Artist Clara Lynas to lead a sign-making workshop ahead of anti-violence rally
Take Back the Night event partners speak to The Medium about how they aim to use contemporary art as a social justice tool.

Create art and support a cause between classes this September 14 by joining OCAD University graduate and printmaker Clara Lynas on campus in a free sign-making workshop. Lynas has partnered with the Blackwood Art Gallery and the Peel Committee Against Women Abuse (PCAWA) in advance of Take Back the Night, a social justice rally to take place on September 21.

Take Back the Night began in the 1970s “as a movement to stand up against sexual violence in all its forms,” says Rebecca Pacheco, public education and community collaboration coordinator with PCAWA. “Over the years, Take Back the Night has grown into a global movement of women, gender-queer, trans, and non-binary folks coming together in solidarity and protest[ing] against sexual violence.” Signs will be made to reflect such anti-oppressive sentiment.  

The drop-in workshop will be held from 1-4 p.m. outside of the main entrance of the Communication, Culture, & Technology Building at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. The event is open to the public, and all materials will be provided on-site. Lynas will facilitate an additional workshop from 6-8 p.m. on September 21, outside of the Burnhamthorpe Library to kick off the march. 

“For anyone who hasn’t heard of screen-printing or doesn’t have an understanding of it, this is a really exciting way to get a handle on these sorts of practices and ways of making art,” Lynas says.

Participants of the September 14 workshop are encouraged to bring their artwork to the march. 

Pacheco says the march will include “a community booth fair where attendees are invited to visit booths hosted by community organizations sharing information about the supports and services they offer to survivors of gender-based violence.” The PCAWA will also provide UTM students with a list of support resources available to survivors, including 24-hour crises hotlines, shelters, and food banks. 

The Blackwood connected with Lynas through Open Studio, a printmaking studio in Toronto where she has taught workshops. The Blackwood has commissioned two artworks by Lynas, which workshop participants will transform into screen-printed signs in hopes of “spreading messages of solidarity and calls to action,” says Jacqui Usiskin, the gallery’s curatorial assistant.

Lynas explains that the process of printmaking involves limited tools, “really just your squeegee, your screen, your arms, and whatever you’re printing onto.” She says that printmaking has been “used for public activism as long as it’s basically existed,” because of its cost efficiency and ease of reproduction.  

The workshops present an opportunity to learn about printmaking as a creative medium and understand its role in social movements. “It’s going to be fun,” Lynas assures the most novice sign-makers. “You’re maybe going to get a little bit of ink on you, you’re going to learn how to pull a print, and you’ll have something you can take away after.”

According to Usiskin, the Blackwood hopes the workshops serve “not only to create signs for the event, but to [also] empower participants to vocalize the changes they would like to see in their community.”

Staff Writer (Volume 50) — Meighan is a published author and Strategic Communications professional. She recently completed her bachelor's in Professional Writing and Communications & French Studies at UTM. Her short fiction, "Birthday Cake," appears in ICCIT's Vision Journal. Meighan specializes in Arts & Entertainment and News writing, with a particular interest in Food & Travel Writing. In her spare time, she can be found dining at Toronto's newest restaurants and planning European adventures.


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