Halifax, Nova Scotia


2013-2014, a year in review

About the project

In the summer of 2013, the Art+Activism@NSCAD Project received a small SSHRC/NSCAD Research Grant from the Office of Academic Affairs and Research. Throughout the 2013/14 year we took this small seed money and created a wonderful array of public talks, exhibitions and projects.

This project was designed to bring together an interdisciplinary array of talent at NSCAD in order to renovate, expand, and deepen NSCAD’s already admirable strengths:

  • a noble history of strong conceptual engagement;
  • a dedication to community-based heirloom and innovative craft practices;
  • traditions of public and civic media in the form of print-making;
  • and perhaps the most sophisticated and dynamic academic capacity of any dedicated art college in Canada.

We are building on the idea that a focus on the terms of Art and Activism would allow us to build in novel ways on the strengths of NSCAD, and to engage new departures from areas of real interest and contemporary strength in the institution. Our ultimate aim with this project was to put NSCAD on the map in relationship to this topic; in other words, to make NSCAD a point of reference and a destination for others interested in art and activism, in particular for making, teaching about, and research related to art and activism.

With the help of this grant, we believe we have begun to accomplish this aim. We know that our numerous activities of the last year have contributed a great deal to the dynamism of the campus environment, to the research, art and scholarship being produced here, and to the renovation and enhancement of NSCAD’s reputation, locally, nationally and internationally.

To do so, we first created a robust web-based platform to help audiences within and beyond NSCAD engage with our programming. This included a comprehensive website ( with additional information about all our events, an events calendar, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, and other social media integration.

The year’s activities in review

Under the auspices of this grant, we organized the following events:

dispatchOn September 13 and 14, the Art and Activism group co-sponsored (with the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group) a visit by the Beehive Collective, a Maine-based artists’ cooperative who specialize in creating murals depicting global events and protests. They delivered a public talk at Dalhousie University and a full-day workshop at NSCAD’s Port Campus.

CHASE JOYNT(1)From September 16-18 the Art and Activism group hosted Chase Joynt, a Toronto-based artist and scholar. During his visit, Chase staged an installation of his work Resisterectomy at the Anna Leonowens Gallery and made three public presentations: “First Person Trans” (September 16) “Teach Me to Question Everything” (September 17), and an artist’s talk (September 18).

On September 24, Dr. Kirsty Robertson, an associate professor of Contemporary Art and Museum Studies at Western University, delivered a talk titled “Art of the Copy: Labor, Originality and Value in the Contemporary Art World and Market” as part of the Art and Activism Project. This talk addressed the rise of the “artists’ village” of Dafen, China, where there is a growing industry for reproducing famous and popular artworks. The talk was held at the lecture theatre of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

silviaandgeorgeFrom October 2-5 the Art and Activism group teamed up with the Radical Imagination Project (a research initiative of which Max Haiven is a co-director) to host renowned international scholars Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis. Their visit coincided with the Halifax People’s History Conference and the Commons 250 Celebrations. Federici and Caffentzis delivered a total of four public lectures in venues throughout Halifax. The Division of Art History and Critical Studies also helped sponsor this visit by supplying accommodations for the visitors.

bravenewAGOn October 9, we hosted Marc James Léger, a Montreal-based scholar and author, who delivered a talk titled “Psychoprotest: Dérives of the Quebec Maple Spring” at the lecture theatre of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

The follow day, October 10, the members of the Art and Activism group joined Léger on a panel at the Tracing the City symposium (chaired by Bruce Barber) at the Khyber Centre for the Arts. Marc Léger presented a paper titled “For a Revolutionary Public Sphere.” Karin Cope presented a paper titled “10 Steps to Launching an Activist Campaign, or What I Learned from Art School.” Carla Taunton presented a paper titled “Decolonizing in the City:Indigenous Performance Art.“ Ericka Wlaker presented a paper titled “Badgered: Visual Culture and the Wisconsin Uprising of 2011.“ And Max Haiven presented a paper titled “Money, Art and the Crisis of Representation.”

Race-is-a-four-letter-word_52227_LGOn November 12, we hosted a screening of Halifax-based film-maker and community organizer Sobaz Benjamin’s documentary Race is a Four Letter Word at the Dalhousie Art Gallery. The screening was followed by a discussion with Benjamin and veteran Halifax-based filmmaker Sylvia D. Hamilton, whose exhibition Excavation: A Site of Memory was on display at the gallery.

