space project toronto

The Space Project makes it easy for artists to show their work all over Toronto

Toronto isn't a city made for artists: rent is high, shows are expensive to run (unless you're a whiz at writing grants), and we're losing more arts spaces than we're gaining. 

And fewer people are going to art galleries than ever, thanks to the global pandemic. If you're a budding painter or photographer trying to break into the arts scene, now's a pretty difficult time to do it. 

A digital gallery called MakeRoom is trying to even the playing ground for emerging artists — especially for members of BIPOC communities with limited resources — by  projecting their work onto public spaces at night. 

"Toronto is kind is shrinking room for artists," says MakeRoom's founder Trevor Twells. "The average emerging artist can't afford their own exhibit... MakeRoom is reclaiming that lost space." 

Twells, an experimental artist and full-time product designer, founded the platform in 2019.

"As an artist myself, I saw how hard it was to exhibit your own work. My first solo exhibit was out-of-pocket, and even then a lot of it was at a loss." 

With MakeRoom's new exhibition platform, The Space Project, artists don't have to pay a dime to showcase their work. 

All they need to do is submit original art to The Space Project, which features work from a monthly cohort of artists chosen by guest curators. Next month's theme, titled BLVCK, will be curated Patricia Yeboah of HXOUSE

make room toronto

MakeRoom is helping local artists share their work by projecting their art onto spaces across Toronto. Photo courtesy of MakeRoom. Artwork by Nyaomi Boogs. 

Requirements are simple: submissions need to be original work, can't have nudity or graphic depictions, and must be free of hate speech. 

Aside from being viewable online via the Space Project page, the work is currently being projected onto the exterior of the Centre for Social Innovation's location at 192 Spadina Avenue. Projections start at around 7 p.m. daily. 

"It’s almost like an act of rebellion, projecting onto these expensive buildings in a city that's trying to drive us out," says Twells. "We're adapting and changing and showing our work instead." 

#Hashtag Gallery was previously one of MakeRoom's participating arts space, but due to COVID and lack of rent relief, the contemporary art spot moved exclusively online. It follows a number of other galleries that have closed in the last year due to lack of funding, including Parkdale's Margin of Eras Gallery

The shuttering of arts spaces, plus the marked lack of representation of BIPOC artists in Toronto's contemporary galleries, means MakeRoom's work is fundamentally important, even if it's only online, or a projection on a wall. 

Twells says the next step is to start exploring ways for artists to find steady income. Right now, he's running MakeRoom on his own dollar, but sponsorships and advertising could help with that.

Visit the website to check out the artists and a crowd-sourced resource for Black Lives Matter.

Lead photo by

Hady Ashraf via MakeRoom

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