The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) is one of Canada’s leading public, university-affiliated contemporary art galleries. The award-winning gallery program consists of local, national, and international artists working at the forefront of contemporary art, publishing, and curatorial practices today. AGYU believes that a contemporary art gallery should serve an aesthetic and social function, that it must be fluid and flexible and transform itself through a reciprocal engagement with artists and communities, including students at York. Situated in one of Toronto’s most diverse suburbs and located at one of Canada’s most multi-cultural universities, AGYU has reinvented itself in order to become responsive to this nuanced cultural context and to make its location a catalyst for artistic risk-taking and institutional innovation.
Known for commissioning works in all media—including dance, film, performance, social practice, and multi-media works—AGYU provides students with opportunities to collaborate with artists in the production of professional works that are shown at AGYU and internationally. AGYU provides various opportunities for students to gain significant “real life” professional experience that can be applied to many creative sectors. Through AGYU, students participate as artists’ assistants, designers, co-creators, researchers, filmmakers, and protagonists in AGYU commissions. AGYU’s residency program brings artists from around the world to contribute to the interdisciplinary research at York and students of all disciplines—from Health to Science; Environmental Studies to Social Work and computational arts; and many more—collaborate on research-driven projects within their Faculties/Departments, obtaining credits toward their course work. Each year, AGYU works with student groups on campus to design and produce YorkU’s annual Pride parade float and on-campus activities. AGYU is a strong supporter of student-led initiatives on campus. In 2017, AGYU was named by students as one of the top “safe-spaces” on campus.
Through AGYU’s collection, students have opportunities to conduct primary art historical and curatorial research, learn how to handle and install artworks, and stay up-to-date with current trends in collections management. Under the mentorship of AGYU curators, AGYU’s Curatorial Intensive provides students with opportunities to curate—from ideation to installation—a fully-funded exhibition and publication. Through our education initiatives and social practice projects, students gain experience working with diverse communities. Contributing to youth driven arts education programs, students have opportunities to work with emerging BIPOC artists in Jane Finch, Regent Park and Scarborough. AGYU’s close ties with Indigenous artists, thinkers, and community leaders have provided learning opportunities for students involved in our residencies and commissions to foster de-colonial practices—which are then applied to their specific disciplines of study.
With paid work-study positions, assistantships, and volunteer opportunities, AGYU provides undergraduate students with hands-on, professional experience, preparing them for future careers in the creative sector. Graduate students benefit from commissions and professional exhibition opportunities as well as paid Research Associateships geared toward their particular, interdisciplinary research. Student-led exhibition tours provide students an intersectional platform to present research in public and link it with artists’ practices. Yearly cash awards for artwork and writing support and celebrate York’s student’s creative production.
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