InDefense-2On December 4, we hosted a screening of Martha Stiegman and Sherry Pictou’s film In the Same Boat/In Defense of our Treaties about the conflict over Mi’kmaq fishing rights in Bear River and surrounding area. Stiegman and Pictou joined us for the screening, which was held at the Dalhousie University School of Architecture building.

In our final event of 2013, we hosted a Queer Poetry Cafe on December 10 at the Queer Collective’s Gender Pit in the Anna Leonowens Gallery, featuring poets Karin Cope, Blonde Sparrow and Faizal Deen. All members of the audience participated in reading, writing and discussing the radical possibilities of poetry.

Throughout the month of January we were very pleased to host a residency by the Brooklyn, NY-based artist Caroline Woolard, with the support of the Foundation Division, the MFA Program and the Division of Media Arts. Caroline’s practice focuses on creating alternative economic spaces for artistic community resilience. She delivered a public lecture that packed the Bell Auditorium and made six class visits during her residency. She also worked closely with students on several projects. Caroline returned to NSCAD for a week in March to make several more class visits and continue her collaborations.

Meredith-Stern_Birds-of-Prey_Web-290x290On January 10 and 11, we hosted a visit of Rhode Island-based artist Meredith Stern, a founding member of the Just Seeds Artists Cooperative, a print-making collective renowned for the their activist and community-based art practice. Meredith delivered a standing-room-only artists’ talk in NSCAD’s Boardroom on January 10, and the following day, led a printmaking workshop that kicked off the collaborative portfolio project Show of Force (see below).

4115419033_906c4b2b51_zOn March 11, the Art and Activism group, along with the Radical Imagination Project, hosted a community roundtable event titled Art Evicted? Property, Policy, Politics and Potential, which featured representatives of The Eyelevel Gallery, the Khyber Centre for the Arts, the Anna Leonowens Gallery, the Roberts Street Social Centre, and Platform Halifax. The group discussed the present climate, the politics of money and space for artists and organizations in the city, and future possibilities. This event, held at the Bloomfield Centre, was very well attended and generated a great deal of media attention.

On April 3, the Art and Activism group, along with the Radical Imagination Project, hosted a screening of a new open-source documentary film Preempting Dissent with film-maker Greg Elmer, a Canada Research Chair at Ryerson University. This film addresses the increased crimininalization and surveillance of activism and protest since 2001. Who attended, etc. comments

tempjobsOn April 23 we were very pleased to see the launch of Show of Force at Plan B Merchant’s Cooperative, as part of the Mayworks Festival of Workers and Culture. Show of Force was the result of months of work spearheaded by Ericka Walker, which brought students and community-members into the printmaking studios to create works about activism, workers’ rights and social justice in Halifax. The portfolio exchange, which kicked off in January with a workshop with Meredith Stern (see above) saw the production of dozens of prints about a wide variety of topics. In the exhibition, these were paired with works from the Just Seeds Artists Cooperative.

On June 10, we co-sponsored with the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (as part of their annual conference, this year in Halifax) a special live recording of the popular podcast Red Man Laughing, hosted by Anishnaabe/Metis comedian Ryan McMahon. This event brought together NIMAC participants and local scholars and activists for a discussion about the politics and practices of Indigenous cinema.

Future plans

We are currently planning our programming for the Fall 2014.  Stay tuned for more exciting information soon!


Show of Force exhibtion (April 25-May 13)

Part of the Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts

The Art+Activism Collective and Plan B Merchant’s Co­op present a concurrent exhibition of print portfolios relating to labour and social justice in Halifax, NS, and abroad. The exhibition includes a local exchange portfolio ­­created during a social justice/art making public workshop at NSCAD University ­­alongside curated selections from the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative archives.

Pete Yhanke Railand, Temporary Job Gains, screenprint.

The public portfolio was open to any resident or “friend” of Nova Scotia who was able to produce an edition of prints inspired by Nova Scotia’s past, present, or future social justice or labour victories and struggles. The workshop and ensuing discussion and creative output served to connect members of Nova Scotia’s creative community with one another on the grounds of collective interest, using the subversive and transformative power of visual expression.

The Justseeds Co­op is a decentralized network of 24 artists who make print and design work that reflects a radical social, environmental, and political stance. Members hail from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and create projects that speak to the transformative power of personal expression in concert with collective action.

Event Location & Time:
Plan B Merchants Co-op, 2180 Gottingen St
April 25th through May 13th
Opening reception on April 25th 5PM – 8PM
Regular visiting hours: Monday to Sunday 11:00am – 7:00pm
Free admission

Plan B Merchants Co-op, 2180 Gottingen St.

