Shifting Ground Symposium

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Shifting Ground: A Making & Thinking Symposium

November 11 – 12, 2022

Harbourfront Centre: Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W, Toronto

In person and live streamed online

Tickets: $40, $25 for students

Purchase Tickets

Co-presented by Harbourfront Centre and Craft Ontario

Organized around the theme of ‘Shifting Ground’, and in collaboration with communities, artists, and arts workers that will shape discussions from multiple perspectives, the Symposium will explore intersections between making and culture; land and materials, education, craft as subversive practice, social activism, community systems/supports and gaps, intersectional practice and values and relationships.

While craft is an artistic endeavour involving the creation of objects, it is also an expanded field of relationships, where meaning is made through practice, collaboration, compromise, and embodied viewpoints that act in the world. Presented in-person and online, the symposium supports access across the country, and fosters critical engagement with craft practice, approaches and ideas.

Generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts

Friday, November 11

1:00 pm - Welcome

1:15 pm - Material and the Immaterial
A conversation with Omar Badrin and Zavisha Chromicz, moderated by Sarah Quinton

Omar Badrin and Zavisha Chromicz combine textile techniques and materials with familiar found objects and multi-media processes. They have developed new physical, conceptual, and digital languages that honour histories and experiences of the self through expressions of vulnerability and well-being. Their work finds form in the material and the immaterial, and includes sculpture, performance, video, and installation. Badrin and Chromicz take great care in making compellingly crafted objects and images where precision, intimacy, and beauty are essential to their interests in self representation.

Omar Badrin is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His practice is based on his personal history and examines identity formation through the lens of transracial adoption (the adoption of a child into a family in which the race of the adoptive parent(s) is different from their own). Badrin’s work is exhibited across Canada and internationally, and he has received numerous grants and awards. He has an MFA from OCAD University and is represented by Birch Contemporary in Toronto.

Zavisha Chromicz self-identifies as a queer fat trans mixed Roma self-taught artist and has been making community-based mixed media and fibre art in Toronto for over 20 years. Their work explores disability in throwaway culture and the joy of queer debauchery and honours the survivors of childhood and ancestral trauma. They have consistently made art as a medicine for survival. Chromicz is represented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art in Toronto.

Sarah Quinton is Curatorial Director Emeritus, Textile Museum of Canada. Her curatorial practice focuses on intersections between contemporary textiles and sculpture, photography, design, and site-specific installations.

2:35 pm - Break

2:50 pm - Black Ecologies
A conversation with Charmaine Lurch and Jérôme Havre, moderated by Nehal El-Hadi

Artists Charmaine Lurch and Jérôme Havre join writer and researcher Nehal El-Hadi for a provocative discussion on nature, mythology, and Blackness. Drawing from the artists' sculptural engagements with environments and their manipulations, this conversation will explore what it means to contend with our current moment through human-environment interactions, desires, and fantasies.

Charmaine Lurch is a multidisciplinary artist whose painting, sculpture, and social engagement reveal the intricacies and complexities of the relationships between us and our environments. Her sculptures, installations, and interventions contend with explorations of space and time and invite analysis into overwhelmingly complex and urgent racial, ecological, and historical reckonings. Lurch has exhibited beyond and throughout Canada, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, the Massillon Museum in Ohio, the National Gallery of Jamaica and a virtual exhibition at WEAD/Platform 3 in Tehran Iran. Lurch’s works have been acquired by several institutions and private collectors including Global Affairs Canada, who has shown her work in EXPO 2021 held in Dubai and Canadian embassies and consulates globally.

Jérôme Havre is a Toronto and Marseille based artist whose practice concentrates on issues of identity, communities and territories and the investigation of the political and sociological processes of contemporary life as they relate to nationalism. Havre adopts a multidisciplinary approach in his exploration of these themes and their attending questions. He uses myriad tools and methods to make tangible the conditions of identity within situations of social transformation. For Havre, the use of a technological process is not only to accomplish a specific task, but a necessary form of expression in and of itself. He has been awarded several grants from the Canada Arts Council, Quebec Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto arts Council and he received travel grant for Germany, Spain, USA and Martinique. Havre completed his graduate studies at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Since 2001 he has exhibited his works in Europe, Africa and North America.

