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Talking back and together

In a new five-part video series, the AGO and Workman Arts are joining together to empower artists exploring mental health awareness and advocacy. We spoke with Kais Padamshi of Workman Arts to introduce this artist-driven initiative.

Workman Artists

Workman Artists from left to right: Amanda Lederle, Hanan Hazime, Nicholas Ridiculous, Apanaki Temitayo and Jenny Chen. Image courtesy of the artists.

October 10 marks the 29th World Mental Health Day, a day to draw attention to the realities of mental health around the globe through awareness and action. 

For more than 30 years as a Toronto-based multidisciplinary arts organization, Workman Arts has been leading these kinds of conversations about mental health and addiction through artistic expression. The conversation continues with a new collaboration with the AGO, Talking back and together, set to premiere later this month, just days after World Mental Health Day. Driven by a shared mission at the AGO and Workman Arts to empower emerging artists, artists from the Workman Arts community will each explore their practices in a five-part video series hosted on the AGO’s Facebook page.

Amanda Lederle opens the series on Friday, October 15, with Hanan HazimeNicholas Ridiculous, Apanaki Temitayo and Jenny Chen presenting until early 2022, working across media and pulling from their own lived experiences. Audiences are invited to engage in critical discussions about neurodiversity, gender, race, spirituality, representation in the museum space and much more. We spoke with Kais Padamshi, Interim Public Programming and Partnerships Manager at Workman Arts, to learn more before tuning in.

AGOinsider: How did this video series and partnership with the AGO come together? 

Padamshi: This series between Workman Arts and the AGO originated through a shared desire and obligation in wanting to increase awareness related to accessing art from a public, artistic and culturally representative lens, in addition to empowering artists to speak their truth. We sought to do this by providing them with a platform to connect with various communities and the wider public. In this video series, the artists will share their personal revelations, practices and topics of interest to inspire conversation and advocate for the transformation in how the public engages with the arts, especially with consideration of the realities of mental health.

Given that Workman Arts supports artists living with mental health and addiction issues through all aspects of our programming, including peer-to-peer arts education, public presentations and partnerships with the broader arts community, the "Access to Art" partnership with the AGO calls on art and cultural institutions to contribute to greater advocacy efforts in creating inclusive environments.

AGOinsider: This series brings together a range of artistic voices from diverse backgrounds and origins. How were the artists selected? 

Padamshi: The artists were selected based on their ongoing advocacy efforts within their own communities, especially those conducted through Workman Arts. They inspire their peers with their art, model leadership qualities and are of diverse backgrounds in relation to their art practice and cultural origins.

AGOinsider: In light of World Mental Health Day on October 10, what can audiences expect to discover about the intersections between mental health and the arts through this series? 

Padamshi: Audiences can expect to uncover and be challenged by a wide range of insights through personal performances, artist talks and even educational art tutorials. The artists will unveil the nuances of how mental health and the arts converse and inform each other. We invite audiences to re-imagine what art organizations, institutions, and the overall arts sector can do to create inclusive environments that reflect cultural and mental health diversity.

To find out more information about the artists, including how to watch their videos, visit the AGO’s Events Calendar

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