Map here


Art Evicted? Property, Policy, Politics and Potential in Halifax (community roundtable)

TUESDAY, MARCH 11, 5:30pm, at the Bloomfield Centre (2786 Agricola Street), free and open to the public

Facebook event page:

Join representatives of some of Halifax’s (semi-)autonomous art spaces for a community discussion of current developments. With the recent eviction of the The Khyber Centre for the Arts and the Roberts Street Social Centre, the relocation of the Eyelevel Gallery, and the precarious future of the Anna Leonowens Gallery, these seem like dark days for the independent visual arts in Halifax. Yet bold new ideas (like Platform Halifax) are being actualized and communities are being mobilized.

Meanwhile, old problems have new faces: the difficulties of sustaining artist-run and autonomous art spaces on the margin of Canada; the relationship of art/space to gentrification; the difficult dance of art, space, politics and policy; the power of money and the powerlessness of its absence; the vexed question of art’s responsibility to community (and community’s responsibility to art); and the state(s) and fate(s) of the arts in an age of austerity.

The Art and Activism at NSCAD group, in collaboration with The Radical Imagination Project, invite you to a discussion about the past, present and future.

Speakers (TBA) will deliver brief updates and positions, followed by moderated discussion.


Justseeds Collective member Meredith Stern: Workshop and Portfolio Exchange, Jan 10-11

The Art+Activism team is organizing a print portfolio that will be completed and exhibited at the Khyber Center for the Arts with an opening reception on April 25th, 2014. Consider this an open call for anyone who would like to create a print inspired by Nova Scotia’s past, present, or future social justice or labor struggles, victories, and anything in-between. More details below.

To kick off the creation of this portfolio Meredith Stern (, an artist and activist from Providence, Rhode Island will be visiting Halifax and NSCAD on January 10th and 11th. Stern is a member of the Justseeds Artist Collective, a decentralized network of artists committed to making print and design work that reflects a radical social, environmental, and political stance.

On Friday, January 10th at 5:30  (location TBA) Meridith will give a presentation about the projects and art works she has facilitated as a member of the collective. On Saturday, January 11th join us in the NSCAD printmaking studio for a workshop led by Stern. We’ll explore and discuss approaches to creating graphics inspired by the social and political climates that impact our lives as well as strategies for aligning this type of making with collective action.

Participation in this workshop is not limited to those who wish to be a part of the exchange, but those who would like to edition a print for the portfolio are encouraged to attend. Printmaking experience is not required as long as you are able to attend the workshop. Facilities and material access will be discussed. Please RSVP to

We anticipate that the edition size for the portfolio will be between 30 and 40 pieces. Everyone who participates will receive their own portfolio of the works created.

In addition to the exhibition at the Khyber, the portfolio can be exhibited by anyone who participates. The Art+Activism team will be pursuing the publication of a book to catalogue the works created accompanied by essays written by the team. Additionally, one of the portfolios will be reserved for the NSCAD archive.

It is our hope that this project will serve to connect members of Nova Scotia’s creative community with one another on the grounds of collective interest in the subversive and transformative power of expression.

Please direct all inquiries to


Queer Poetry Cafe – Dec 10, 2013

The Queer Poetry Café will be hosted by Karin Cope, Blonde Sparrow and Faizal Deen on Tuesday 10 December 6-9 pm at The Gender Pit (Anna Leonowens Gallery, Hollis Street), Halifax

In 1977, Audre Lorde argued that “poetry is not a luxury” but what “coins the language to express and charter…revolutionary demand….Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.”

In our queer future, everyone is a poet, and poetry is not a luxury. Come make the future happen! No experience necessary. Beverages available for purchase; poetry, paper, mark-making and collage materials freely provided.

Karin Cope in disco drag in Greenland. Photo by Elisabeth Bigras

Karin Cope in disco drag in Greenland.
Photo by Elisabeth Bigras

Karin Cope teaches at NSCAD and thinks every day should contain both poetry and activism. Since 2009, she has produced the Visible Poetry blog at

Blonde Sparrow

Blonde Sparrow

Blonde Sparrow visits from Cape Breton Island with lines and rhymes for warmer times. What happens to those who don’t fly south?

Faizal Deen

Faizal Deen

Faizal Deen writes poetry in Windsor, Ontario under the supervision of Sabrina, an 11-year-old cocker spaniel. Look for Faizal in Kofi Campbell’s forthcoming, The Queer Caribbean Speaks.




