Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Coming home

Queer artists return to Mississauga to celebrate the Living Arts Centre's 15th anniversary

Kobayashi's Dorothy Baker character was created by the artist using notes and papers found in a book purchased at a Salvation Army store.
A new exhibition at Mississauga’s Living Arts Centre celebrates the facility’s 15th anniversary and invites artists who spent their formative years in the Peel regional municipality to return to their roots.
Curated by Cole Swanson, Homecoming features artwork by Jenna Edwards, Neil Harrison, Alison SM Kobayashi, Derek Liddington and Calder Harben. The exhibition draws on work that shows the artists’ relationships to the region and features drawing, new media and photography.
“There are a lot of amazing people living and working in the city, and I have a lot of memories from growing up there,” says Harben. “I was never out as queer growing up in Mississauga; it took a while after leaving to find that word. Leaving a place and coming back is hard; there are a lot of changes to the landscape and in myself.
“It’s interesting as a point to consider what’s changed and what’s stayed the same.”
Harben is exhibiting a series of 300 miniature photographic self-portraits that explore different landscapes, spaces and places, including the gallery itself.
“I am inspired by the social infrastructure of ant colonies and by the desire to be everywhere at once,” Harben says. “The idea of having 300 of yourself feels both exciting and terrifying.”
Harben, who now lives in Toronto, is a graduate of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
“Mississauga has developed really quickly, and I grew up watching fields being paved over, including the one our own house and neighbourhood was built over.”
Kobayashi’s Dorothy Baker, which she developed at Feminist Art Gallery last summer, is a video piece that explores found art, narrative and character recreation.
“I had come across a Polish-to-English phrase book at the Salvation Army a few blocks away from FAG and was interested in the notes and papers left in between the pages,” she says. “I found texts about King Leopold and condolence texts addressed to Dorothy and Ms Baker about a brother named John. I began to imagine who this book previously belonged to and decided to make a character-fest video showing my attempts to perform this person.”
Kobayashi, who lived in Mississauga during her early adulthood, moved to Brooklyn four years ago.
“I feel fortunate to have come in contact with a diverse mix of individuals who left their traces in my memory,” she says. “And who may reappear as characters in small ways throughout my videos.”

Runs till Wed, Nov 7
4141 Living Arts Drive, Mississauga