The Blackwood Gallery in conjunction with Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative held a banner-making workshop outside the CCT building in preparation for the upcoming global climate strikes.

The Blackwood Gallery invited Mary Tremonte and Jesse Purcell, two artists from the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, to work with students from September 16-20 outside the CCT main entrance to create banners, t-shirts, flags, and signs to be used for the global climate strikes on September 20 and 27.

In discussions with both Mary Tremonte (Artist at Justseeds) and Alison Cooley (Assistant Curator at the Blackwood Gallery), they emphasized the importance of art-making workshops in making every student feel as though they have the power to contribute to a social movement regardless of where they fall on the spectrum of artistic ability.

“A lot of people don’t identify as an artist. They don’t think they can do something creative, but anyone can join in and participate,” said Tremonte.

The workshop had all the materials students needed to create their own art, including markers to colour in pre-sketched designs and create original signs. Students were also provided with paint for painting banners, and large pieces of felt to cut and add different shapes to their work.

The star of the show, however, was the accessible screen-printing station.

“Essentially, screen printing is a fancy stenciling technique. Jesse Purcell prepared silk screens, and all that’s required from students is pulling ink through the screens, and they end up with beautiful designs from a bank of images that Justseeds has been stewarding,” said Cooley.

Any student, of any skill level could work with an artist to create something that they could be proud of and excited about.

“We’re encouraging all students to participate in the fight for our future because this is it,” said

Anila Wahid, a fourth-year VCC student and New Media Assistant at The Blackwood Gallery.

“When it comes to climate change, we often understand it as a scientific issue, one that needs to be dealt with by policy makers, but this is the future of our world, and everyone should care about it,” said Cooley.

The Blackwood Gallery aims to “show students that it’s possible to participate in movements. Students are learning a ton in class, but there’s a disconnect between what we’re learning and how we can live it,” added Cooley.

By opening up an artistic workshop The Blackwood Gallery opens the doors for students to drop by, ask questions about climate change, and learn how they can play an active role in social movements, whether it be by doing research, being active on social media, physically showing up to global climate strikes, or by creating art with other students.

“The act of making art together is part of movement building, it is part of forming relationships and creating the collective identity of having made this art together,” said Tremonte.

According to Cooley and Tremonte, art has a huge role to play in the advancement of social movements. Not just because it fosters a sense of community among activists, but because it spreads awareness of the core issues.

Large signs from an advertising/marketing standpoint help people understand what the core beliefs and action points of a group are.

Tremonte added that art helps us to “visualize not just what we’re against, but what we’re for. Being visionary thinkers about the world we want to see.”

The Blackwood Gallery in collaboration with Tremonte and Purcell successfully created a space at the UTM campus where all students could come together to create art with a shared purpose—to draw attention to the growing issue of climate change, rally support for the global climate strikes, and to envision the future we see for ourselves and the generations after us.

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