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.

Sapphira is a singer-songwriter based out of Toronto Canada. She has been singing and writing songs since she was very little and is currently focused on performing and producing her own music. Her musical style and influences vary between gospel, R&B, soul, hip hop, funk, neo soul, jazz and blues. Sapphira’s artistry and lyricism tend to convey personal stories of healing, love, relationships and the human condition. 

Within the pandemic, Sapphira has developed her artistic skills through purchasing new recording equipment as well as tarot decks, and learning to play the keyboard. Using art as a tool for self reflection, she’s also been delving into her solo project Ode to Love: a look of love and relationships, and how we navigate them as a society.

Check out more of Sapphira on Instagram and @Thevoiceofamystic.







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.

Opola Karim




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.

Stephanie Bellefleur



Stephanie Bellefleur is a Contemporary Visual Artist of colour, whose artistic practice incorporates bold colours with strong graphic lines. She has contributed to the unique 23 story “Equilibrium Mural,” alongside International Muralist Okuda San Miguel. Stephanie’s pledge to positively stanchion diversity, inclusion, and equity in the art sector is what led her to the field of choice.

Stephanie’s work integrates elements of traditional fine art with street art, and can be seen on her Instagram @bellefleurhaus. In her piece for Art in Pandemic! Stephanie discusses how this period of introspection has allowed her to explore how she can make her work more diverse, accessible, and equitable.

Morgan (Breath Taking Minutes)




Morgan is a multidisciplinary artist who works in a variety of mediums, including painting, jewelry, screen printing, and photography. Having moved to Toronto from a small town in Northern Ontario, Morgan’s work reflects the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone.

Morgan’s piece for Art in Pandemic! showcases their own art pieces as well as some valuable insights into how they’ve been maintaining their mental wellness throughout this pandemic. You can see more of Morgan’s work on their website here.

M.C. Cruz



M.C. Cruz is a child of Chilean immigrants who has always had a love for creating and storytelling. They have drawn cartoons in Chile, studied film in Vancouver, facilitated film workshops in Toronto, screened a documentary in Spain and painted murals in Morocco. Creating artwork in multiple mediums and languages is what they live for.

Arriving in Morocco just days prior to the country’s national lockdown, M.C. Cruz was forced to make place in a small village amidst the desert. In their video, they discuss how they’ve taken advantage of their new surroundings by sketching outside and starting a graphic novel they never got the opportunity to begin in Toronto.

For more of M.C. Cruz’s work, check out their Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube after watching their video.

Miss Diamond



Miss Diamond is known for her dominating sensuality. She’s a badass who knows exactly what she wants. Strap in because her curves will take you on a bumpy ride that hurts so good, she’ll have you coming back for more. She is unapologetically flawless.

Miss Diamond first took the stage in January of this year, and has since been developing her craft to be showcased in the digital sphere. In June she virtually headlined the Bi+ Pride Party, with a politically-driven performance to Beyonce’s Formation. Watch Miss Diamond’s piece for more insights into this performance, including how she’s pushing the boundaries of traditional burlesque to celebrate and showcase Blackness.

Check out more of Miss Diamond on Instagram.

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

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!

Donate Now

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