Without a doubt, 2020 was a difficult year for all of us; and like most organizations, the pandemic had a profound effect on our programming and plans. We started the year with a new Artistic Director and some big goals. We had hoped to grow our downtown arts drop-in and emerging youth arts collective into stable, long-term programming; but with the onslaught of Covid-19 in March, these plans were immediately put on hold. Other projects, including a workshop series with Cecil Facer Youth Centre, a participatory eco-art project, and two ‘zine projects, we either re-designed, cancelled, or postponed indefinitely. While we remain hopeful we’ll be able to re-visit some of these projects at some point, it remains unclear when we’ll be able to safely do so.

That being said, despite a challenging year, we still managed to complete several projects that engaged Sudburians in collaborative art creation and contributed to the local arts community, provided paid opportunities to local artists and arts workers, and offered support to community members disproportionately impacted by Covid-19.

Virtual Eco-Art Workshop Series /// In partnership with Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury

Following a series of conversations with a small group of local artists and activists, we began work on a series of three gatherings centred on the climate crisis. These were planned to be in-person gatherings and would have brought a group of Toronto-based artists to Sudbury to explore the climate crisis as it relates to issues of Indigenous sovereignty and migrant rights. These plans became unfeasible with Covid-19 but the group was committed to adapting the project for a virtual space, leading to the development of You Are the Commons – Gifts to the Earth and She is Awakening – Emerging through Art + Sound.

You Are the Commons – Gifts to the Earth – In April, local artist Elyse Portal led a virtual visualization workshop that invited participants to “dissolve some of our feelings of isolation with an imaginative journey to nature,” followed by an eco art-making activity in celebration of Earth Day.

She is Awakening – Emerging through Art + Sound – Led by local artist Emilio Portal, this virtual collaborative project invited folks from all over to submit sound recordings from nature. In total, we received more than 60 submissions that were then weaved together to create the almost 30-minute soundscape titled She is Awakening. The project was featured on CBC Morning North.

This work was the basis for She is Awakening: Part 2, a 10-track album featuring seven local artists, poets, and musicians, including: Will Morin, Darlene, Kiyan Lautenschlager (World Peace), Polly Kultur, Emilie Carrey (Sparx), Daniel Aubin, and Antoine Tremblay Beaulieu.

This virtual workshop series was made possible thanks to funding from the Catherine Donnelly Foundation.

Summer Redistribution Program in Memorial Park /// In partnership with Sudbury Street Arts

In November 2019, we collaborated with community artist and advocate, Abbey Jackson, to launch Sudbury Street Arts, a free, weekly arts drop-in for folks navigating homelessness and extreme poverty. Unfortunately, Covid-19 disrupted these activities and left many without access to the supports and services necessary to meet their basic needs. In response, we launched a summer redistribution program that provided a light meal, hygiene products, art materials, camping gear, and other essential items to more than 40 folks each week in Memorial Park. Items were collected through a community call-out or purchased through fundraising dollars. With regular donations of fresh produce and baking from community members, and additional contributions from local businesses (shout out to Watercrow Studio and The Nickel Refillery!), we were been blown away by the community support received.

A short video piece documenting this work is currently in production, featuring a spoken word piece by Blaine Thornton alongside interviews with community members. Titled Ode to Memorial Park, it will be released in 2021.

While Myths and Mirrors will continue to support folks experiencing poverty and homelessness in the downtown area through our outreach and programming, Sudbury Street Arts is no longer a Myths and Mirrors project, now operating as it’s own initiative. We thank Abbey for her vision, work, and contributions to this project. To learn more about Sudbury Street Arts, visit @sudburystreetarts on Instagram.

This work was made possible thanks to funding from the Catherine Donnelly Foundation and Canada Summer Jobs.

Mino-bimaadiziwin – The Good Life /// Mural in partnership with Better Beginnings, Better Futures

A collaborative cross-organization effort led this mural project titled Mino-bimaadizizwin – The Good Life at Better Beginnings, Better Futures’ main site, located at 450 Morin Ave. Due to the contingencies and implications of Covid-19, we conducted online surveys and virtual conversations with Better Beginnings staff and participants to inform the project.

The mural was a collaborative effort by local Indigenous artists Adrienne Assinewai and Raven Debassige (with additional support and assistance from Wallace Gillard). Located on the exterior fence, it depicts seven animals representing the Seven Grandfather Teachings, while other elements symbolize Better Beginnings programming and connections within the community.

This project was covered by The Sudbury Star, CTV, CBC, and Anishinabek News.

Festivals + Events

Typically, local festivals and events are a big part of Myths and Mirrors’ summer programming – but 2020 was not a typical year. That being said, we were still able to support and be part of Fierté Sudbury Pride with Queerspace, a virtual writing workshop designed by artist (and summer staff member) Blaine Thornton. The workshop was developed in the Creative Writing program at OCAD University and focuses on writing as a tool for healing and self-care for queer folks.

We also held two online art auctions throughout the year. The first featured a series of hand-decorated Moleskine journals created by our summer staff members (Blaine Thornton, Casey McGee, and Quinn Zwarich). The second featured original artworks generously donated by a group of local artists that included Ron Langin, Rosie Maddock, Trish Stenabaugh, Kate Rutherford, Elizabeth Holmes, Adrienne Assinewai, Kim McKibbon, Judith L. Duncan, and Nicole Poulin. In total, we raised almost $6,000 to support our programming and outreach.