Kingston’s H’art Centre to showcase neurodiverse artists’ work, celebrate Canada’s freshwater

The H’art Centre is showcasing the work of neurodiverse artists across Canada in the new exhibit Connecting Canadians: Freshwater. The exhibit features over 50 canvases and sculptures created in inclusive art studios and their allied organizations.

H’art Centre Marketing and Communications Manager Tracy Ryan says the project began through a partnership with The Marine Museum of The Great Lakes to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, a commitment between Canada and The United States to restore and protect The Great Lakes:

The H'art Centre then reached out to a network of inclusive arts groups including: including: New Leaf Link (Harrowsmith, ON), Being Studio (Ottawa, ON), Creating Alternatives (Vaughan, ON),  L’Arche Toronto's-Sol Express (Toronto, ON), Reach Centre (Owen Sound, ON), Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts (Edmonton, AB), The National AccessArts Centre (Calgary, AB) and Alternative Creations Studio (Vancouver, BC).

“We asked them to reflect on their own relationship with freshwater and to create art that reflected that theme," says Ryan.

The exhibit will be the first to be displayed at THE MIX, the H’art Centre’s new four thousand sq. ft. gallery and outreach space.

“We were really lucky to have a space adjacent to H’art Centre that we were able to expand into…It’s got a 50 ft. gallery wall…Some of our H’art studio activities have expanded in there and we’ve also welcomed other inclusive art groups to have residencies there to do rehearsals, to be trained in inclusive arts….We see it as a place that can accelerate inclusive arts in Kingston and the region,” says Ryan.

The H'art Centre has operated in Kingston as a charitable community arts hub providing opportunities for artists with disabilities and those facing barriers to create for 25 years.

“We’ve developed our own approach about how to make the arts very inclusive and accessible.  At H’art Centre we include dance music, theatre, textile artists. If we have community artists that are interested in doing something with the community we’re very interested in hearing from them…We developed our own award-winning training program called MixAbilities and we offer that a couple times a year to community artists that want to know how to make the arts inclusive to many different people,” says Ryan.

As part of the partnership project between The H'art Centre and The Marine Museum of The Great Lakes, Our Great Lakes, a diorama-style community art installation will be unveiled on Sunday, Oct. 23 at The Marine Museum and will be on display until December.

“They offered some workshops on the Great Lakes throughout the summer both to H'art studio artists and the public…during some of those the community created artwork which has contributed to this large-scale installation,” says Ryan.

The full exhibit, Connecting Canadians: Freshwater is on display starting Friday, Oct. 28 and running every Friday until Dec. 2 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at The MIX. Admission is free and tours can be booked through eventbrite.

Listen to the full CFRC interview with Tracy Ryan below: