Fall 2023 Exhibitions at Varley Art Gallery of Markham

Shantel Miller, Witness, 2023, digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

A Legacy Unfolding

September 16, 2023 to January 7, 2024
Opening Reception: September 29, 2023, 6 PM to 8 PM

In this solo exhibition, Shantel Miller tackles the nuanced relationship between faith, spirituality, and the church, and the ways in which these are expressed within her Jamaican-Canadian community. On view is a new series of figurative paintings and photographs showcasing the people and traditions that make up the Legacy Christian Community Worship Centre in Markham.

The artist captures intimate and quiet moments of reflection and prayer, as well as active manifestations of faith. As in previous works, Miller centres the Black body, examining how it moves through space and exists within it. The artist describes photography as a tool to document, while painting is a means of encountering and expressing what she sees. The combination of both mediums allows Miller to simultaneously observe and reflect on what happens around her.

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Native Art Department International, Woodland Boogie Woogie 6, 2022, acrylic on panel, 172.72 x 147.32 cm. Markham Public Art Collection. Courtesy of the artists.

Woodland Boogie Woogie 6

September 23, 2023 to January 7, 2024
Opening Reception: September 29, 2023, 6 PM to 8 PM

This exhibition features work by Native Art Department International (NADI) alongside pieces from the collections of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham and Markham Public Art. NADI is a long-term collaborative project founded in Brooklyn in 2016, and administered by Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan. NADI works to avoid easy categorization by incorporating unannounced actions, curatorial projects, video screenings, paintings, and mixed-use installations.

The painting Woodland Boogie Woogie 6 exemplifies their collaborative work, which sees each artist taking turns to contribute to the large colorful abstract painting included in this exhibition. Their inspiration, and the name of their series, stems from the Woodland School of Art. The Woodland School’s approach was founded by Norval Morrisseau of the Anishinaabe Nation and taken up by other First Nation artists from the Great Lakes Region in the 1960s and 1970s. The style merged traditional First Nations imagery with elements of modern art and is defined by bold saturated colours and black curvilinear outlines. Focusing on the key aspects of the style, NADI abstracts the iconic colours and forms used by the Woodland School, in order to expand the visual language and continue the cultural conversation.

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Among the Drupes (Elegy for a Wasteland)

July 1, 2023 to January 7, 2024

Multispecies artist and scholar Cole Swanson explores the dynamic and vulnerable life story of the accidental, urban wilderness. For eight months, Swanson built a close relationship with the last remaining groves of staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) on the West Toronto Rail Path, currently under construction. Through video, material process, and installation art, Swanson honours and cares for the site’s wayward ecology in which native, invasive, and naturalized species survive together amidst the precarity of our times. Engaging with Frederick Varley’s field sketches of sumac, and creating a suite of natural materials from the organic, mineral, and human-made constituents of the site, Swanson demonstrates how art can move us to bear witness, attend to, and form unlikely kinships within our more-than-human communities.

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About the Varley Art Gallery of Markham

The Varley Art Gallery of Markham is a vital cultural hub for artists and diverse communities. A municipal gallery, we create critical conversations about Canadian art and society. We inspire local and national audiences to engage with art through outstanding exhibitions and rich public and educational programs relevant to the communities we serve. We support artists from York region and seek to broaden access to the arts for diverse artists and cultural groups. We also share and celebrate the life and work of F.H. Varley, a founding member of the Group of Seven.

The Varley Art Gallery is situated on the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe. We are committed to reconciliation, partnership and enhanced understanding.

Varley Art Gallery of Markham
216 Main Street Unionville, Markham, ON, L3R 2H1
905.477.7000 ext. 3261

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Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 12 PM to 4 PM
Wednesday: 12 PM to 4 PM
Thursday: 12 PM to 4 PM
Friday: 12 PM to 4 PM
Saturday: 10 AM to 5 PM
Sunday: 10 AM to 5 PM

Admission is free. Our venue is accessible, with automatic door openers to enter the building and exhibition spaces. One accessible washroom is available.

For more information, please contact:
Anik Glaude, Curator