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Massclusivity at Harbourfront Centre


I'm not gonna lie... the Harbourfront Centre scares me sometimes. Weekends bring in suburban families by the train-load... Mothers stopping to examine maps, fathers proudly sporting giant fanny packs, kids with faces and fingers glazed in the remnants of what was probably once ice cream. It's as if Mississauga haunts my life even years after moving away.

Okay, maybe that was a bit harsh. In all honesty, it's amazing to see so many people downtown enjoying our waterfront. And aside from my own little quibles, if there's one thing I truly love about the Harbourfront Centre, it's the consistently interesting curation of both the Powerplant Gallery and the York Quay Centre. This particular post though will focus on the latter of the two galleries, with an exhibition of work that embraces hand made design and craft traditions all over the world. This show truly showcases how design can serve as an educational tool for the spread of creative and sustainable forms of aid to developing communities. And what's more, admission is free!

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Curated by Melanie Egan and Toronto-based designer Patty Johnson, Massclusivity brings to light some intriguing global collaborative projects that have been initiated in ways completely counter to the cultural imperialism of the past. Patty writes, "The work in this exhibition genuinely represents mutual collaborations with local craftspeople, collectives, individuals and governments that promotes respect and appreciation for other cultures. The work highlights the techniques and materials that are unique to each culture and takes into consideration the impact that the designs will have on the region's community and economy." Many of the pieces are taken from Patty's North South Project, which served as inspiration for the show. But this show is also a collaborative effort with a number of other artists and designers, all pooling their collective projects.

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What's great about the work shown at Massclusivity isn't just the important causes, but also the fact that these pieces are just flat out beautiful. Even from a common-sense standpoint, one begins to better understand how important the role of the craftsperson, or artist, or designer truly is in the creation of something that can improve your quality of life.

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A definite favorite of mine is Wen-Chi Wang's piece entitled On the go II. This photo doesn't at all do justice to the massive scale of this piece. It is just a simple weaved basket with lights inside, but made to a scale that creates an almost jungle-like feel in the room that it hangs in. Definitely a piece (and a show) that needs to be seen in person.

Massclusivity runs July 14 - Sept 9, 2007 @ the York Quay Centre (inside the Harbourfront Centre). Sun, Tue-Thu 12-6pm. Fri, Sat 12-8pm. Closed on Mondays. Admissions is free.


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