deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who we have most recently lost including Regis Korchinski-Paquet, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and D’Andre Campbell, and all those whose deaths have not been televised.

In our grief and anger at these senseless murders committed by the police, SKETCH is ensuring that we stay accountable to our Black youth artists, staff and the Black community at large, by taking swift action to ensure that folks are supported, uplifted, taken care of and their voices amplified, as they continue to organize and march on the front lines for justice.

As an organization that is led by mainly white leadership, we are deeply committed to examining and activating our role as an accomplice to address violence, racism, oppression, and discrimination in our sector, in Toronto and in society generally.

This Means:
  • We will continue to look within and address our own biases and the ways that systemic and structural racism plays itself out in SKETCH;
  • We will increase investment and resources to young Black Artists;
  • We will endorse Black leadership in SKETCH and in arts and culture;
  • We will support self-care and resources for our Black staff; and
  • Our leadership will connect with other white leaders of arts and culture organizations to support Black leadership in the sector with resourced opportunities to lead in meaningful ways.

We want to acknowledge the trauma and grief of those who create with and work at SKETCH, who are Black. We know you endure violence on a daily basis. We want to reach out to support you, stand and work together with you, to fight for justice, for your health, and for your futures.

We seek to learn daily, with you, how to enact a more just present and future. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for calling us to be better. All of our liberations depend on it.

We join the movements for prison abolition, and for strong redirection of funding for policing to go toward community-based transformative justice efforts.

We call on the Arts Councils to create a Black Artists Fund to support Black Artists and Black Arts and Culture Organizations, recognizing and investing in their leadership in arts and culture, and in building fair and inclusive communities.

We encourage the non-Black community members of SKETCH to stand with us and take action by:
  • Educating yourself on the issues;
  • Supporting your Black staff with personal time for self-care;
  • Supporting the community by buying from Black-owned business (which include Black artists at SKETCH);
  • Donating to organizations that are directly supporting Black folks;
  • Reposting and resharing information on your social media feeds;
  • Having constant conversations with your peers, families, and friends; and
  • Signing petitions that call for justice.

With so many ways to actively support the dismantling of systems that continue to oppress the Black community, silence is not an option.

We welcome you all to join SKETCH in allying yourselves with the Black community in the fight for liberation for all, not as a token event, but one that actually leads to a re-education, re-evaluation, and unbiased and selfless action.

In solidarity,

SKETCH Working Arts

Artwork: Egwu Ogwu Mystic Dance by Kanna Anigbogu

Dear Friends and Investors,

Greetings from the SKETCH Project Home Team! We hope that you and your family are keeping well and safe during this time.

UPDATE: SKETCH is placing the capital campaign to purchase our studios on brief hiatus until the fall.

Our campaign has been a great success so far, with over $370,000 raised in funds and Community Bonds! However, in face of the COVID-19 pandemic, SKETCH is taking action to suspend the campaign to allow the time needed for those excited about our campaign to be in a more secure position to participate.

If you have already donated to the campaign, or purchased SKETCH Community Bonds, we deeply appreciate your commitment to Project Home. If you've just recently submitted your bond-purchase documents, we will still process your investment.

Have any questions about your donations or bond purchase? Please do not hesitate to contact SKETCH Executive Director, Rudy Ruttimann at rudy@sketch.ca.

This summer, we'll be working with our campaign partners and SKETCH community to determine exactly when we relaunch in the Fall. We'll be sure to keep you posted over the summer.

You can still inquire about SKETCH, our capital campaign, and its progress at invest@sketch.ca or by following us at @SKETCHToronto.

Thank you for your time, and we wish all the best for you and your family.

-The SKETCH Team & Campaign Advisory