Ryerson art residency creates safe space for trans artists

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By Jaclyn Tansil

Trans and queer artists at Ryerson will be given the chance to get funding for their projects, partake in workshops and be featured in a formal exhibit through the newly-launched Trans Artist Residency.

Evan Roy, the curator of the Trans Artist Residency and one of the coordinators of the Ryerson Trans Collective, said the residency is “used to empower students by focusing on trans and queer issues and on the issues that are affecting their lives — such as identity, and power and how these things intersect with art.”

They began planning the residency in September and it took three months to realize their vision by going through an approval process and receiving funding approval. Starting in early May, the residency will provide professional workshops, art funding and a formal exhibition at the Ryerson Artspace near Pride weekend on June 30. The application deadline for the residency was formally set to Feb. 26, but applicants may still be accepted until their start date.

“These [types of] residencies are so rare and infrequent … it’s really the only one I’ve heard of for students,” said Roy. “It is great for the applicants to have some income. Have some training because they are so financially strained already. We also realized that there isn’t much opportunity not to show work, but to gain an education. That was the real key focus of this residency.”

The art workshops will be selected by the residency applicants and Roy will hire local trans and queer artists who specialize in certain fields to conduct them.

Roy approached Ryerson Artspace, a faculty and student-run gallery on Queen Street West, to take part in the residency and help provide the exposure needed for trans and queer students to exhibit their pieces.

“The hope is that … trans and queer artists can … exhibit work while engaging with like-minded artists and individuals,” said Robyn Cumming, the faculty advisor and gallery director at the artspace. “We hope to help make this work visible to a larger audience, especially an audience that may not normally have exposure to the dialogue and issues present and important within this community.”

The Trans Artist Residency was funded from various sources within Ryerson, one of them being the Faculty of Communication and Design and another being the Student Initiative Fund.

Markus Harwood-Jones, a residency applicant and a co-coordinator of the Trans Collective, said they are looking forward to the residency to meet new artists.

“I applied because I thought it would be a great opportunity for trans artists to connect with other queer and trans artists and to develop my work in a new way,” said Harwood-Jones. “I am not a formally trained artist and I am not an art student, and I thought it would be really nice to learn some technique and make a connection.”

Harwood-Jones is also planning on finishing their original film Mosaic, along with collaborating with other painters and writers.

“Because I am already really involved within the trans community in Toronto, I’m kind of hoping that the trans and queer residency will introduce me to some new people and offer some more opportunities to revisit those old connections,” said Harwood-Jones.

“I try to use my art to try and tell stories and I am excited on taking my work as an author and illustrator to the next level.”

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