Erika DeFreitas: it’s because of the shimmer, the verge, and the yet.

Erika DeFreitas, The Black Madonnas of Great Echoes, 2021-2023, collage and gold leaf on paper, 30.5 x 22.9 cm each

Erika DeFreitas
it’s because of the shimmer, the verge, and the yet.

Curated by Sandy Saad-Smith
September 16 – December 9, 2023
Doris McCarthy Gallery, University of Toronto Scarborough

it’s because of the shimmer, the verge, and the yet. is the largest solo exhibition of works by Erika DeFreitas to date. This homecoming show spans a timeline of almost two decades, and serves as an invitation for viewers to become intimately acquainted with DeFreitas’ artistic practice.

Through photography, collage, sculpture, and video, DeFreitas addresses historical and archival absences, centering those who have been marginalized, misrepresented, and erased. Drawing on both personal and cultural histories, she undertakes an ongoing dialogue with a community of historically overlooked women, ruminating on the margins of representability and reframing historic accounts to centre peripheral figures.

DeFreitas’ practice deeply reflects on the notion of loss, post-memory, legacy, and objecthood. She circumvents traditional modes of working, exploring alternate paths in her investigation into the qualities of absence and presence. Guided by intuition, her conceptual approach embraces the spiritual, occupying a space between life and death, past and present, revelation and obscurity.

it’s because of the shimmer, the verge, and the yet. offers a pathway to a new terrain of perspectives. Erika Defreitas’ meditation on loss, death, and history, reckons with and reveals systems of visual and intellectual strategies filled with omissions. She offers a rich, poetic reimagining of an alternate text that attests to the complexity of life and invites us into a realm of transcendental possibilities and new what-ifs.

Erika DeFreitas, video still, on a more monumental scale, 2019, single channel video, no sound, 4:55 minutes.

Reception and Public Programs

All programming is free. For in-person programs, please see the DMG website for visitor information. Please contact with any accommodation needs.

Public Reception
Saturday, September 23, 2 – 4 pm
Free shuttle bus departs the Goldring Centre (100 Devonshire Place) at 1:30 pm, to register contact

Join us to celebrate the opening of it’s because of the shimmer, the verge, and the yet. at this drop-in public reception, including remarks by artist Erika DeFreitas and curator Sandy Saad-Smith. Light refreshments and a cash bar will be offered, all welcome.

Observational Poetry Walk: The shimmer, the verge, and the yet
Saturday, October 21, 3 – 4:30 pm
Registration required:

In this nature poetry walk in the Highland Creek Valley led by poet, educator, and nature artist Sheniz Janmohamed, participants will be encouraged to bring an object of personal significance to them, allowing it to be a companion for their walk. As a group, they will explore the poetry of absence and presence, taking inspiration from negative space as breath for what has been lost. What hugs the corners of absence? What, or who, speaks when we are silent? This gentle walk will give participants to explore these questions in embodied ways. At the end of the walk, participants will create their own nature art pieces guided by the principles of space and form. No writing experience required.

Artist Talk by Erika DeFreitas
Tuesday, October 31, 1 – 2 pm
Registration required:

In this free, public talk, Erika DeFreitas will present on her artistic practice and share images from her two decades of work. Part of the Visiting Artist Lecture Series, co-presented by the Studio program, Department of Arts, Culture & Media, U of T Scarborough.

Curatorial Tour by Sandy Saad-Smith
Thursday, November 9, 1 – 2 pm

Curator Sandy Saad-Smith will lead a free, drop-in exhibition tour of it’s because of the shimmer, the verge, and the yet. speaking about the works and process of developing the exhibition with Erika DeFreitas.

Exhibition Tour with Erika and Cita DeFreitas
Saturday, December 9, 3 – 4 pm

As another expression of their collaborative relationship, Erika DeFreitas and her mother, Cita DeFreitas, will together lead a free, drop-in exhibition tour of it’s because of the shimmer, the verge, and the yet., with a particular focus on the works that feature gestures between mother and daughter.

Erika DeFreitas, detail, The Impossible Speech Act, 2007-2021, archival inkjet prints, 45.7 x 45.7 cm each

Doris McCarthy Gallery
University of Toronto Scarborough
1265 Military Trail
Toronto, Ontario M1C 1A4

Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 11 am to 4 pm; Wednesday, 11 am to 7 pm; Saturday, 11 to 5 pm. Admission is free. Open to the public. The gallery is wheelchair accessible.

Instagram | Facebook

Image descriptions:
1) A series of three collages, each of a female figure, comprising of images of various colourful and patterned fabrics, and jewels. Each figure has two layered heads, one from a statue rendered in black and white, and the other a contemporary Black woman. The heads are surrounded by a gold leaf halo.
2) Video still of two hands viewed from above, resting on top of two small black & white photographs of figurative sculptures.
3) Photographic diptych, each featuring a woman shot from the shoulders up against a grey background. The woman on the left has short dark grey hair and her face is covered in yellow flowers made of icing. The woman on the right has black curly hair, half pulled back, and her face is covered in purple flowers made of icing.