I, Ana Gabriela Lopez Castro (Mexico), founder of Emotionart, am a Toronto-based visual artist and enthusiastic dreamer inspired by the work of Muse Arts work. One day in 2019, reflecting on my community “Emotionart” was created where I want to share my knowledge and love with the community where I live.
The name “EmotionArt” came to life because we believe emotions move us to create, grow through that creation, and build strong communities.
We are an art collective of enthusiastic dreamers who want to create art programs to work with the community in a setting where all emotions are valid and essential drivers of human expression and development.
EmotionArt was created with the goal of reaching community members who otherwise would not have access to participate in art programs due to systemic issues like income and social inequalities and other barriers to accessibility, participation, and inclusion.
Initially, we aimed to work with senior residents at Toronto Community Housing buildings on the East End because I have noticed after 11 years of living in this area, in a housing building, many of them live alone. On some occasions, sadly, I have found out that some of them have passed away alone in their homes. This was the main reason to create a space where we can check on them, and reconnect with each other while we all create art in an inclusive space.
WHEN WE STARTED
Officially our first sessions started on January 27, 2020, with the support of the Toronto Arts Council through a community arts project. We keep building more spaces with the community.
The pandemic has made us adapt, evolve and change from in-person programming to online. We must upgrade our skills and take courses to deliver online programming. Initially, we used live streaming on Facebook and posted videos on Instagram and my personal Youtube Channel of AnaGabriela LopezCastro.
Initially, EmotionArt was created to open access to the arts to Toronto Community Housing residents (many of them are retired seniors and families with low income), now expanding to intergenerational arts groups in East York in different locations outside Toronto Community Housing buildings, providing free visual arts programs to the general public, who is interested in build community through making art together.
DRAWCEMBER ONLINE PROJECT/ “24 DRAWINGS OF JOY”
In December, as we were into another lockdown just before Christmas in 2020, and we wanted to keep connected, we made a video to invite the community in our building to participate in a drawing challenge called “24 Drawings of Joy or Drawcember”, and we made some posters and stuck on the hallways. We wanted to cheep up and connect while we cannot physically be together. The main idea was to make a drawing every day for 24 days until Christmas, the list or theme created was about Holidays.
We have 24 videos on Youtube of the whole drawing challenge.
About 10 people sent us pictures of their drawings. Here are some examples of their fantastic work.
This project was fun to keep creating while we were apart. We set an online- appointment every evening for 24 straight days at 6 pm. It was a very good challenge to give the time and space to get together at home and build some discipline. Also, it helped us to learn to be present and work on our drawing skills. It is always challenging to draw things that we are not used to, but when we see our whole work put together at the end of the challenge is very satisfying.
Fantastical creatures: alebrijes workshop
Between June 3 and July 29 2021, we delivered another online program focusing on the making of fantastical creatures called “alebrijes”, and we had a very good response from participants.
Muse Arts helped us to expand our outreach to a Latinx women and seniors community. We have good responses and excellent works from Latinx women.
We were gathering for 8 weeks via Zoom, every Thursday in the evenings, and we created a very exciting and happy space for creating art together. We built new friendships and relationships, and they created amazing alebrijes. Here are some of their works.
More alebrijes workshops are coming in June 2022!! thanks to the support of the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council.
We are very excited to bring more art programs from Toronto Community Housing to more locations. STAY TUNED!
So far, we have covered another 3 locations plus our home base, and we are looking to expand our community work to more spaces and outside Toronto.