Caroline Woolard, NSCAD Art and Activism Artist in Residence, January 2014 (talk: Jan 16)

We at the Art and Activism at NSCAD project are thrilled to announce that Brooklyn-based artist and community organizer Caroline Woolard will be resident at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in January 2014.  Events are currently being planned that will see Caroline make classroom visits and present a workshop/public talk on her phenomenal and inspiring work. Caroline’s residency is made possible with the support of many bodies at NSCAD: The Division of Foundations Studies, the Division of Media Arts, the Multimedia Centre, the MFA program, and the Student Union (SUNSCAD).

UPDATE: Caroline will deliver an artist’s talk on January 16 at 6:30pm in NSCAD’s Bell Auditorium:

Called MoMA: Exchange Cafe, this social space was dedicated to artists and activists that engage in cooperative, alternative, and non-market economies. Parasitic tea from the Feral Trade Network, prison abolitionist milk from Milk Not Jails, and local honey from BeeSpace—products that directly engage the political economy—were be available by exchange only. Instead of paying with legal tender, Exchange Café patrons were invited to make a resource-based currency. MoMA: Exchange Cafe asked: What exchanges are (im)possible here?

Artists Statement for the Exchange Cafe:

In 2013, I waded through MoMA’s collection, hoping to find 20th c. precedents for one-on-one artistic practices of reciprocity that inspire me to heal, dream, and struggle against stagnant wages and austerity measures. I uncovered a few artworks, neither singular nor static, that revolve around voluntary, reciprocal commitments for small groups. Rather than sitting alone on a pedestal, these artworks embrace dialog and labor, making meaning in action as two or more people gather. These artworks refuse to separate production from objecthood; political economy from the presentation of ideas.The Exchange Cafe is dedicated to presenting these works alongside contemporary practices of cooperation and exchange in the arts.

From Caroline’s website:

Caroline Woolard ( is an artist and organizer based in Brooklyn, New York. Making sculptures, furniture, and events, Woolard co-creates spaces for critical exchange, forgotten histories, and plausible futures. Her practice is research-based and collaborative. In 2009, Woolard cofounded three organizations to support collaborative cultural production; three long-term infrastructure projects to support short-term artworks: a studio space, a barter network, and Trade School. Woolard has a studio in the Queens Museum, teaches at the New School, just finished a Fellowship at Eyebeam, and spends time organizing footnote systems as well as candid lectures on failure and incommensurability when she’s not in the archives at the Museum of Modern Art reflecting on a project at MoMA that just closed. By 2018, Woolard hopes to establish a community land trust in New York City with community organizers, computer engineers, and artists who are dedicated to lifelong commoning. Get updates every four months by emailing with subject: “quarterly list”, listen to a talk, look at images, or go to an event listed below.



“In the Same Boat” screening and discussion with the film-makers Marth Stiegman and Sherry Pictou (Dec 4, 1pm)

InDefense-2The Art+Activism@NSCAD project is very pleased to host a screening of the film In the Same Boat, followed by a discussion with the film-makers Martha Stiegman and Sherry Pictou, Wednesday, December 4 at 1pm in the auditorium of the Dalhousie School of Architecture (across Spring Garden Road from the public library.  Map here:

A brief overview.

Two neighboring fishing communities – one Mi’kmaq, the other non-native – both struggling to defend their ways of life.

Shot on Nova Scotia’s legendary Bay of Fundy, In the Same Boat? explores the common ground between indigenous and non-native communities, while showing the very different role fishing plays in both cultures.

Part One, The End of the Line, is a portrait of Terry Farnsworth, the last handliner on the Bay of Fundy. Handlining is the most ecological fishing technology around. It was the foundation of the rural economy in this part of the country; and for Terry, it’s a vocation. These days, most fishing licenses have been bought-up by big companies. As fish stocks plummet, will Terry be forced off the water?

Part Two, In Defense of our Treaties, follows the struggle of Bear River First Nation as they stand up to pressure from the Department of Fisheries (DFO) to sell their treaty rights for a ticket into the commercial fisheries. For the Mi’kmaq, fishing is a right that comes from the Creator, and is protected by the Treaties. In 1999, the Supreme Court recognized those rights, and DFO has signed agreements with 32 of the 34 First Nations in the region. The deals offer money to buy into the commercial fisheries, as long as the Mi’kmaq fish under DFO’s jurisdiction. That’s not good enough for Bear River, one of two communities refusing to sign.

For more information, check out:


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 238 other followers