Nehal El-Hadi is a journalist, editor and researcher whose work investigates the relationships between the body (racialised, gendered), place (urban, virtual), and technology (internet, health). Her hybrid digital/material research methods are informed by her training and experience as a science and environmental journalist. Nehal is the Science+Technology Editor at The Conversation Canada, an academic news site, and Editor-in-Chief of Studio Magazine, a biannual print publication dedicated to contemporary Canadian craft and design.

4:00 pm - Dinner Break

6:30 pm - Keynote Address: Denise Bolduc, ShapeShifters

As with the evolution and diversity of the land, waters and animal beings, Indigenous practice also continues to evolve, shift, shape and reshape within the landscape. Relationality is at the core and more often, the commonality is shaped by our direct interaction with land and the stories it holds. This presentation is a reflection on connectivity. It will be a sharing and a consideration of the roots of long-term relationality and how land informs a diversity of practice.

Denise Bolduc is an established creator, director and producer who programs to transform perspectives and activate change. Her career of three decades represents countless contributions and connections with numerous celebrated artists, creative thinkers and leading cultural institutions nationally and internationally. Denise is Anishinaabe and French, born and raised in the Lake Superior-Robinson Huron Treaty Territory, and is a member of the Batchewana First Nation with familial ties in Garden River First Nation.

7:45 pm - Closing Remarks

Saturday, November 12

10:00 am - Welcome

10:15 am - Contemporary Art Jewellery and the Craft Ideal
A conversation with Gabrielle Desmarais and Paul McClure, moderated by Marie-Eve G. Castonguay

The concept of individual creative genius applied to craft was solidified by the studio craft movement. Individual genius is still crucial in current discourses around contemporary craft, notably contemporary art jewellery, which struggles to strip itself from the romanticism of studio craft in order to adopt various distinctive values of third wave craft, where making stands in response to certain politics, fosters community engagement and is embedded in social networks. With the glorification of individual genius comes a never-ending search for the craft ideal: one that is heavily loaded with notions of sacrifice, devotion and commitment. “True” artists are expected to devote themselves to a material or to a technique, to sacrifice their lives for the good of their work, and to constantly transcend our material culture through their practice. This discussion with jewellery artists Gabrielle Desmarais and Paul McClure, led by artist and independent curator Marie-Eve G. Castonguay, will touch upon the impact of such an ideal on the current art jewellery practice and how it resonates with artists today, in a field that is stirred by a changing demographic.

Gabrielle Desmarais is a jeweler who lives and works between Chambly and Montreal. Graduated from the École de joaillerie de Montréal in 2010, Gabrielle stands out for her artistic and aesthetic vision. Following her graduation, she took part in Le Labo (2010), Noel Guyomarc'h's research workshop in Montreal; she continued at the Alchimia jewelry school in Italy (2011) and then explored the many possibilities of textiles at Concordia University in Montreal (2017). She has received various distinctions, prizes and support for her research and experiments. Gabrielle has participated in numerous national and international exhibitions and her jewelry is part of the permanent collections of the Musée des Beaux-Arts Décoratifs de Montreal and the Musée des Artisans du Quebec.
In addition to her practice, she teaches at the Montreal Jewelry school workshops where she shares her passion for jewelry while inviting students to explore the artistic boundaries in crafts and promoting free and uncensored creativity in the field of jewelry in Quebec. Among other things, she acts as a mentor for emerging artisans, in addition to participating as a jury for certain major exhibitions in Quebec.

