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The Toronto Sculpture Garden Reopens June 7, 2018

Karen Kraven: Pins and Needles
June 7 – September 15, 2018

Opening: Thursday, June 7, 5 – 7pm
115 King St East
Toronto, ON
M5C 1G6

For the past three years something hasn't felt quite right about the small intimate park behind the ornate wrought iron gates across from St. James Cathedral on King Street East. It was still shaded by mature trees and filled with the faint sounds of its charming waterfall in the summer months, but people rushed through it, not lingering as before. Without the art installations that regularly occupied it for over 30 years, the space was no longer a destination; it was just another path to get from one place to another.

The City of Toronto’s Arts & Culture Services is pleased to announce that large-scale temporary art installations will once again occupy the Toronto Sculpture Garden. The 2018 exhibition season will present solo projects by Karen Kraven in June, followed by Tony Romano in September.


image
Kraven Knitting, Stratford, Ontario, c. 1965 / Courtesy Karen Kraven

Karen Kraven
Pins and Needles
June 7 – September 15, 2018

Long interested in the ways clothing acts as a trace of the work performed by the human body, Karen Kraven’s Pins and Needles investigates how and where women’s work can be visualized. Inspired by histories of labour action in garment factories in Montreal, Toronto and New York, the installation takes its name from a 1937 Broadway musical revue organized by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) that aimed to garner public support for factory workers. Drawing on the presence of garment factories in her own family history—her father and grandfather owned a sweater factory in Stratford, Ontario—and on archival photographs and oral histories of a ten-week strike by women dressmakers in Toronto in 1931, the sculpture considers how individual and collective histories are intertwined through the making and wearing of clothing and uniforms.

Comprised of ten shapes rendered in marine canvas and lightweight plastic, Pins and Needles disassembles some of the pattern pieces used to make women’s trench coats and reimagines them as sculptural elements. Unmoored from their functional use, these unsewn sleeves, bodices and collars suggest absented bodies but they fail to fit together as one cohesive whole. Exposing the seams that should hold these pieces together, the sculpture evokes the unfinished work of striking: the pieces of wool, felt and interfacing abandoned mid-shift at dusty workstations, and piled high on hooks and hangers across the factory floor. Much like the act of going on strike, Kraven’s textile pieces are spectacularly unproductive but visually enticing, inviting the viewer to imagine other ways of working and organizing in a time of unregulated labour.

- Gabrielle Moser


About The Toronto Sculpture Garden
Between 1981 and 2014 the Sculpture Garden was a popular destination for Toronto’s art community; artists and art lovers filled the garden on warm summer evenings for the openings, celebrating the latest site specific art installation that would own the space for the next several months. This unique initiative was made possible by an inspired partnership between the City of Toronto and by the Luis L. Odette family, who provided the support to operate and program a city park much like an open air art gallery, dedicated to ambitious, high quality, contemporary outdoor art. Expertly run by its director and curator, Rina Greer, the innovative program gave opportunities to over 80 Canadian and international artists over the years to try their hands at large scale installations. For many, it was the experience of working in the Sculpture Garden that allowed them to expand their artistic practice to the challenging field of Public Art. The public, and especially the neighbourhood, grew to greatly appreciate the Sculpture Garden’s art program, learned to embrace the often challenging exhibitions and missed them when they were gone.

The Toronto Sculpture Garden is a partially accessible site.


Contact:
Clara Hargittay
T: (416) 392-4173
E: clara.hargittay@toronto.ca

Catherine Dean
T: (416) 395-0249
E: catherine.dean@toronto.ca

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