View of Transformations, a site-specific commission by artists Oriah Scott, EronOne, HONE, HUNGR, AJ Little, Emily May Rose and guest graffiti artists from across the Montreal-Toronto corridor. Photo: Paul Litherland
We’re back! I know many of you have been wondering what we’ve been up to on our “retreat.” It was beautiful: a retreat into our collections; a retreat away from institutional formalities; an opportunity to be nomadic by working offsite on collaborative projects and forging new relationships along the way. When I arrived at Agnes in 2020, I asked: ‘When we close our “home,” who will welcome us into theirs?’ We’ve brought the streets to the gallery (our graffiti project Transformations), and we have now taken to the streets ourselves (our procession VULINDLELA). This summer and fall, Agnes stages projects throughout the region and internationally at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Of course, many of you—our friends—used Agnes’s spaces during our retreat: for your poetry workshops, art hives, camps, residencies and classes; or you were here with us in the galleries and vaults as integral collaborators in our participatory collections-based research.
Our retreat was also incredibly intense. We must pack, digitize and move 17,000 art objects to prepare for construction, and folks—that takes TIME! It also requires building trust. Keep an eye on Agnes Stories as we share some of this collaborative, behind- the-scenes work. Work we care very deeply about.
Admittedly, our retreat was supposed to be our closure. The pivoting and pirouetting I wrote about in the last At Agnes now feel prophetic! But we are excited to be with you again in our current space for two more seasons: with more art, more parties, more opportunities to celebrate. Construction delays for any new facility are par for the course, even more so when one takes the time to do it in a good way, through, for instance, our community-engaged design process. Delays also happen when one is afforded the very rare opportunity to increase a building’s size and scope, which we did earlier this year thanks to the generosity of our very special donors, Bader Philanthropies, Inc. Please join our sharing and talking circles this season as we enter Agnes Reimagined’s design phase with our beloved design team of KPMB Architects and Anishinaabe-kwe cultural consultant Georgina Riel. Get involved at Agnes this year before construction begins, for real, in May 2024!
We are incredibly fortunate to be the home of the Guardian Capital Collection of Indigenous Art and, for our reopening, we are taking the occasion to showcase this esteemed collection for the first time, alongside artworks donated to Agnes by Hunter and Valerie Thompson. Our program this season revolves around the exhibited artists’ path-defining practices, themes and strategies as we honour the futurities imagined in their artworks through poetry workshops, wellness and educational programs, lectures and talks and a very special A.I. intervention!
—Emelie Chhangur, Director and Curator