Paul McClure makes jewellery that is as much about, as it is for, the body. His work is realized through a melding of digital and analogue making that reflects his interests in biology, pathology, mortality, additive manufacturing technologies and traditional jewellery methodologies. He renders microbiological forms like viruses and cells and magnifies them as a way of expressing their power, prevalence and beauty. McClure is a leader in the contemporary craft and design community, an avid educator and professor in the renowned School of Jewellery at George Brown College in Toronto. His work can be found in many public collections including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Canadian Museum of History; Design Museum of Barcelona; Museum of Fine Arts Boston; and National Museums Scotland. He graduated from NSCAD University, Halifax, Canada (BFA, 1989); Escola Massana, Barcelona, Spain; and National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland (MA, 1999). In 2015, McClure received the Saidye Bronfman Award, A Governor General’s Award, Canada’s foremost distinction for excellence in the visual arts.

Marie-Eve G. Castonguay is a jewellery artist, writer and independent curator based in Montreal. She holds a diploma from the École de joaillerie de Québec (2011) as well as a BFA from NSCAD University (2013), after which she completed a four-year residency at Harbourfront Centre. She is currently pursuing a MA in Art History at Concordia University. She has received numerous grants and awards, notably the Jean-Cartier Award in 2020. Her work was included in many exhibitions throughout Canada and internationally.

An active member of the jewellery and craft community, she co-founded MetalAid, a Canadian contemporary jewellery network, and she is currently the Art Jewelry Forum Canadian Ambassador. Recently, she co-curated the touring exhibition Paysage de l’intime, and she is currently curating the Quebec exhibitions at the biennial Révélations, which will take place in Paris in 2023.

11:35 am - Lunch

1:00 pm - Craft & Creative Place Making
A conversation with Tiffany Shaw and Dawn Saunders Dahl, moderated by Jenna Stanton

Creative placemaking leverages the power of arts and culture as a catalyst for community and urban development. Join panelist Tiffany Shaw and Dawn Saunders Dahl, with moderator Jenna Stanton, as they discuss how their individual craft practices and backgrounds impact and influence their work in Creative Placemaking through their work in arts organizations, public art, temporary and built environments. Illustrating how craft skills, creative problem solving, collaborative nature, and community building ethos can be a powerful catalyst in creating dynamic spaces that foster connections, exchanges, the sharing of culture, and engaged/ing community.

Tiffany Shaw’s work oscillates between digital and analogue methodologies to gather notions of craft, memory and atmosphere. Her practice is often guided by communal interventions as a way to engage a lifted understanding of place. While born in Calgary and raised in Edmonton, Shaw’s Métis lineage derives from Fort McMurray via Fort McKay and the Red River. Shaw has a BFA from NSCAD University (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design) and a Masters in Architecture from SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture). She currently works at Reimagine Architects in Edmonton, Alberta and has public art projects across Canada.

Dawn Saunders Dahl attended Red Deer College and has two BFA degrees in Painting and Ceramics from University of the Arts (formerly ACAD) in Calgary. She started her administration work in 2008 with the creation of The Works Indigenous Art Program and in the public art department at the Edmonton Arts Council. Dawn currently works at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Galerie Cite at La Cite Francophone in Edmonton and is the Curator of Indigenous Public Art for the Ottawa Public Library and National Library and Archives Joint Facility (opening in 2024). She is also a board member at the Alberta Craft Council and a member of the Moh'kinsstis Public Art Guiding Circle for the City of Calgary.

Jenna Stanton is a ceramicist, Craft administrator and Creative Placemaker. She received a BFA in ceramics at Alberta College of Art + Design (now AUARTS) in 2003, and a Masters in Ceramic Design in 2012 from Staffordshire University in 'the potteries' of Stoke on Trent, England. Jenna has worked in Craft administration throughout her career, from Craft retail and wholesale, research for artists live/workspaces, as Curator at Medalta international ceramic residency and industrial museum, to her current role as Executive Director at the Alberta Craft Council. In the ceramics she creates and the arts admin that she undertakes both consider function, place, and enriching quality of life through creativity and community building.

