Image: Zoom Call Screen Capture of Wren & Suad drawing each other’s hands, 2021
Organized by Centre for Artistic & Social Practice (Hamilton, ON) and presented at Guelph Civic Museum, Mind the Gap is an exhibition of artworks created by a community of seniors and youths working with practicing artists in Hamilton and Guelph. Through co-creative artmaking, the project aimed to decrease isolation among the participants and to bridge their generational gap.
Centred in collaborative storytelling, multimedia installation, and experimental portraiture, artists Becky Katz and Chyler Sewell in Hamilton and Dawn Matheson in Guelph were each joined by three seniors and three youths, paired together: Joanne and Janeil, Suad and Wren, and Judith and Subomi.
The co-creative elements of the project were originally meant to take place in person. Due to the pandemic and required safety measures, Mind the Gap developed in the virtual realm. The community participants took part in the program digitally. The artists fostered an inviting space that encouraged creativity, trust, intimacy, experimentation, compassion, humour, vulnerability, and genuine connection. The artists and participants bonded with one another despite their physical distance.
The seniors and youths met as strangers at the start of the project. Through virtual workshops, they learned to be attentive to each other’s needs and to engage with curiosity, empathy, and affection. They developed and applied new creative skills, shared knowledge and interests, practiced active listening, and reflected on their own and each other’s identity, culture, and belonging.
The artworks, co-created by the senior and youth pairs, are on view in the Mind the Gap exhibition. Through their art, visitors to the exhibition will discover how strangers became friends, barriers became opportunities, and digital meetings became physical artworks.
Mind the Gap: Intergenerational Connectivity between Seniors and Youth was funded by the Ontario Arts Council. This project was made possible by Alex Jacobs Blum, Ron Siu, Alex Borghesan, Colina Maxwell, and Arturo Jimenez of Centre, by lead artists Dawn Matheson, Becky Katz, and Chyler Sewell, and by community participants Joanne and Janeil, Suad and Wren, and Judith and Subomi.
Watch History Bites: Mind the Gap, a conversation with the artists and facilitators behind the project: