The Sustenance Rite Anthea Black
Thirza Cuthand
Erika DeFreitas
Petrina Ng
Zoë Schneider
Kara Stone
Evan Tyler
Justice Walz
Jessica Lynn Whitbread

Curated by Lauren Fournier

November 20–December 9, 2017


Presented as part of Circuit 3: Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid, Take Care


Download the Circuit 3 micropublication featuring a curatorial essay for The Sustenance Rite by Lauren Fournier, artist biographies, and full colour illustrations throughout.

Justice Walz, Anxiety Escape Kit (detail), 2017. Courtesy the artist.
Exhibition Statement

In a time of generalized anxiety, precarity, and upheaval, how do artists sustain themselves? What do we make of self-care imperatives in light of our late-capitalist, neoliberal, neocolonial context? How do we care for others while also caring for ourselves? The Sustenance Rite is a group exhibition featuring work by emerging and mid-career Canadian artists that engages issues of health, wellness, healing, care, and survival from queer, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour), and intersectional feminist perspectives. The works in this exhibition proffer alternatives to dominant discourses of health that are critical and reparative. Reflecting on the rites and rights of mental, emotional, and physical healthcare in the contemporary moment, these artists make space for the rituals that sustain us.

To read the full curatorial essay by Lauren Fournier, download the Circuit 3 micropublication.

Public Programs

FREE Contemporary Art Bus Tour
Sunday, November 19, 12–5pm
Featuring a special tour of the Blackwood Gallery led by guest curator Lauren Fournier
The tour picks up at Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West) then departs for Blackwood Gallery, Oakville Galleries, and Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. To RSVP: email or call 905-828-3789 by Friday, November 17 at 5pm.

Reader-in-Residence Session with Art Metropole
Public reading by Lisa Myers
Wednesday, November 22, 12–1pm
Blackwood Gallery

Lisa Myers is an artist, musician, chef and educator whose practice considers the varying values placed on time, sound, and knowledge. Thinking through legibility, and the various ways in which one reads an image, Myers will invite participants to engage in a project entitled Playing Spoons, using a blueprint profile of the Canadian Pacific Railway Mainline and blueberry-stained spoons as graphic notation.

Dames Making Games
Workshop with Kaitlin Tremblay
Thursday, November 23, 9–11am
Communication, Culture, Technology Building, University of Toronto Mississauga

Kaitlin Tremblay from Dames Making Games will facilitate a workshop on the intersections between mental health, body theory, feminist advocacy, and game creation. The workshop is presented in collaboration with CCT405: Ethics and Code, taught by Professor Tero Karppi in the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology.

Feminist Lunchtime Talks
Mapping Informal Networks of Women Living with HIV
Jessica Lynn Whitbread and Mercy Lillian Gichuki
Wednesday, November 29, 12–2pm
Blackwood Gallery

This event is the second in a series of Feminist Lunchtime Talks featuring artists, writers, activists, and academics working across issues of labour, gender, race, and identity in the context of the crisis of care. The talks put artists participating in Take Care and other guest speakers into conversation with UTM faculty and local respondents.

Tea Time: Mapping Informal Networks of Women Living with HIV (2011-present) is a transnational, community-building, cross-media project organized by Jessica Lynn Whitbread that functions as an interpersonal space for women with HIV to network, self-advocate, and share their experiences. Mercy Lillian Gichuki will respond to Whitbread’s project in relation to her experience in the public health sector, working with women living with HIV, survivors of gender-based and sexual violence, newcomers, refugees, and non-status women. Gichuki works from an anti-oppressive, integrated feminist lens with a deep understanding of the many intersections that women face.

The Feminist Lunchtime Talks are presented in partnership with Women and Gender Studies (UTM).

Tea Time: Mapping Informal Networks of Women Living with HIV
Facilitated by Jessica Lynn Whitbread
Blackwood Gallery
Private event, only open to women with HIV

On December 1, World AIDS Day, Jessica Lynn Whitbread will host a private tea party in the Blackwood Gallery. Each woman is invited to bring a teacup and a letter that they have written, which they exchange for a teacup and a letter brought by someone else. Though it takes place in the institutional space of UTM, the tea party makes space for privacy, confidentiality, intimacy, and communion between women living with HIV.

This event is presented by the Blackwood Gallery, in partnership with PASAN and the International Community of Women Living with HIV – North America.

Installation Photos

For installation photos of The Sustenance Rite, visit Circuit 3: Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid.


Anthea Black is a Canadian artist, writer, and cultural worker based in San Francisco and Toronto. Her work addresses feminist and queer history, collaboration, materiality, and labour. She has exhibited and published in Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, France, and Norway. She is the co-editor of HANDBOOK: Supporting Queer and Trans Students in Art and Design Education with Shamina Chherawala, and Craft on Demand: The New Politics of the Handmade with Nicole Burisch. Black is an Assistant Professor of Printmedia at the California College of the Arts. 

Thirza Cuthand was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and grew up in Saskatoon. Since 1995 she has been making short experimental narrative videos and films about sexuality, madness, youth, love, and race, which have screened in festivals and galleries across the United States, Canada, Germany, and Brazil. She completed her BFA in Film and Video at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and her MA in Media Production at Ryerson University. She is of Plains Cree and Scots descent, a member of Little Pine First Nation, and currently resides in Toronto.

Erika DeFreitas is a Scarborough-based multidisciplinary conceptual artist. Placing an emphasis on process, gesture, and documentation, her work explores the influence of language, loss, and culture on the formation of identity, with the use of textile-based works and performative actions. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and the United States. Longlisted for the 2017 Sobey Art Award, a recipient of the Toronto Friends of Visual Arts’ 2016 Finalist Artist Prize and the 2016 John Hartman Award, DeFreitas holds a Master of Visual Studies from the University of Toronto.

Lauren Fournier is a writer, artist, curator, and researcher. She is a doctoral candidate at York University, where she is completing a SSHRC-funded cross-disciplinary study of auto-theory as a contemporary mode of feminist practice. Her prior work as a front-line mental health and harm-reduction worker informs her research. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and in Berlin, Athens, and Houston, and her writing has appeared in numerous arts and academic publications.

Mercy Lilian Gichuki received her MPH from the University of Waterloo and a BA in Women and Gender Studies from UTM. Mercy works as a Public Education and Community Collaborator at Interim Place. For the past 10 years, Mercy has worked in public health, working with women living with HIV, survivors of gender-based and sexual violence, newcomers, refugees, and non-status women. Mercy works from an anti-oppressive, integrated feminist lens with a deep understanding of the many intersections that women face.

Lisa Myers is an independent curator and artist with a keen interest in interdisciplinary collaboration. Her curatorial practice considers values placed on time, sound, and knowledge. Myers has an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial practice from OCAD University. Her writing has been published in many exhibition publications including Senses and Society, Public, C Magazine, and FUSE Magazine. Myers is a member of Beausoleil First Nation based in Toronto and Port Severn, Ontario, and an Assistant Lecturer in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.

Petrina Ng is a visual artist and cultural worker based in Toronto. Her multi-form feminist practice connects intimacy, discomfort, and absurdity. Previous projects have been shown in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Ng received a BA from the University of Toronto and an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art (London). She is the Exhibition Coordinator at the Blackwood Gallery.

Zoë Schneider is a sculptor, curator, and arts administrator who transforms found and fabricated materials into artworks that investigate corporeality within social systems. Schneider’s works explore various phenomenon and experience, invoking responses ranging from quiet contemplation to interactive engagement. Schneider is currently completing an MFA at the University of Saskatchewan.  

Kara Stone is an artist and scholar interested in the affective and gendered experiences of mental illness, wellness, and healing as it relates to art production, video games, and traditional crafting. Her artwork has been featured in The Atlantic, Wired, and Vice. She is a member of the Different Games Collective. She holds an MA from York University in Communication and Culture and is pursuing a PhD in Film and Digital Media with a designated emphasis in Feminist Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz.

Kaitlin Tremblay is a writer and narrative designer, living in Toronto. She is the author of the book Ain't No Place for a Hero (ECW Press, 2017), about subversive storytelling, and the lead writer of the narrative-driven and death-positive video game A Mortician's Tale (Laundry Bear, 2017). Kaitlin’s work explores mental illness, queerness, feminism, and community in video games.

Evan Tyler is an artist, musician, occasional curator, and a writer of fiction living and working in Canada. Tyler has exhibited and curated both nationally and internationally. From 2010-2014 he ran gallerywest on Toronto’s Queen Street West. His artwork focuses on voice and performance, blending the fictional and autobiographical. Tyler is a graduate of Masters of Visual Studies (MVS) in the studio program at the University of Toronto, with a collaborative graduate specialization from the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.

Justice Walz is an interdisciplinary, Toronto-based artist. She is currently completing her BFA in Ryerson University's RTA New Media program. Her work spans a variety of media including installation, illustration, clay, and digital art. At age 11 she was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis—a condition that causes her chronic pain and fatigue. Today, Walz uses art to confront past traumas and has embraced her voice as a queer, mad-identifying, intersectional feminist—these themes resonate loudly in her work.

Jessica Lynn Whitbread is an activist and artist who has worked in the HIV movement since her diagnosis in 2002. She works in social practice and community art, engaging a diversity of audiences in critical dialogue. Her primary interests are bodies, sexuality, and desire, and her work explores how gender, sero-status, and criminalization impact the navigation of sexual relationships. In 2014 Jessica published her first book, Tea Time: Mapping Informal Networks of Women Living with HIV, a photo collection of her Tea Time community arts practice.


The Blackwood Gallery gratefully acknowledges the operating support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the University of Toronto Mississauga.



The Blackwood Gallery is grateful for additional support for Circuit 3: Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid from the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology (UTM); Jackman Humanities Institute Program for the Arts; University of Toronto Affinity Partners Manulife, TD Insurance, and MBNA; USArtists International, a program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Women and Gender Studies (UTM).

Funding for additional staff support was made possible through the Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations program, Department of Canadian Heritage. The Canadian Museums Association administers the program on behalf of the Department of Canadian Heritage.



Thank you to each of the artists in this exhibition: it has been a pleasure and honour to work with you, and to bring your works together in this playful, performative, and nevertheless serious conversation around mental, physical, and emotional health and care in the arts. I would like to thank the entire team at the Blackwood Gallery for their enormous work in supporting The Sustenance Rite, with a special thanks to Petrina Ng for all of her support in preparing for this exhibition, and to Letters & Handshakes for their enthusiasm in bringing The Sustenance Rite to the third Circuit of Take Care. I would also like to thank my loving partner Lee Henderson, who has provided invaluable guidance, insight, and support throughout this process, and whose words lead me to The Sustenance Rite as the title for this exhibition. I would also like to thank Juliana Zalucky for the role she has played in fostering my curatorial practice. Thank you to those in various feminist art communities, including Sarah Sharma and Lynx Sainte-Marie (for our conversations around self-care, neoliberalism, and precarity that the Blackwood helped to facilitate). Thanks also to exhibiting artist Anthea Black, whose generous support in mentoring me through my first zine project, Self Care for Skeptics, provided the foundation from which curatorial projects like The Sustenance Rite followed.

- Lauren Fournier