Current Exhibitions

Alex Kinsley

Kinsley’s work explores his personal and cultural identity defined by the environment of Hamilton, ON. His recent work, Iron Identity evokes and commemorates this identity through the use of oxides, coarse finishing, and the use of steel.


Thousands of Hands and Objects: Mengnan Qu (August 19 - September 29, 2023)

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August 19 - September 29, 2023
Reception: Saturday, August 19 from 2-4pm
Craft Ontario Gallery, 1106 Queen Street West, Toronto

Work from this exhibition is available for sale in the Craft Ontario online shop.

‘Thousands of Hands and Objects’ is a solo exhibition of enameled silver brooches by jewellery designer and metalsmith Mengnan Qu.

“In Buddhism, the enlightened being Avalokiteshwara (called Guan Yin in Chinese Buddhism) is known as “The One with a Thousand Arms and a Thousand Eyes.” The bodhisattva’s one thousand hands hold holy ritual implements to assist all those who need aid, representing compassion.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused much pain, sadness and stress. The virus made us reconsider the safety of touch; we avoided contact with others as well as high-touch surfaces and objects. It made me realize how reliant we are on physical contact. I like to hold an object, feel its texture and sense the craftsmanship and marks from history. Objects have meaning beyond their function—an object may convey a sense of safety, trigger memory, induce calm or provoke agitation. Anything can function as a sacred implement to help relieve the pain of reality. These everyday objects act like the holy ritual objects in Avalokiteshwara’s thousand hands that bring aid.

In looking at these objects – a microphone, a watering can, a roller skate, a hot dog – our own memories are evoked. This project pushes us to reconsider the objects we use every day; to cherish the materials and artifacts in our lives, and to cherish the natural environment, lives, and resources around us. Though inanimate, objects carry the meanings of lives and act as a testament to our existence.”

– Mengnan Qu

Mengnan Qu is a jewellery designer and metalsmith born in Nanjing, China, and living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She received a BFA in Jewellery Design and Metalsmithing from NSCAD University and then completed her MFA degree at the State University of New York (SUNY) in New Paltz. She is currently teaching at NSCAD University and has previously taught at SUNY New Paltz, the China Academy of Art, Yunnan Arts University and Capital Normal University. She has a perceptive, sensitive eye and mind. Her mixed cultural and educational background provides her with a unique outlook on the world. She reconsiders Western society through traditional Chinese culture and rethinks Chinese society by looking at it from an international perspective. Mengnan's work has been exhibited, awarded and published worldwide.


Thousands of Hands and Objects: Mengnan Qu
Photo documentation by Jocelyn Reynolds.


Mengnan Qu acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

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Craft Ontario exhibitions are supported by the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council.


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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.