Scarborough's creativity to be celebrated at Nuit Blanche
December 21, 2017
Next year marks two decades since six municipalities, including Scarborough, merged into the City of Toronto.
The amalgamation, which made Toronto the fourth largest city in North America behind Mexico City, Los Angeles and New York, will be celebrated at a dedicated city-produced Nuit Blanche Toronto exhibition at Scarborough Civic Centre, Scarborough Town Centre and neighbouring institutions within the community.
The artists in this zone will disrupt and subvert boundaries and borders between downtown and the suburbs, the centre and the margins, ourselves and each other. Each artistic project will expose that which is unexpected and unplanned, and makes real again what was once erased or denied. The exhibition aims to illuminate the creativity and artistic production that has always existed and continues to thrive in Scarborough.
Cultural producer and arts manager Alyssa Fearon, who was raised in Scarborough, is the curator.
“I grew up around Highland Creek Area, attended Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary School and still have a lot of family members residing in Scarborough, so I am extremely delighted to be curating the first Nuit Blanche in Scarborough,” she said. “I want it to feel quite different from the downtown zone. I want it to be something where residents can see themselves reflected. It’s going to be something for and about the community.”
Whippersnapper Gallery executive director Anique Jordan said Fearon is the ideal fit for the role.
“Alyssa is not just a Scarborough native,” said the 2017 Toronto Emerging Artist of the Year. “She is a person who relentlessly has invested her time, curatorial and artistic practice in Scarborough. What she brings is a lived experience informed by the questions and urgencies for transformation and insight of the exceptionality that’s Scarborough. She is the perfect person to shift up Nuit Blanche and offer something to the city that the downtown core and City Hall could never have seen because they couldn’t be bothered to look.”
Since 2006, the award-winning all-night Nuit Blanche event has featured nearly 1,400 art installations by approximately 4,900 artists, generating over $311 million in economic impact for Toronto.
A marketing co-ordinator at the Art Gallery of Ontario while pursuing an independent creative practice, Fearon is always seeking new ways of organizing artistic projects in communities that haven’t traditionally being sanctioned as places of creativity and innovation.
“Growing up in Scarborough, I didn’t often see people that looked like me pursuing creative paths and professions,” she pointed out. “I think part of the reason why I care so much about doing this type of work and deliberately basing it in and outside Scarborough is because I want to somehow make it feel more possible for the younger generation that’s interested in pursuing a creative pathway.”
Fearon curated the one-week ‘HerStory Speaks’ exhibit featuring five young female artists at the Trane Studio in the summer of 2010.
Three years ago, she created the Young Creatives Program, a community-led initiative that cultivates the emerging contemporary art practices of racialized young artists residing in Scarborough.
In March 2016, Fearon formed Chronicles of the Diaspora which is a grassroots reading and learning group that meets once a month to discuss and explore books written by female Black authors.
This year, she organized and curated ‘No Vacancy’ for the Myseum Intersections Festival at Scarborough Arts’ Bluffs Gallery. The exhibit explored the evolving use of the Kingston Road motel strip. Some of the motels are used as temporary housing for people seeking refuge in Canada while others rent their rooms to sex workers servicing their clients.
A member of SKETCH Toronto board of directors since March 2014, Fearon has a marketing degree, a Master of Arts in art history, a diploma in curatorial studies and a Master of Business Administration from York University where she was on the Dean’s Honour List.
Her aunt-in-law -- Dr. Kathy Moscou is the wife of Brock University’s president & vice-chancellor Dr. Gervan Fearon -- is a self-taught visual artist whose work has been displayed at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Centre in Seattle and at the Caribana Arts exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Last August, Moscou – whose work covers themes of race, identity and culture -- was named to the Manitoba Arts Council board.