When Tiffany Schofield, Dorica Manuel, Daniel Griffin Hunt and Danièle Dennis graduated from University of Toronto Scarborough Campus’ (UTSC) Studio arts program, they were faced with a problem: how could they continue to work and have a career in Scarborough? The place that they were living in, had gone to school in, and in some cases grown up in.
It’s no secret, after all, that contemporary arts spaces in Scarborough are rare. In typical millennial fashion, they set out to solve their problem.
Together, they co-founded Y+ Contemporary — an artist-run studio space that offers both exhibition and professional development platforms (including a residency program for high school students and a writing mentorship project) for young and emerging artists. The best part: it’s in Scarborough.
The exhibit on now at Y+, titled In the Shadow of Paradise, is presented as part of the city-wide Myseum Intersections festival, which is dedicated to showcasing diverse perspectives of Toronto’s past, present and future. Curated by Schofield, it features the work of three established contemporary artists — Anique J Jordan, Annie Onyi Cheung and Deirdre Logue — all of whom have roots in Scarborough.
Schofield explains she was interested in bringing the three women together “to see how their work resonated with one another in a way that could hint at shared experience — growing up in Scarborough or how being from Scarborough may have influenced their work in some way.”
Why is Y+ necessary? Schofield’s answer is representation. Exhibited artists from Scarborough showcase to young people growing up here that it is possible to have a professional career as an artist. And the works selected for exhibition — whether by Scarborough natives or not — explore issues and stories relevant to the experiences of the people living here.
What Schofield and her team are doing is a prime example of both the Scarborough and millennial state of mind I know best — create spaces that don’t exist and give back while doing it.