Special Projects

Making With Place

Banner image: an invitation (formerly known as No Nos Toquen, Don’t Touch Us) Mural by Jess De Vitt and Susie Mensah, at Queen and Abell. Photo by Jahmal Nugent.

Art made in public space can have powerful impact. During global pandemic and the global fight against anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, public art or art made in collaboration with place, has been illuminating social injustice and bringing people together to catalyze change.

“Research team watching Animal Crossings projection by Jahmal Nugent at the Bentway. Photo by Jahmal Nugent.”


“Collaborative Banners by MWP team installed at the Bentway. Photo by Jahmal Nugent.”


Making with Place (MWP) is a research project of York University graduate students in collaboration with young artist-researchers offering diverse perspectives of self-identified lived experiences of navigating various imposed marginalizations and precarities. MWP explores the knowledges created, surfaced and artfully expressed in public spaces (physically or virtually) with and by young art makers, that offer new relationships and understandings of place, community and culture.

This project challenges fixed ideas, confronts society’s stigma and provokes the unlearning necessary to realize much-needed social and cultural shifts. Overarching goals:

  • to explore artistic practice and production in connection with place, as knowledge production (a way of knowing, a mode of inquiry), and as tools for liberation and creative resistance
  • to research the art/creative activations in public space/place, capturing (and affirming), desires of young people with lived experience of “the margins”, for culture, community and systems
  • to challenge the primacy of colonial knowledge, (re)surface wisdom and generate hope


The project engaged the following artist-researchers:


Jess De Vitt (they/she)

Jess is a community visual artist educator, freelance designer and curatorial graduate. Jess is interested in creating socially engaged art, in a framework that holds inclusive practices, accessibility and transformative justice to collaborate and share experiences.

Jahmal Nugent (aka Ninjahmal)

Visual media artist Jahmal Nugent, born, raised and based in Toronto, primarily focused on digital photography and videography to create but sometimes experiments with physical mediums also. Their works mostly focus on seeing the ordinary as extraordinary and reminding us of how beautiful and amazing elements we take for granted, can be.

Priya “Pree” Rehal (they/them)

Pree is an artist educator currently based in Tkaronto, originally from Tiohtià:ke. They’re the children of immigrant settlers from Punjab. Pree’s work centres centres their identity as a queer, non-binary, trans, disabled, fat, and racialized individual. They have an interdisciplinary arts practice under the name: Sticky Mangos and co-founded the Non-Binary Colour Collective. You can read Pree’s research notes from the Making with Place project online and follow their arts practice on Instagram: @StickyMangos.

Ammarah Syed (any pronouns)

Ammarah is an interdisciplinary artist interested in documenting how modern day discourses such as capitalism, colonialism, and various power dynamics have developed to inform mental health, identity and sexuality. Ammarican explores in her work, how words among other factors, influence emotion, culture and politics. AmmariCan’t Even, Ammarah’s performance alter-ego, likes to deconstruct and explore the little boxes our society and our minds like to put us in. Both of their processes involve sitting on their ass for 8 weeks (contemplating of course) & then creating something all in one go. They aspire to use the arts as a means to transform oppression into change.

Instagram: @ammarican

Olympia Trypis (they/she)

Olympia is an artist who doesn’t like labels, identifies as a human who is trying to live and create in harmony with earth, which is our home.

Bert Whitecrow (they)

Bert is a 2 Spirited, Anishinaabe multidisciplinary artist from Seine River First Nation. Their work explores themes of healing, preserving and practicing ancestral knowledge. As a conceptual artist, Bert works with a variety of media, often combining traditional and unconventional materials. They are a founding member of the Weave and Mend collective, which is a mixed Indigenous collective that focuses on building relationships with Indigenous communities through art making workshops, facilitated conversation and permaculture. Bert is currently attending their fourth year at OCAD University in the Indigenous Visual Cultures program.

Ayrah Taerb

Ayrah Taerb Is The Founder Of Kundalini Kurrency Khansultancy; A Collective Of Creative Professionals & Administrators Who Seek To Spread The Values Of Self Determination & Co Operative Economics Among The Global Black Community.

As An Executive Producer, Creative Consultant, and Embodiment Instructor; He Is Equipped With The Skills & Expertise Required To Develop Artists, Mentor Professionals, and Responsibly Condition Children & Youth To Exist Within The Context Of A Transcendental Society.



A cinematic experience by Jahmal Nugent (aka Ninjahmal)

Audio-Imagery, for places of loss, grief, resistance, transformation by Charlotte Lombardo

Acknowledge place – Honour spirit by Bert Whitecrow


Along with York graduate students from the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, Phyllis Novak and Charlotte Lombardo. The project is guided by York professors and researchers, Sarah Flicker and Lisa Myers.

“Medicine Mobile Installation at the Bentway by Olympia Trypis. Photo by Jahmal Nugent.”



Stay tuned for the Making with Place Journal-zine to be launched end of November at makingwithplace.ca.

Learn More About Making With Place

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Making with Place is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.