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Gustav Weisman, Untitled, 1951, tempera on board, 30.48 x 40.64 cm,
Collection of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham,
Gift of Ina-Marie and Moshe Dobner, 2012.7.

Inscapes Exhibition

September 15 — January 6, 2019

Location: Varley Art Gallery
216 Main Street Unionville map

Here’s to the stories yet to be told

 - Alejandra Ribera, “Led Me to You,” This Island, 2017

Art gallery collections grow over time to include works produced in various mediums and dating from various historical periods. Artworks created before our time may appear quaint, even old-fashioned, while newer ones may engage with contemporary concerns, yet challenge our definition of art itself. Thematic group shows, are, at their core, an opportunity to place such disparate works into conversations with each other.  What seems at first glance to be a forced or awkward pairing, may, ultimately, offer new and exciting readings.

Featuring works from the Varley Art Gallery of Markham’s permanent collection, Inscapes explores the landscape genre and considers the relationship between it and the natural world it depicts.  Nathalie Desmet has said, “The tradition of landscape painting is in some way responsible for distancing us from nature, for making us forget that nature is an experiential place.” If this is true, how do we, as viewers, relate to images of landscape on a personal or even sensorial level?  If we look beyond the intent of the artist and rely on our own individual experiences of the natural world, how does that process affect the ways in which we see and understand the artworks in this room?

This exhibition focuses on representations of the places we inhabit, whether they be physical or imagined. Seascapes, snowscapes, cityscapes, and even mindscapes, are generic terms used to describe the types of environments represented within an artwork. An “inscape,” on the other hand, is defined as the essential quality of a particular human being, object or location.  In order to highlight such qualities among the works on display, contemporary writers have been invited to produce original texts in response to them. This cross-disciplinary approach seeks to expand the possible readings of artworks by offering new interpretations, by creating new stories, and bringing to our attention contemporary ideas and concerns.  Hopefully, these new texts will allow us to remove the frames limiting our perceptions of the scenes depicted and allow our imaginations to expand beyond the confines of their borders.

About the Writers

Pushpa Raj Acharya is a poet born in Nepal. He travels among languages and landscapes. He has collaborated with musicians, artists, community workers, and other poets. His first book Chhayakal, "The Phantom Time" (FinePrint, 2006) was in Nepali, and the second collection of poetry, Dream Catcher (Vajra Publications, 2012) was in English. He collaborated with an artist and two other poets to produce Somnio: The Way We See It  (TiPSY Press, 2015)--a book project that received the Cultural Diversity Grant from the Edmonton Arts Council. Currently, he is writing a doctoral dissertation in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto.

Sheniz Janmohamed (MFA) is an author, artist educator and spoken word artist and occasional land artist. She has performed nationally and internationally for over 10 years and has been featured at various venues including the Jaipur Literature Festival, TedxYouth@Toronto, and the Aga Khan Museum. She is also the author of two collections of poetry: Bleeding Light (Mawenzi House, 2010) and  Firesmoke (Mawenzi House, 2014). 

Through Mariposa-in- the-Schools, Sheniz visits dozens of schools and libraries each year to teach, perform, and inspire creativity in her students. Sheniz has served as a Mentor-Artist for the Digital Media Arts Program at the Royal Conservatory, and was the 2015 recipient of the Lois Birkenshaw-Fleming Creative Teaching Scholarship. She is a firm believer in fostering community through collaboration, compassion and creativity. In her own practice, she strives to embody her words through performance, nature mandala-making and writing in the ghazal form. To learn more about Sheniz, visit:

Whitney French is a writer, storyteller and arts-educator. Her writing has been published in Quill and Quire, Geist, WRITE Magazine and anthologized in The Black Notes (2017) and The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry (2010). Whitney also the founder and co-editor of the nation-wide publication From the Root Zine as well as the founder of the workshop series Writing While Black: an initiative to develop a community of black writers. Whitney French is presently working on an anthology of creative nonfiction by black Canadians for the University of Regina Press.

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