Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter lightbox program opens with Morris Lum’s Meeting Places


Morris Lum, Chinese Freemasons, Toronto, 2017. Courtesy the artist.

Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter
A multi-part lightbox series

September 13, 2021–August 28, 2022

Artists: Asinnajaq & Camille Usher, Nydia Blas, Widline Cadet, Michèle Pearson Clarke, Jasmine Clark, Ali Eyal, Emily Jacir, Jenny Lin, Morris Lum, Sydney Pickering, Walid Raad, Zainab Sidera, and more to be announced.

Curatorial Consortium: Amin Alsaden, Noor Bhangu, Letticia Cosbert Miller, Ronald Rose-Antoinette, Becca Taylor, Ellyn Walker

Educator-in-Residence: Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan

The Blackwood is pleased to announce the launch of Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter, a six-part lightbox series on the University of Toronto Mississauga campus, opening September 13, 2021 with Morris Lum’s Meeting Places.

Over the course of spring-summer 2021, a group of independent curators met during a series of working sessions to curate a public lightbox program on the UTM campus for the 2021–2022 academic year. The Curatorial Consortium fosters a unique connective and dialogical space in which to hold commonalities, in an effort to think together through negotiating differences. The resulting program, Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter, responds to this exercise in collaborative composition while honouring the independent thinking that makes group work possible—at a moment when the need to protect independent thought and academic freedom (within and beyond the university) is both palpable and deeply urgent.

For the full curatorial statement, please visit the Blackwood website. Virtual programming and interpretive materials will be released throughout the series.

Meeting Places
Morris Lum

September 13–October 31, 2021
Curated by Ellyn Walker


Morris Lum, Logos Baptist Church Gym, Mississauga, 2015. Courtesy the artist.

What are gathering spaces when they become un-gathered? Do sites of community still feel communal when they are empty? Is one’s presence still felt in their physical absence? Morris Lum’s images in Meeting Places foreground these questions, documenting important spaces of gathering when they are starkly vacant. Photographed before the COVID-19 pandemic, the emptied spaces within Lum’s images now take on new meanings—after being mandated closed over the past year due to unprecedented public health measures. With a return to UTM’s campus in fall 2021, these images continue to accrue new meaning as communities navigate shifting conditions of social exchange and cultural gathering.

Images from Lum’s ongoing photographic series’ Tong Yan Gaai (唐人街) and Places of Worship (both of which document Chinese-Canadian histories of community-building in Ontario and beyond) show how spaces like churches, community centres, and family associations hold multiple meanings—in their presence as well as their absence. They also reveal their multi-purpose nature: In the images, familiar architectural features like stage platforms, furniture such as stacked folding chairs, and objects like music stands and speakers point to the many ways in which they are used, such as for concerts, daycare, counselling, rehearsal and more—both inside and outside of the Chinese diaspora.

What do these images tell us about how we form community? What do they tell us about the ongoing importance of community-building and community space? What does this mean for community in the absence of gathering space? What other efforts to create community, support elders, connect with Chinese-language and cultural practices, or do mutual aid work are ongoing throughout the pandemic? How do the kinds of spaces pictured in Lum’s photographs represent the resilience of community in a time of separation?

These images speak about finding ways to cultivate community even when spaces to connect with each other must be carved out of difficult conditions—true of histories of Chinese immigration and settlement in Canada, and heightened realities of white supremacy, xenophobia, anti-Chinese and anti-Asian racism exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Respondent Program

Across the six-part lightbox series Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter, each curator activates a Respondent Program that brings artists into dialogue with an image set. The Blackwood is pleased to welcome Shellie Zhang to respond to Meeting Places. Zhang will reflect on the cultural significance of different Mississauga sites in conversation with Morris Lum.

Attunement Sessions

Facilitated by Educator-in-Residence Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan, six interdisciplinary practitioners have been invited to develop an Attunement Session that responds to an image set with prompts that challenge viewers to open new ways of understanding what we see. Each of these sessions offer pedagogic tools to assist audiences with “tuning-in” by means of embodiment, perception, texture, joy, meditation, encounter, touch, intimacy, sound, intuition, or other senses. In the first Session, Strategic Designer and Creative Urbanist Howard Tam responds to Meeting Places.

The Blackwood gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the University of Toronto Mississauga.


The Blackwood
University of Toronto Mississauga
3359 Mississauga Rd.
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6
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Please note: The Blackwood’s gallery spaces are currently closed to the public. Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter is FREE and open to the public, and accessible 24 hours a day in four outdoor lightboxes across the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus. Some movement throughout the campus is required—ramps and curb cuts are in place across the University premises.

Please respect social distancing protocols while on campus.

Image descriptions:
1) The interior of Chinese Freemasons temple with a red and white vinyl checkered floor and a drop tile ceiling in the foreground. In the back of the room is a red stage. Next to the stage to its left and right are red curtains with two exit doors on the wall behind them. The entire room is ornamented with primarily red and white decorations.
2) A gymnasium with a vinyl basketball court in the foreground. In the background is a wooden stage with a set of steps leading to it. On the stage are two faux plants and various stage equipment arranged symmetrically. Next to the stage are two wall-hung banners with religious imagery and two loudspeakers.