Monday, 7 December 2015




Either I am spending too much time with Musings’ lovely Historic Kitchen contributing editor Leah, or I am too focused on my second year exhibition project, which will be at the Doris McCarthy Gallery and will engage with the topic of diasporic communities and food. These days, I think about food and the experiences associated with it a great deal. Therefore, when MMSt Professor Irina Mihalache suggested that my exhibition teammates and I visit Harbourfront Centre, I could not say no. In the stout building at the water’s edge, the works of twenty-seven artists spread out amongst five exhibitions about food are on display until December 24, 2015.

We did not have a plan for our visit. In fact, we did not realize that we were going to experience five exhibitions until we arrived because we had only heard about one, entitled “Food for Thought.” As a result, I have laid out a five course meal of exhibition reviews for your reading pleasure in the same order our small group visited them. Bon app├ętit!

1. Soup: “Food for Thought”

Perhaps the most diverse mixture of works can be found in a series of consecutive vitrines – one per artist – where you will find works showing food as fashion, words in dialogue with a single plate, a plant actually growing food through an unexpected process, and more

A couple of the vitrines used to display the "Food for Thought" works.
Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

Paige Lindsay's work explores the relationship between food and language.
Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

2. Appetizer: “Forage”

A spacious room filled with multimedia works occupies the middle of the Harbourfront Centre. Some of my favourites include videos from Lisa Myers (a recent artist-in-residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario) projected on two walls, extravagant pottery displayed in another corner, and pieces of felt dyed with natural materials that swirl over a wall.

The entrance to the room that houses "Forage."
Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

A close-up of "Foraged Palette" by Thea Haines.
Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

3. Salad: “Set the Table”

Stunning sets of bowls, plates, and glasses are set in vitrines across from the glass-blowing workspace. The heat radiating from the ovens echoes the processes that formed some of the artworks in this exhibition: fired pottery and glass.

Just a few of the visually stunning pieces in "Set the Table."
Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

4. Main Course: “Trading Places”

The soaring monochromatic photographs of Victoria Piersig chart her journey with a supply of wheat from Thunder Bay, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec, highlighting human-made landscapes as much as the natural world. Piersig was inspired to make this trip after living near a now-empty fortress of a malting factory for three decades.

The entrance to "Trading Places."
Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

5. Dessert: “The Utensil”

Think you know utensils? Think again. Artists have bent, shaped, and reimagined forks, spoons, knives, and other utensils in ways I never thought imaginable in this stunning exhibition!

Utensils made to look like miniature weapons.
Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

I highly recommend visiting the Harbourfront Centre to view these exhibitions and the artist workspaces located there. We luckily had the opportunity to watch glassblowing in progress the day we visited, and there seem to be artists working within the building constantly. All you need is an afternoon, an open mind, and a full stomach, as you will no doubt become hungry wandering through the exhibitions otherwise!

Which order did you visit the exhibitions in, or if you haven’t travelled down to the boardwalk yet, would you plan your visit differently than mine? Do you prefer one exhibition to the others? Would the exhibitions have the same effect apart as they do together? Join in the conversation by commenting below.

I’m eager to hear how you experience the banquet of exhibitions that the Centre has to offer!

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