Mayworks Festival 2023

All in Together Now Mayworks Festival 2023 poster by Moe Pramanick

Welcoming the 38th Annual Mayworks Festival of Working People & the Arts

May 1-31, 2023, across the Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area and online.

Throughout the month of May, Mayworks Festival presents the realities of contemporary labour in an exciting program of 24 free and public events ranging from art exhibitions, installations and film screenings to panel discussions, workshops and other encounters.

This year’s artists critically investigate various forms of work from arms manufacturing to flower arranging. Their artworks, informed by personal histories of social activism and research, recognize workers as agents of social transformation.

Struggles for better working and living conditions have long guided our most revolutionary movements. Looking back at labour history to imagine future justice, the festival honours the workers who make change possible.

Three new works presented have been developed through Mayworks’ Labour Arts Catalyst where artists are paired with labour justice organizations in a collaborative art making process:

Presented at Whippersnapper Gallery, The Professor’s Desk is a photo based installation by Zinnia Naqvi in collaboration with the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance. The project commemorates the legacies of figures who have publicly spoken out about their experiences and made space for Black, Indigenous, and racialized workers within academic institutions. The Professor’s Desk includes an opening reception with the artist, a discussion with the artist, Professor Kin-Yip Chun and organizer Chris Ramsaroop, and a transit poster outside Spadina Station.

Before the Settlement – Professor Chun’s Desk by Zinnia Naqvi

Canada, Stop Arming Saudi Arabia is a riso-printed copy-left zine created by Sonali Menezes in collaboration with Labour Against the Arms Trade and the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War. The zine will be launched at a silkscreening workshop with the artist and available through mail order.

Presented at Trinity Square Video, All Seeing Work, Forever Work is an installation and workshop by Kamika Peters, developed in conversation with activists from Rising Tide Toronto. Rising Tide Toronto engages in environmental activism through Indigenous solidarity work. The artist invites visitors and participants to explore what it means to overcome isolation, build community and embody action and resistance.

Other presentations at the intersection of art, social justice and labour:

Guest curated by Djenabé Edouard, Here & Home features the work of photographer Felicia Byron, spoken word artist Sydellia Ndiaye and choreographer Shai Buddah in an exhibition that brings visibility to the Afro Caribbean community and celebrates stories of migration, labour and legacy. Presented at Riverdale Hub, the opening reception includes a discussion with Public Service Alliance of Canada exploring familial histories and the socioeconomic system that supports migratory labour but not migrant workers. Its closing reception at Artscape Gibraltar’s Point includes a live performance by Sydellia Ndiaye.

Out of Many, One People by Felicia Byron, a part of Here & Home

Presented in partnership with the Workers Arts & Heritage Centre, Infrastructure of Dissent is a group exhibition curated by Tara Bursey and Mitra Fakhrashrafi. Presenting works by Tings Chak, Hannia Cheng, Rana Nazzal Hamadeh, Lynn Hutchinson Lee & Ingrid Mayrhofer, and Anthony Youssef with Alan Sears, the artists ask: in what ways can we rebuild infrastructures of dissent and foster community power?

Days of Action: Then & Now reflects upon a series of strikes and demonstrations marking historic collective action in the 1990’s organized across Ontario in response to austerity measures. Labour leaders J.P. Hornick (OPSEU), Carolyn Egan (USW) and Chris Wilson (PSAC) moderated by Kevin Taghabon (The Hoser), will discuss what has changed, what has stayed the same and the challenges to organizing broad involvement across workplaces and communities. The discussion, presented at the United Steelworkers Union Hall, will be preceded by a presentation of photographs by Vincenzo Pietropaolo captured during the Days of Action. A retrospective of 50 years of Pietropalo’s work entitled Diversity and Community will be on display at James Rottman Fine Art.

A part of Diversity & Community by ©Vincenzo Pietropaolo

Retrospective film screenings, live music, a museum tour, a book reading and more will also be presented in this year’s festival.

To explore the full festival program, please visit

All Mayworks Festival events are free.

Mayworks Festival of Working People & the Arts annually presents new works by a diverse range of artists, who are both workers and activists. We prioritize the participation of artists and audiences from communities facing systemic discrimination.Our programming offers bold, insightful, responses to pressing issues at the intersection of art, social justice and labour. We are actively engaged in a dialogue that challenges the logics of capitalism and seeks to further our struggles for better working & living conditions.

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Mitra Fakhrashrafi
Curatorial & Programming Coordinator