Workshopping Social Justice
A group of 11 institutional survivors, seven professional artists, five scholars, and four students formed the Recounting Huronia Collective. Our Collective met for monthly workshops on York University campus 2014-2015 to produce collaborative art that portrayed what life was like at Huronia. Our goal was toe collect, preserve, and publicly share experiences that are too often left out of the public record.
Work Done Altogether
During afternoons at York, we came together as a full team over lunch for open discussion. In an early workshop we held a brainstorming session. Survivors shared their thoughts on institutionalization, which were written on a blackboard. Survivors' words and images shaped the art we would go on to produce in later workshops.
Our Collective toured the Huronia Regional Centre. Survivors took photographs and shared their memories over audio recording. When we returned home and resumed workshops, we worked in pairs with the photography to produce collages. That work was kept in scrapbooks.
The words and imagery survivors used in workshops informed nancy viva davis halifax's independent project. A professional artist, davis halifax produced small repeatable tokens to commemmorate survivors, each inscribed with a key word or phrase a survivor had said related to their institutionalization. This art installation was displayed through the evening of our Cabaret.
In October 2015, our Collective performed a cabaret to a community audience at Toronto Ontario's Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Our performances included spoken word, music, re-enactments of staff punishment, and embodied interpretations of captivity. We built rapport and engaged in creative exploration through a series of rehearsals in the theatre space. We built rapport and engaged in creative exploration through a series of rehearsals in the theatre space. Some of the time spent together in cabaret rehearsals, inclusing conversations and singing performances, was audio recorded.