Professional Artists

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The artwork in these various projects has been facilitated by professional artists living in and around Toronto.  The artists have run workshops, assisted participants in creation, and facilitated performance and exhibition opportunities.  To date, participating artists have included:

red lineBarbara Reid

Aportfolio03t the Ontario College of Art and Design my focus was illustration, and it was for a class assignment that I first experimented with plasticine to make a dimensional picture. The project was a surprise success-everybody laughed! When I entered another plasticine picture in a calendar contest I was embarrassed to find out that one of the judges was the famous painter and Group of Seven member A.J. Casson. To my surprise and relief, he laughed! I won the contest. After that, I decided to take having fun more seriously, and include plasticine artwork in my portfolio. I graduated from OCAD in 1980 and began work as a freelance illustrator.

After working for a variety of clients, I was thrilled to illustrate my first picture book in plasticine. The New Baby Calf, by Edith Newlin Chase, was shortlisted for the Canada Council Prize for Illustration. More than twenty books later, other awards include the UNICEF Ezra Jack Keats Award, The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book award, and the Elizabeth Cleaver Award. The Party, which I wrote and illustrated, won the Governor General’s Award for Illustration; Fox Walked Alone was named to the IBBY International Honour List and was a Blue Spruce Award selection. Most recently, I received Amelia Frances Howard Gibbon Award for Perfect Snow. My books have been published in Canada, The USA, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Finland, Norway, China, Germany, Brazil, Korea and Thailand.

For more information about Barbara and her practice, please visit:

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portfolio03Roshanak Jaberi

Roshanak Jaberi is an independent Iranian-Canadian, multi-disciplinary performer and choreographer. As an artist she is committed to creating work that is provocative, and embodies social and political relevance. Research, collaboration and artistic exchange are an integral part of her creative process, as are her frequent travels and extensive fieldwork in Africa and Asia. She finds inspiration in human conflict, and real stories and experiences of women that she interprets through dance. Topics she is interested in exploring include: political prisoners, child soldiers, women and violence, war and genocide, gender, race and feminism.
Roshanak is a graduate of York University with an honours degree in music. She currently sits on the Pluralism Committee of the Canadian Dance Assembly (CDA), is Associate Producer of Expect Theatre, and co-host of Toronto’s Evi-Dance Radio. She is also an experienced arts programmer and community arts practitioner, and was recently shortlisted as a top three finalist for the Soulpepper Theatre Dance Awards. Roshanak  has served as a juror with the Toronto Arts Council Granting Committee, the Canadian Dora Awards, and the Canadian Dance Assembly’s I Love Dance Awards. She has been a moderator at the Feminist Art Conference (FAC) in Toronto, and a panelist for The Dance Debates: Choreographing Our Future by the Toronto Arts Council, the annual on the MOVE Dance Conference, Engaging Arts to Represent Violence Against Women – A Conversation About Ethics at the University of Toronto, and International Women’s Day in Washington DC organized by the Iranian Alliance for Peace, Freedom and Social Justice.

For more information about Roshanak, please visit her website:

red lineShannon Blake


Originally from Kitchener, Shannon Blake is the founder and artistic director of The Bench Theatre Initiative, a gracious, hospitable, trust-risking organization designed to connect street-involved adults with aesthetically excellent theatre.  She is a playwright, director and community arts practitioner with a Master of Arts in English from the University of Toronto and has extensive experience with theatre creation and facilitation in a variety of community and professional settings.  Her arts practice focuses on seeking alternative narratives, creative third options, and artist-community interdependence. She is the writer and director of Transient Voices; Wonderful; Before, During and After: Stories from the Iranian Prison Journey  and Of Boots and Birds, and the writer of Factory and The Passages of Everett Manning. She has also directed Michael Healey’s The Drawer Boy and been published in Geez, Geist and The Hart House Review.  Shannon co-operates extensively with Sanctuary, a drop-in centre for homeless and marginalized adults, and has also worked with Nightwood Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

To see Shannon speak about her work, please see her TED talk here.

red lineHeather Read


Heather Read is a PhD candidate in Adult Education at the University of Toronto, in Ontario, Canada.  Her main research interest is how people make relationships with places, and how the act of engaging artistically affects a place relationship.  With a folklorist’s eye and ear, She focuses on the small scale stuff of life: the habits and practices that connect each of us to each other, and our communities.  She has a background in museum and art gallery work, in presenting and organizing diverse information for diverse audiences.  She has worked for The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the Yukon Arts Centre Public Art Gallery in Whitehorse, Yukon, the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and the Royal Ontario Museum, in Toronto, Ontario.

For more information about her current research project, please see her website.

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Ava Raha

Ava is an artist and illustrator with a strong belief in the transformative power of beauty,cover justice, art, and poetry. For her, art is both self-expression and a way to explore and visualize community.

red linePhilip Taucher

philip clock

Philip is an adult educator, community organizer and researcher from Austria. He has been working with diverse communities in Europe and Las Americas. His community work is inspired by artistic traditions of popular education in Latin America, like theatre of the oppressed, muralismo and arts-based participatory research. Usually precariously working himself, precarious work and life are the central topics of his activism and work. Philip has been organizing and learning with such diverse precarious comrades as university lecturers, freelance waste management workers, undocumented workers, refugees, unemployed youth and homeless people.