Art in Pandemic

SKETCH celebrates the creativity of young people

SKETCH’s Studios have been closed and we must now re-imagine how to reach out to participants, to help keep them safe, engaged and connected to the community as much as possible during this pandemic.

Art in Pandemic! is a project where SKETCH artists share their artistic practice and process in light of COVID-19.

Through this series we hope to:

  • share artwork that fosters imagination and storytelling;
  • provide artists with valuable paid work during this extremely difficult time (all SKETCH artists get paid for their public performances with SKETCH, and this initiative is no different);
  • offer you insights into the courage, perseverance, and process of our artists.

Your donation will support young people through this critical time.

Thank you for continuing to nurture the transformative power of the arts through this period of instability.

Opola Karim is a Toronto-based artist. Her Bangladeshi background and Western influences allow her to intertwine the two cultures creating vibrancy, exploration, and new techniques and mediums to work with. Her specialty is painting “self-portrait” mandalas, to bring a sense of hope, self-love, and healing.

Working as a visual arts teacher, Opola is now having to engage her students remotely. Her video explores how she is using art as a tool to navigate feelings of isolation, as well as online platforms to further her artistic practice and share her work with a broader audience. 

Make sure to take a look at more of her artwork on Instagram @o.raang, and on Facebook @opolaxkarim.







Watch the entire Art in Pandemic series




Paulina O’Kieffe-Anthony is an award winning Toronto writer, performer, arts educator and community advocate. Paulina is a recognized leader in both the social service sector and arts community and is currently the Grants Manager at SKETCH. Paulina is an alumni of the City Leaders Program, a Toronto Community Foundation Vital People Award Recipient and was recognized as one of 150 Black Women Making Herstory (as featured on CBC) for her contribution to building the arts scene in Toronto.




Pree was raised in Tiohtiá:ke/Montreal and went to school in Tkaronto/Toronto. They are a child of immigrant settlers from Punjab. As an artist educator, Pree’s work centres the experiences of individuals who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour).

They have an interdisicliplinary arts practice under the name: StickyMangos and they co-founded the Non-Binary Colour Collective. Pree is maintaining their arts practice during the pandemic, and currently working on two research projects, one about improving services for trans youth, and one about making [art] with place.

Ty Sloane



Ty (Tyler J) Sloane (they/them) is a Two-Spirit Non-Binary Mixed Race (Anishinaabe / Chinese / Greek / Irish) multi-disciplinary theatre/performance artist. They aim to emphasize marginalized voices that intersect: race; fluid sexualities; trans, non-binary, and fluid gender expressions; non-monogamous relationships; and class. They’ve explored the aforementioned themes in various disciplines: photography (Light Our Bodies), visual art (Breath On One Land).




Che is a soul singer and songwriter. Her songs are essentially freedom songs, promoting the freedom to love, feel, and live as our truest selves.

Follow her on Instagram @pure.che.




Calm is a Filipino Multi-media Artist who has been a part of SKETCH’s artist residency program – Indie Studio. He demonstrate how he continues to develop his artistic practice, while in quarantine. Calm specializes in digital collage, film, photography and music (rap). This isn’t the only time that SKETCH has benefited from his artistry. Calm also provided us with this season’s new online program schedule image.

Ashley T.



As a young, Black Biracial Bisexual Woman with Type II Bipolar Disorder from Toronto, Ashley often refers to herself as the “Bi-fecta” of intersections.  She takes her experiences from her intersectionality and works to build awareness and offer anti-oppression education in different communities, especially in the Black and LGBTQ+ Communities, in order to make safer spaces for others.  Her art is a reflection of her intersections connecting and creating space for herself.  You can find and purchase her art at:

Alia Ettienne



Alia Ettienne is a performer, writer and facilitator who was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. An advocate for mental health, specifically for Black people, her work often deals with themes of mental health and racism in society. Currently, she’s working towards her workshop, Chill N Do Art, going digital as well as on her second show Xiety Complex

View more of her work at and follow her on Instagram @its_aliaj.




Middle is an artist, producer, and engineer from Toronto, Canada. Middle takes an alternative approach to modern-day Hip hop and R&B, bringing a unique twist and refreshing personality to the genres. Middle is known to draw from numerous influences in music to achieve her unprecedented style and sound. 

Middle’s video for Art in Pandemic offers insights into the production of her song, Stuck in Time. After struggling to find motivation amidst the pandemic initially, Middle’s piece explores how this period of reflection led her to discover new sounds and directions within her work.

Listen to Middle’s work on Soundcloud, Spotify, and BeatStars and follow her on Instagram @its.middle.




Cilla is a Black Queer entrepreneur, working as a makeup artist and body painter in Toronto. Having been unable to express herself growing up, Cilla turned to makeup as a tool for storytelling through art. With a love of fashion and editorial, she incorporates patterns, shapes, and brush strokes with the human body.

Being unable to pursue her regular work remotely, Cilla’s video explores how she’s transformed her own body into a tool for art-making. 

See more of her work on Instagram @cilla.w.j.

Accompanying Cilla’s video is an instrumental track produced by Middle, who was showcased last week in Art in Pandemic! Scroll down to watch her piece.

"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

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 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