One of the largest art museums in North America, the Art Gallery of Ontario has collection of close to 95,000 works from cutting-edge contemporary art to vast collection by the Group of Seven to works by established and emerging Indigenous Canadian artists. Drawing on this collection—as well as collaborations with museums around the world—the AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, taking special care to showcase diverse and underrepresented artists. And this winter season is no exception.
These are the top programs to attend and exhibitions to view for the 2018-19 winter season, inspired by the powerful representations of Black women in the recently opened exhibition Mickalene Thomas: Femme Noires.
- Explore Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires: This exhibition, developed in a creative partnership between the AGO and the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans, presents a bold new collection of Thomas’s vibrant, colourful and provocative paintings, silkscreens, photographs, time-based media and site-specific installations exploring how Black women are represented in art and popular culture.
- Michael Snow, one of Canada’s preeminent artists whose Walking Women sculpture greets all AGO visitors, turns 90 this December. On Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. Walker Court will fill with the sounds of CCMC, Snow’s pioneering free-improvisation band, as the AGO celebrates Snow’s prolific career. This free and festive celebration will be a night to remember.
- On Dec. 14, Soulpepper Theatre Company will transport visitors to post-war Paris. Reimaging Walker Court as a cabaret club from the 1920’s, through song, dance and music, this one-hour performance will whisk visitors back in time to the days of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Picasso, and Josephine Baker. This event is free with general admission.
- On Jan. 16, the AGO screens Daughters of the Dust at Jackman Hall. Directed by Julie Dash, this seminal 1991 film was the first film by a Black woman filmmaker to be widely screened across the United States. Capturing the Gullah dialect and ways of the African American inhabitants of the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia, the film follows one family at the turn of century as it prepares to move north. on until March 24, 2019.
- On Jan. 18, Toronto artist Nikola Steer, known as Coco Framboise, presents Afro-Dite: HairLoom, a performance and meditation on Black beauty. Drawing from her childhood experience of wearing large braids to school, the artist invites her mother and others to re-braid her hair, against a soundtrack of Black storytelling.
- On Jan. 19, Feb. 9 and March 2, the AGO hosts In the Living Room, a series of conversations programmed by artist Ojo Agi. Free with admission, these conversations will happen inside the exhibition, Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires and will be led by multigenerational artists. Stay tuned for more details.
- On Jan. 23, the AGO welcomes author and two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize Winner Esi Edugyan to discuss her latest book Washington Black and the writing life.
- On Jan. 25, the Black Wimmin Artist network will host a performative dinner, with 100 Black women artists and arts workers, in Walker Court. This event marks the 30th anniversary of Black Wimmin: When and Where We Enter, the first Canadian exhibition to exclusively feature the work of Black women artists and honours its curators Buseje Bailey and Grace Channer.
- Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and more brings masterpieces from around the world to the AGO, including over 100 great paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs and films from the period. February 16 – May 5, 2019
- On Feb. 18, Family Day at the AGO will be inspired by the collage art of Mickalene Thomas – featuring a large scale collage party as well as live musical performance and kids karoke bar.
- Vogue pioneer Twysted Miyake-Mugler hosts a workshop series teaching dancers of all abilities, ages and sexual orientations the basics of Vogueing – a dance style popularized by queer communities of colour in the late 1980’s, as part of Free After Three. The workshop culminates on Wed. Feb. 20 with a Vogue Ball hosted by Kiki Ballroom Alliance in Walker Court from 6 – 8 p.m. Admission is free.
- On Feb. 22, in Jackman Hall, the AGO will host the premiere of award-winning visual artist and filmmaker Shelley Niro’s new work, The Incredible 25th Year of MITZI BEARCLAW.
- On Feb. 24, Nurse joins #1 New York Times bestselling author Angie Thomas in conversation. Following the success of her award-winning novel, The Hate U Give, Thomas will launch her newest book, On the Come Up, at the AGO and dive into her role as a leading voice exploring young Black womanhood.
- On March 13, M. NourbeSe Philip comes to the AGO to discuss her most recent work, Bl_k: Essays and Interviews. Philip explores questions of race, timeliness, art, and the so-called multicultural nation.