#ArtTransforms March 4, 2020

Art makes me bolder, braver and happier

By Ashley T.

Ashley T. is an multidisciplinary artist working in the mediums of event coordination (or what she calls “installation art” ), dance and visual arts. She is also a resident artist at SKETCH’s Indie Studio Residency for the Winter Season. You can follow her on Instagram at @blackdiamondeventsto and to see or purchase her work, visit her site  Bi Fusion Arts.


I work professionally in event design and management, which consists of anything from planning an entire event from scratch to running the show the day-of and wrangling people.  As event management involves a great deal of organization and logistics, it is regarded as being a real profession.

As a child I always aspired to be a professional artist, but was widely discouraged because it was not considered to be a real profession.  My brother was my only real support system for my art. He bought me my first easel and paint set and encouraged my artistry. As a result of the discouragement from others, I pursued more academic endeavours. However, my brother helped keep my love for the arts alive and I continued to pursue it, but in a more hobby-inclined manner.


The residue of the discouragement resulted in me not being able to accept the term “artist” as one I could identify myself as.  I had truly removed myself from that realm of thinking, until I realized that when I create and produce events, that I am still creating art.  My events are three-dimensional, atmospheric pieces of art that cater to all of the senses, thus I refer to my events as my “installation art”.  The fact that I could see my events as “professional art” re-inspired me as an artist and helped me fall back in love with all forms of art, especially acrylic painting.

I call my art collection Bi Fusion Arts because it speaks to my many identities the same way my art does.  I am Biracial, Bisexual and have Bipolar Disorder Type II. I am also the middle child of three children, so “Bi-ness” has always been a very big part of my life in the sense that I am constantly told that I am either not enough or am too much.  My paintings, although abstract, still very much tell a story. Each one is essentially a snapshot of my narrative. They speak about me being Black and Biracial, about my bisexuality, about being Bipolar and my mental health, about my feminism, and many other things that make me who I am.  Although the themes are consistent, each piece is completely different.

Haute Couture

I have been thinking more and more about what success actually means to me because growing up, I was influenced by the idea that money and fame signified success.  I have been re-evaluating my sense of success. To me, success is permanence. I have survived many discouragements, traumas, rejections, and attempted erasure of my identities.  The fact that I have been able to survive and continue to translate that pain, fight, and resilience into my art is success. Defying erasure and claiming permanence IS success.

I wish I found out about SKETCH a long time ago because I am aging out soon. It has been a part of my journey in reconnecting with my visual art and my resilience.  This past year has been all about reconnecting with my visual art and allowing myself to expand on being an artist.

Art has really changed my life, it has made me a hell of a lot happier. It has made me bolder, braver, and happier.

SKETCH COMMUNITY UPDATE (as of August 14, 2020)

Thanks to all who participated in Creating Against the Odds! Our online experiments offered May, June and July. Thanks to everyone who made those experiments during these challenging times.

SKETCH studios at 180 Shaw Street will remain closed to public access until further notice. We are forced in this time of pandemic to rework and consider our sustainability given public health priorities and resources. We will keep you posted on new designs in September.

Connect here for wellness supports.

We've launched our Equity at SKETCH Web page to be in dialogue with you about our Equity goals.

Black activists and communities everywhere are working hard to lead all society to call out and authentically address the violent impacts of White Supremacy in policing, justice, education, health, community and in all systems and infrastructures across Turtle Island (North America). Anti-Black racism is deeply embedded in every fabric of our society. This, as well as our violent colonial legacy of Indigenous erasure, constant gender discrimination and violence, and the violence and mistreatment of those in the disability community, are pervasive pressing truths that we need to face and address, daily, to make change in real ways. We need boldness, energy, honesty, deep listening and accountability, to generate sustained action and inversions of power in the immediate, medium and long term.

What can a community-engaged arts organization in Toronto like us do, to take up its role in this critical renaissance of justice? Join us in learning together with us, what this means.

SKETCH is deeply committed to supporting, learning from and amplifying the brave and creative leadership of young Black Artists and Activists. Check out Art in Pandemic and be inspired by the incredible work of young artists creating during this time.

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.

Follow us at @SKETCHToronto, and reach out if you have any questions at info@sketch.ca.

Please support us to be a just, accountable and vibrant arts platform for young people on the margins! We need your help now more than ever!

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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