2:20 pm - Break

2:35 pm - Craftship/Kinship: The role of Indigenous craft practice in shaping our relation to the world(s) around us
A conversation with Jack Theis, Katherine Boyer, moderated by Justine Woods

Craft practice plays an integral role in the translation and dissemination of Indigenous knowledges between the past, present and future. Stories, teachings and worldviews are embodied within material objects, adornment styles and innovative techniques that gift us with an understanding of our world(s), and the individual and collective responsibilities we have to various kinship relations (both human and more-than-human). Through critical dialogue and conversation, this panel challenges normative Western perspectives of craft by looking towards historical and contemporary examples of Indigenous craft practice that offer alternative ways of thinking about craft as related to community, family, and kinship, alongside Indigenous notions of gender identity and gender roles

Jack Theis is Anishinaabe-Michif from the Bottineau family and a citizen of the Manitoba Métis Federation. He is a bookseller at Birchbark Books & Native Arts in Minneapolis, on occupied Dakota land. Jack grew up in the fashion industry, but gravitated more towards classical drawing and painting. His appreciation for fashion–particularly textiles and embroideries–with which he was raised was eventually reified through his study of beadwork as a means to connect with his ancestors and his peoples. Jack majored in Native Studies and minored in Native languages and is planning to do a PhD in order to research and write about a variety of topics, among them Anishinaabe and Métis fashion histories. Outside of academia, Jack also hopes to continue working in Native film, particularly through historical consulting and by helping to produce Anishinaabe and Métis period costumes. His ultimate cinematic goal is to work on a remake of the 1979 Canadian drama 'Riel', but to get it right this time.

Katherine Boyer (Métis/white Settler) is a multidisciplinary artist, whose work is focused on methods bound to textile arts and the handmade - primarily woodworking and beadwork. Boyer’s art and research encompasses personal family narratives, entwined with Métis history, material culture, architectural spaces (human made and natural). Her work often explores boundaries between two opposing things as an effort to better understand both sides of a perceived dichotomous identity. This manifests in long, slow, and considerate laborious processes that attempt to unravel and better understand history, environmental influences, and personal memories. Boyer has received a BFA from the University of Regina (Sculpture + Printmaking) and an MFA at the University of Manitoba. She currently holds a position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba, School of Art.

Justine Woods is a garment artist, designer, creative scholar, and educator based in Toronto, Ontario. She is currently a doctoral student in the Media and Design Innovation PhD program at Toronto Metropolitan University, and holds a Master of Design from OCAD University and a Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design from Toronto Metropolitan University. Woods’ research and design practice centres fashion and garment-making as practice-based methods of inquiry towards re-stitching alternative worlds that prioritize, celebrate, and mobilize Indigenous resurgence. Her work prioritizes all of the relationships that make up her identity as a Penetanguishene Aabitaawikwe / Halfbreed. Woods was born and raised in Tiny, Ontario and is a member of what is presently known as the Georgian Bay Métis Community.

3:55 pm - Closing Remarks

4:30 - 6:30 pm - Closing Reception, 245 Queens Quay West


Material Sampling Symposium

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Nov 14 - 21, 2020

Explore intersections between making, culture and material innovation:

Co-presented by Harbourfront Centre and Craft Ontario, this online event features talks and panel discussions from fourteen local, national and international craft artists, designers, educators and scientists who focus on materiality in their work.

Saturday, November 14, 1:00 pm
Keynote: Materials Translating Meaning
Seetal Solanki

Sunday, November 15, 1:00 pm
Panel: Material Curiosity 
Glenn Hibbard
Jessica Lertvilai
Cole Swanson
Michael Massie
Moderated by Gord Thompson, Sheridan College

Thursday, November 19, 7:00 pm
Panel: Materials & Meaning Part 1
Cody James Norman
Jonathon Anderson
April Martin
Moderated by Robyn Wilcox, DesignTO Festival

