Episode 9 - border crossings podcast with Beth Helmers

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Sharada Eswar in conversation with theatre artist Beth Helmers

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Border crossings is an exploration of what it means to reach across borders and make them known, to lean into them and share what lies in between and on either side of individual and shared experiences. How can we find ways to come together and honour our own and each other’s distinct and shared experiences?

Beth Helmers is a theatre artist whose work includes directing and collaborative performance creation. Her other interests are puppetry, dance, music and installation art. She is Artistic Director of the Community Arts Guild; in this role, she has the privilege of creating artwork with, by, and for people in East Scarborough alongside a wonderful team of artists and local residents.  She also works regularly with Jumblies Theatre and many community arts and theatre companies. In this episode she talks to us about the challenges and joys of working in a cultural setting that is unfamiliar to her.

What comes to her mind when we say “border crossings”

“Stages of life. I was thinking there are certain times when you feel you have moved into different stages of life. And also witnessing people at different stages of life. And in interacting and connecting which is something I am interested in exploring.”

 Episode Highlights

  1. What is it like working with a community that is not yours?

  2. What are the challenges of working in a cultural setting that is foreign to you?

  3. What is it like being surrounded by people who speak a language that is not the dominant language?

Episode 8 - border crossings podcast with Sheniz Janmohamed

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Sharada Eswar in conversation with Sheniz Janmohamed

LINK TO THE EPISODE

Are you a closet poet ? Are you an artist in pursuit of perfection? Here’s an opportunity to discover a new process of expressing yourself and learning to separate yourself from your work while owning it. 

An author, artist educator, spoken word artist and land artist shares her story about crossing borders with a Persian poetry art-form the "Ghazal" and creating transient sacred spaces through Land Art with making and unmaking "Mandalas". In this episode she talks to us about navigating between permanence and impermanence, perfection and imperfection as artists. 

What comes to her mind when we say “border crossings”

“Borders exist and they don’t exist. It’s a permanence- impermanence balance. Some borders exist because they require to exist for us to live in this reality and some of them are ones that are created by our own minds or by our political differences or by our duality. What’s more important is to understand the nature of the border and whether they exist for a reason and what is the reason and do we need to continue to keep these borders between us and if not then maybe they need to be erased”

 Episode Highlights

  1. Sheniz introduces us to the “Ghazal” and explains the themes that are expressed through the “Ghazal”. She introduces us to the border crossing journey that the art form has gone through over the years- in language, style and in its form

  2. She talks about land art and mandala making and about how she developed this practice. And incorporating the art of writing a Ghazal within the mandala making process

  3. Most Ghazals are based on the concept of “dard” - the pain of separation. Sheniz talks about coping with the pain of letting go and freeing yourself from the concept of perfection through the making and unmaking process.

 

Episode 6 - border crossings podcast with Sid Sharp

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Sid Sharp creates a visual image with words

LINK TO THE EPISODE

Have you ever wondered if your border crossing story is worthy of being shared? Have ever questioned yourself? This episode talks about owning your story and revelling in a joyful affirmation that your story is worth being owned, told and shared.

Toronto based artist and illustrator, Sid Sharp talks to us about sharing their trans journey during the course of illustrating for and conducting workshops for the border crossings project. Sid is the illustrator and artist led workshop facilitator for the border crossings project since 2017 and came out during the course of the project.

What comes to their mind when we say “border crossings”

“I get caught up in all of the injustice surrounding border crossings....I approach it more as an outsider obviously than a person who’s actually been caught up in it is just to be immediately … oh I hate borders and oh it’s all about politics, it's all about people keeping other people away and I still do think that. But it's been interesting throughout this project* to get a more full purview of that. Not just the abstract political construct…”

 Episode Highlights

  1. Sid talks about going through a change in perspective about border crossings from an abstract political concept and as an outsider who is removed from it to an actual personal experience while working on the border crossings project

  2. Sharada shares their experience of working on the project and their own personal border crossing experiences both as a physical experience and a cultural experience

  3. Sid talks about being part of the project before being a trans person and then coming out during the course of the project. They talk about owning your border crossing story and considering it worthy of being documented and shared. The project encouraged them to speak to people about their own experience of coming out as a trans person.

Curious? Read up…

https://www.sidsharp.com/about

 https://www.artgalleryofmississauga.com/new-events/2019/8/8/create-your-own-border-crossing-comic

 http://www2.torontocomics.com/2019/04/29/zineland-terrace-announces-exhibitors-and-programming-for-2019/

Episode 5 - border crossing podcast with Stories from the Listening Wall

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Listening Wall filled with stories and space to add your own story.

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If you’ve walked into the Gallery recently, you’ll see a tall wooden structure which holds colourful paper scrolls. The tall wooden shelf is an abstract representation of the Map of Mississauga and the colourful paper scrolls contain border crossing stories written by the people of Mississauga.

 Since the project’s inception, the border crossings team has collected over 400 stories in various formats and the effort to collect continues. Stories from The Listening Wall is a series of narrations of stories collected from the Mississauga community. It is our humble effort to build an avenue to share and for us to preserve these border crossing stories in our audio library.

 Would you like to share your border crossings stories with us?

Drop in for any of our comic making workshops or just stop by the Gallery and leave us your stories in a format that speaks to you.

We are currently recording video stories at the Gallery every Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 am to 12 pm.

Email us at agm.connect@mississauga.ca

Episode 4 - border crossings podcast with "Manna" narrated by Qurat Dar

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Qurat Dar with her story vessel created in 2018.

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Qurat narrates her poem “Manna” for the border crossings podcast. This is a poem about exploring relationship to faith and religion.

 More from Qurat

 Qurat has poetry forthcoming in The Evansville Review, Augur Magazine, The Temz Review, Anathema Magazine, and KROS Magazine, among others. She is currently part of the Art Gallery of Mississauga’s EMERGENCE artists’ collective. She was also recently a finalist in the 2018 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW) and the 2019 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam (CIPS), placing 4th and 6th in the country, respectively.

Curious? Read up…

http://poets.ca/event/lomp-ft-qurat-dar/

 https://www.thetemzreview.com/qurat-dar.html

 https://www.artgalleryofmississauga.com/emarlab

Episode 3 - border crossings podcast with Qurat Dar

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Sharada Eswar laughs with Qurat Dar

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An engineering student by day, spoken word artist by night and an accomplished environmentalist, Qurat talks about what it feels like to accept oneself and how does one set personal borders

 What comes to her mind when we say “border crossings”

 “Two either places or worlds and the space between them and the margins between them. What it means either to cross from one of those into the next or to exist within that border or that margin area and what it means to kind of navigate between the two of those things...”

Episode Highlights

 1)    Qurat shares her immigration story and the culture shock she experienced at a very early age. She talks about borders around religion and faith. Borders of queerness, gender and learning to accept herself.

2)    She describes how moving out of her parents house, moving from childhood to adulthood and moving from furthered her in her journey of learning to say “No” and in preserving her boundaries.

3)    She talks about crossing borders between the worlds of environmental engineering and spoken word / poetry. Being considered less legitimate as an artist when art is not your full time academic pursuit.

4)    Qurat presents the ceramic story bowl she made as part of a workshop with the border crossings project. She introduces an Arabic verse she’s illustrated on the bowl which is part of a visual representation of what she felt while taking a break from her faith. Navigating the loss of faith was a difficult phase was for her to navigate but she eventually realized it’s more about belief and finding ways to believe without subscribing to a construct.

Curious? Read up…

https://www.thetemzreview.com/qurat-dar.html

 https://www.mississaugaartscouncil.com/members/qurat15/

https://www.cvcfoundation.ca/qurat-is-a-conservation-hero/

Episode 2 - border crossings podcast with Rhéanne Chartrand

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Sharada Eswar in conversation with Rhéanne Chartrand

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In this episode, Métis curator and creative producer, Rhéanne Chartrand, talks about the emergence and development of Indigenous curatorship, key themes, issues, and about bridging the gap between the artist and the community and curation as facilitating a dialogue between artists and their works.

What comes to her mind when we say “border crossings”

“Transgression...rebel nature...people working in, between and across those spaces. All comes back to my own world view, my  own experiences and who I am as an individual and as a Métis person. I have always sat in this liminal space and rather than see that as a barrier or a problem, I leverage that. I leverage the fact that I sit in this in between space. Both from a cultural point of view and a conceptual point of view”

Episode Highlights

1)    Border crossing within a workplace context  - establishing authorship over voice when it comes to curatorial work. And how voice is articulated in promotion. Considering curatorial work as an opportunity to impact the minds and hearts of people

2)    Rhéanne recognizes that she is accountable to numerous people from the Indigenous community. And that her voice represents a huge Indigenous community. She describes using borders as an educational tool for those that you work with. 

3)    What distinguishes Indigenous art practices from various other art practices and how she works with that as a curator. She talks about navigating by moving forward with an open mind and with the audience as the primary focus.

Curious? Read up…

https://www.artgalleryofmississauga.com/niigaanikwewag2

 https://www.thesil.ca/ursula-johnson-challenges-the-treatment-of-indigenous-material-and-linguistic-culture

 https://artmuseum.utoronto.ca/exhibition/sanaugaq-things-made-hand/

Episode 1 - border crossings podcast Introduction

In this episode, Sharada Eswar, community activator at the Art Gallery of Mississauga introduces her gift to the community - the border crossings project. 

She introduces the podcast which is an audio library of conversations about border crossings. She explains why she picked the idea of manifesting the project through stories through a riveting personal story.  

 border crossings is an interactive community engagement lab that uses the transformative power of art to challenge preconceived ideas around both literal and metaphorical boundaries. Through the podcast we explore curiosity and conversations around border crossing experiences. The show takes a procedural presentation approach unfolding themes that are rooted in The AGM's mission - First, New and Next.

 Curious? Read up… 

https://www.artgalleryofmississauga.com/border-crossings-creating-parallel-histories

 https://www.artgalleryofmississauga.com/bordercrossingsproject

https://www.artgalleryofmississauga.com/videos

 https://www.artgalleryofmississauga.com/stories