Art Gallery of York University
The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) is a non-profit, contemporary, university-affiliated public art gallery established in 1988. It is supported by The Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of Ontario through the Ontario Arts Council, and the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council. Departing from the notion of “out there,” the AGYU is an artistically and intellectually driven public art gallery dedicated to manifesting contemporary art through diverse cultural circuits by continuously, and simultaneously, creating and transcending contexts.
The AGYU aims to be a socially progressive contemporary art gallery operating at the forefront internationally of new curatorial directions and to be responsive to Canadian artists by developing their first major institutional exhibitions and first publications. We present international artists from a Canadian point of view and develop innovative projects with Jane and Finch youth, First Nations, queer/trans and people of colour; projects that are not only defined as outreach but “in-reach” as well. Our intention is to extend the public intellectual role of the contemporary art gallery: through public advocacy for artists and contemporary culture; through advocacy and engagement with large, yet marginalized communities and York’s/GTA’s diverse audiences through contemporary art; and through a major publication program of scholarly books, monographs, catalogues, artist books, and chap-books. We are committed to taking risks with our programming believing that contemporary art (and the institutions that present it) should serve a social as well as aesthetic function.
Out there, we have created a new type of public art gallery—a creative institution that performs in public in concert with artists and that is transformed in its social function according to the audiences, communities, and collaborators it works with. Not only has the AGYU transformed relations with artists, integrating them into all its functions and activities, it is socially transforming itself through the actions of artists working with communities. For the AGYU, an ethos of working with artists has become an ethos of working with communities.
For the past decade, AGYU Assistant Director/Curator Emelie Chhangur (curator of Ring of Fire) has expanded AGYU’s artistic direction by putting engagement with the wider cultural milieu of Toronto at the forefront of our institutional practice. In addition to bringing objects and artworks into dialogue, her curatorial approach sets in motion relations between people, ideas, and spaces, and incorporates different viewpoints and forms of artistic production in a constellational form of knowledge production based on participatory, socially engaged, and activist art practices. Chhangur is interested in exploring the ethical implications of this practice and consequently to open up the power structures that often exclude non-artists from participating in the development of the cultural context of the places they live and the galleries that are supposed to “represent” them.
Special thank you to: Philip Monk (Director), Suzanne Carte (Assistant Curator), Michael Maranda (Assistant Curator), Allyson Adley (Education and Collections Assistant), Karen Pellegrino (Administrative Secretary), Shannon Saint (Curatorial Assistant), Maju Tavera (Gallery Assistant), Megan Norwich R. (Gallery Assistant), Sarah Christopher (Gallery Assistant).