Friday, November 20, 7:00 pm
Panel: Materials Meaning Part 2
Katherine Gray
Jay Havens
Karin Jones
Moderated by Melanie Egan and Janna Hiemstra, Harbourfront Centre and Craft Ontario

Saturday, November 21, 1:00 pm
Panel: Materials and Embodied Learning
Amber Zuber
Brigitte Clavette
Meghan Price
Moderated by Nehal El-Hadi, Studio Magazine

Harbourfront Centre is a not-for-profit cultural centre internationally recognized as a Canadian leader in contemporary arts and ideas. The Craft & Design Studio is an artist-in-residency incubator and training centre that uses a self-directed and transformative learning ethos. We advocate for collaboration between craft, design, and art, and strive to blur the boundaries between disciplines.

Craft Ontario is a non-profit member-based organization for people who love contemporary craft: professional craft artists, collectors, admirers and supporters. By connecting makers and audiences and by collaborating throughout the cultural sector, we strive to cultivate a community that is shaped, motivated and defined by craft. We promote craft and support the careers of craft artists through exhibitions, events, retail, publications, awards, and business tools for creative entrepreneurs.



Canadian Craft Biennial
August 19, 2017 to October 29, 2017

The Art Gallery of Burlington, in collaboration with Craft Ontario, is proud to present the first Canadian Craft Biennial from August 19, 2017 – October 29, 2017. The launch of this inaugural event during Canada’s 150th anniversary will serve as a spotlight to celebrate and educate on the importance of contemporary craft throughout Canada’s diverse history and future. Under the theme Can Craft? Craft Can! the Biennial will explore what and who is ‘Canadian Craft’?

Biennial Call for Entry Banner

Exhibitions: August 19 – October 29, 2017
International Ceramic Exhibition: Anton Reijnders

Biennial Opening Celebrations: Friday September 15, 2017, 6:00 pm-9:00 pm
Lee-Chin Family Gallery, Art Gallery of Burlington

Dutch ceramist Anton Reijnders will present his new work in a solo exhibition.

National Craft Exhibition: Can Craft? Craft Can!

Bringing together seventy makers from across Canada, Can Craft? Craft Can! will present works in glass, ceramics, wood, metal and fibre that address three subthemes exploring ideas of Identity, Sustainability and Materiality.

Craft Ontario Provincial Exhibition: Nothing is Newer than Tradition

Craft Ontario’s Nothing is Newer than Tradition will present the work of emerging Ontario makers that reflect a dedicated engagement with specialized skills and materials. The exhibition will explore how craft materials, tools and processes are creatively reiterated through the hands of a new generation of makers.

Craft Biennial Residencies

Six makers and six writers/scholars from a range of material disciplines will spend ten days discussing and making in a creative national incubator. Makers will provide innovative and exciting possibilities for moving the conversation outside academic discourse and encourage public engagement with issues of tradition and innovation, vernacular and global, hand-made and high-tech. Writers will engage in the discussion to explore new ideas and challenge current craft discourse.

Makers Residency
  • Teresa Burrows
  • Joon Hee Kim
  • Maja Padrov
  • Mia Riley
  • Anne Steves
  • Carolyn Young
Writers Residency
  • Mary Callahan Baumstark
  • Terri Fidelak
  • Julia Krueger
  • Andrew Rabyniuk
  • Sarah Swan
  • Katrina Tompkins
Can Craft? Craft Can! Craft Symposium
Friday September 15, Holiday Inn, Burlington
Saturday September 16, OCAD University, Toronto

Eleven sessions covering a variety of themes and approaches, will be presented by forty-four scholars and makers from around the world.

Symposium Details and Registration

To read more about the featured speakers, please download the full schedule and brochure below.

Full Symposium Schedule



Who We Are

Formerly the Ontario Crafts Council, Craft Ontario is a not-for-profit service organization that works to have craft recognized as a valuable part of life. We promote and celebrate professional craft through providing member opportunities, and advocate for craft practice by educating and empowering diverse audiences.