Supercrawl Art Engages Contemporary Social Issues

Hamilton’s multi-arts festival Supercrawl continues to inspire and delight lovers of arts and culture with the announcement of the exhibiting artists for this year’s music and arts festival, taking place September 13-15, 2019 along James Street North.  Presented by TD, Supercrawl has always aimed to celebrate the freedom and vitality found in Hamilton’s creative sector — artists whose work has historically stepped outside of traditional gallery space to challenge expectations, generate curiosity about contemporary art and offer audiences entry to a spectrum of ideas.

Supercrawl builds on that creative tradition with festival programming, in officially curated installations and compelling parallel projects, that will challenge, confound and delight audiences. Selected by visual art coordinator Jordyn Stewart in conjunction with the festival’s Visual Arts Committee (which includes Melissa Bennett, Ivan Jurakic, Annette Paiement, and Carol Podedworny), this year’s array of visual art installations finds social issues being engaged in provocative ways by contemporary artists Hiba Abdallah, drienne Crossman, Christopher McLeod, Sean Procyk, and St Marie φ Walker, as well as a special virtual reality project from Artasia, a collaborative projection art piece from Monique Aura Bedard x Tia Cavanagh x Alex Jacobs-Blum, an interactive park installation from dpai architecture, and an immersive sensory installation from Pantone Colour Institute x United Way Canada.


Hiba Abdallah (Windsor, ON)

Hiba Abdallah’s In Retrospect is a text-based billboard that offers a public observation and declaration. The statement aims to provide a jump off point for questions rooted in the critical and vital consideration of the current and future state of our communities. Where we are we now? What are we hoping to change? What are we willing to fight for? In Retrospect is presented in association with The McMaster Museum of Art in support of public art initiatives at McMaster University and throughout Hamilton.

Adrienne Crossman (Hamilton, ON)

Adrienne Crossman’s Flags consists of a series of three large handmade outdoor flags. On one side, they read: DEVIATE, SUBVERT and RESIST, and on the back they each read: EXIST. These sentiments serve as calls of resistance to oppressive structures and ways of being, and frame existing as a form of resistance for queer and marginalized bodies. They speak to the undigested ghosts of the political queer past and the increasing momentum at which queer politics and identity are ever-changing.

Christopher McLeod (Hamilton, ON)

At Supercrawl 2018, Christopher McLeod’s participatory social art project EMERGENCY asked two simple yet complex questions of public participants: What’s the emergency? What can be done about it? A pillar beacon with a suggestion box-style cavity gathered written submissions from the public. The top three emergencies identified by the piece’s 1,491 participants were environment, health, and safe streets. At Supercrawl 2019, McLeod returns with EMERGENCY Pt2., Structures of Action, and more pointed questions: How concerned are you? And what are you willing to do about it? Come speak to one of the installation’s hosts, enjoy companion spoken word performances by Hamilton Youth Poets, and pledge to take action.

Sean Procyk (Hamilton, ON)

Sean Procyk’s Macro dose is a psychoactive installation where giant mushrooms fruit from discarded mattresses. These bioluminescent fungal forms tower over spectators, emanating sonic vibrations at the threshold of human perception. This surreal encounter may induce wonder, general concern and/or amusement. While creating the work the artist was thinking about processes of migration, displacement, infestation and colonization.

St Marie φ Walker (Kitchener, ON)

St Marie φ Walker‘s When you think of me… draws attention to the social and psychological forces that construct our sense of self. The qualities that we choose to define us also conceal many of our vulnerabilities, contradictions, and insecurities. The rise of a virtual dimension and its carefully curated profiles and threads more easily house our constructed self, but also the internalized conflicts of human nature. The collaborative dyad of Denise St Marie and Timothy Walker, St Marie φ Walker has installed work in Japan, China and different parts of North America, including Las Vegas, Chicago, Detroit, Victoria, the Canadian Prairies, the Niagara Region, Windsor, London, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

In addition to these officially curated installations. Supercrawl 2019 also hosts parallel projects that will animate the festival corridor. Among them:

Artasia (Hamilton, ON)

Artasia’s #ArtPark – a 3D virtual park, housing the visions of more than 500 kids from around the region — was created in concert with a McMaster-based research team. The students of Artasia invite you to join them as they deepen their engagement with parks and the environment. Walk along in Virtual Reality as communities are connected together via digital footpaths and waterways. The #ArtPark installation welcomes visitors via an Oculus Quest VR headset into a world of landscapes, insects and creatures – real and fantastical – carrying the voices of children with underlying themes of parks planning. Presented in partnership with Culture for Kids in the Arts, the work was funded by Canada Summer Jobs and HWDSB Focus on Youth.

Monique Aura Bedard (Tkaronto, ON) x Tia Cavanagh (Peterborough, ON) x Alex Jacobs-Blum (Mount Hope, ON)

Art[4]Change: Indigenous Women Speak is a collaborative animated video by artists Alex Jacobs-Blum, Monique Aura Bedard and Tia Cavanagh  that seeks to re-interpret a garment through different visual aesthetics; movement, photography, beadwork and will be projected onto a building during Supercrawl. This project aims to reclaim the past through story and truth connecting to the residential school legacy, in the conviction that nultigenerational healing is a pathway to empowerment and resiliency for all generations. Presented in partnership with Centre[3] for Artistic and Social Practice , the work is made possible by the Canada Council for the Arts.

dpai architecture (Hamilton, ON)

Spaces are shaped by the people who occupy them. Public space is any area available to the public that is open to experience and enjoy. We own public space. We make it what it is. THIS IS NOT A PARK is a pop-up opportunity for the public to enjoy an urban park experience through engagement and human activation. A sign reading “This Is A Park” illuminates when participants enter the space. Without the presence of people, the sign turns off, reading “This Is Not A Park.” The portable park demonstrates that urban space comes to life when in use and that any public space has the potential to be enjoyed, even in the most unlikely of places. THIS IS NOT A PARK brings to light and celebrates our city’s underused spaces.

Pantone Colour Institute x United Way Canada (Toronto, ON)

United Way Canada and the Pantone Colour Institute have joined forces to create Unignorable, a new colour specifically designed to highlight societal issues impacting Canadians and encouraging community action to address them. The colour, a friendly and engaging orange coral that stops viewers in their tracks, demands attention to the issues it represents and with its high physicality, induces us to act. The experiential installation Unignorable, like its namesake colour, is meant to represent the social ills and the continuous work the United Way and its various member agencies and community partners do to mitigate these issues. It is part of a national campaign to help make local issues unignorable. It aims to prompt individuals to engage with underacknowledged issues and undertake difficult conversations within their communities. Presented in partnership with United Way Canada.

Supercrawl provides opportunities to local, regional and national artists and performers at both early and established stages of their practices. An annual call for submissions is issued to invite proposals from artists working in a variety of media.

Art-loving festival-goers will also find around two dozen gallery spaces and artists’ studios in and around Supercrawl’s neighbourhood, including Art Gallery of HamiltonThe AssemblyCentre[3]Coloma StudioThe DeFacto Gallery, Factory Media CentreGallery 4 Annex, Gallery on the BayMelanie Gillis Studio, ​Hamilton Artists Inc., HAVN, HCA GalleryMills HardwareRE-Create Outreach Art Studio, RedChurchStudio on James, The Studios at Hotel HamiltonJulia Veenstra Studios, Way Up GalleryWorkers Arts and Heritage Centre and You Me Gallery.


Supercrawl Insiders