What a year, friends!
Here at Xpace, we began the decade by saying goodbye to Emily Gove, and thanking her for doing so much during her time as Director: from securing permanent staff positions and advocating for equitable pay and increased opportunities and resources for QTIBPOC emerging and student artists, to many other accomplishments during her five year term with us. Emily- we love and wish you the best of luck with all your future endeavors!
The beginning of the new year also saw an exciting new change, as we had the absolute pleasure of welcoming Alexia Bréard-Anderson into the directorial position, inviting her to envision the future of the space alongside Programming Coordinators Natalie King and Philip Leonard Ocampo. Not even one month into the new year, we found ourselves navigating some unprecedented and critical changes happening in the world around us.. As the systemic injustices and barriers of anti-Black racism, colonial violence, ableism and racial capitalism continue to rage alongside COVID-19, our ways of living shifted drastically and we were reminded once again of the need to keep leaning in, to keep reflecting, to keep showing up:
What is our intention as arts administrators? What histories do we carry, what tools and resources can we bring forward and share with our communities? Recognizing that this is ongoing, lifelong work, how can we hold ourselves accountable and implement structural change to create saf(er) and more accessible environments for those we collaborate with?
Looking back, we’ve generated so much for such a small (but mighty!) team, and we couldn’t have done it without your love, support and dedication. We’ve hosted 20 group and solo exhibitions, and witnessed the stories and collective imaginings of a cohort of incredibly talented artists, curators, writers and designers – while adapting to virtual spheres any way we could. As we each faced challenges and struggles in both our professional and personal lives, we’ve remembered the importance of slowing down, remaining honest about our capacity and checking in with each other.
We hosted 8 workshops throughout the year, offering emerging and student artists tools for navigating tax literacy and intellectual property, documenting artwork and writing exhibition proposals. We also invited community members to share their knowledge on tenant’s rights and cyber-security, and were reminded of the importance of collective and self care through breathwork, mindfulness and intentional movement workshops.
We also held our annual OCADU summer graduate residency, first-ever virtual programming launch party, and collaborated with the OCAD Student Union to support incoming and graduate students. We had the pleasure of hiring and working alongside OCAD students Enna Kim as Programming Assistant, and Paz Pereira-Vega as the graphic designer of our annual VOLUME publication. Although your time with the gallery has since ended, we’re grateful for the opportunity to work with you both, and are so proud of what we were able to create together.
Usually around this time we would be requesting end-of-year donations and hosting a Zine & Maker Holiday Fair, which sadly will not be happening this year. However, we invite you to join us in redirecting your energy and funds to the many incredible community-led initiatives advocating for Black lives, Indigenous sovereignty, affordable housing, food and disability justice.
As an organization that not only supports emerging artists but is also run by emerging arts practitioners and facilitators, the work has never been more important- we recognize the need to continue to show up for our collaborators, much of whom are also our friends, peers, community members and loved ones. And though the future ahead is uncertain and will undoubtedly present even more challenges, we remain excited, ready and hopeful for the year ahead.
Wishing you the safest of holidays and see you in the new year!
Philip Leonard Ocampo