On March 22, senior arts management students from U of T Scarborough marked the end of the school year with the launch of their capstone project, EAT MY ART. The project consists of seven podcast episodes, each featuring a different artist or arts manager across disciplines. In the episodes, guest speakers share their involvement with the arts, including personal journeys and experiences. The first five episodes feature Mitchell Marcus, Casey Mecija, Meags Fitzgerald, Alan Stanbridge, and Umbereen Inayet.
Last Wednesday, The EAT MY ART team hosted a launch party at the Ernest Balmer Studio in Toronto’s Distillery District. In keeping with the theme of “art tasting,” the event offered visual art, performance art, and live recordings of two new podcast episodes. Teigh Fitzgerald and Grace Phan acted as MCs for the night, mediating the performances and hosting the final podcast episode.
The small studio was packed with guests. They mingled around the stage, sampled treats from the cupcake decorating table, and scanned the artwork on display. The visual artwork occupied the back wall of the studio. The display included pieces by Patricia Abuel, Ruba Al-Wakeal, Carol Cheong, Danielle Fitleberg, Eric Slyfield, and Nishkka Vora. The collection contained photography, paintings, and drawings.
I particularly enjoyed Cheong’s “Donuts (I, II, III, IV, V).” This series looks exactly as it sounds: five donuts of different flavours. The lifelike pastries hung in a vertical line on the wall of the studio. Cheong crafted her donuts using acrylic paint on canvas. However, they looked real enough to eat.
The performances commenced with a monologue by Christian Teatro, which he titled “Red Strings.” His act was followed by Abuel’s performance, “Le McDo.” In this curious demonstration, Abuel stood at a table at the back of the studio. A complete McDonald’s meal—hamburger, fries, chicken nuggets, and condiments—rested on the table in front of her. Abuel proceeded to chew the McDonald’s food, spit it out, and rearrange it artistically on the white plate. She improvised the whole performance and never once spoke. The resulting meal resembled a dinner you would receive at a fancy restaurant, looking nothing like fast food that had been chewed and reproduced.
After Abuel’s performance, the hosts recorded the sixth and seventh podcast episodes. Fitzgerald and Phan took advantage of the live audience, encouraging the crowd to participate in the episodes by clapping and shouting phrases. The first recording featured Prom King, a Toronto-based troupe that specializes in improvised theatre. The trio performed several brief comedy sketches. They enthusiastically interacted with the audience between acts, in search of ideas for their next sketch. Prom King’s performance was well received by the audience, owing to its relatable jokes and humorous incorporation of the audience’s ideas.
Following Prom King, Fitzgerald and Phan welcomed Leah Erbe to the stage for the recording of the final episode. Erbe currently holds the position of program manager at The AFC, an organization that offers support to professionals in Canada’s entertainment industry. In the episode, Fitzgerald and Phan interviewed Erbe, who offered thoughtful responses about her role at The AFC. Erbe focused her discussion on self-care in the art industry. She explained the importance of mental health and wellbeing, particularly how self-care is essential for emotional and artistic success. This relaxed exchange between Erbe, Fitzgerald, and Phan complemented the livelier performances of the evening.
Altogether, EAT MY ART creates a repository of inspirational stories for aspiring artists. The featured individuals seek to engage listeners and inform them of the many possibilities in the arts. The “art tasting” launch party gave a unique celebration of a successful project. The event not only offered a platform to promote EAT MY ART, but it also provided a space for community and student artists to share their work with the public.
EAT MY ART is currently available for streaming on Soundcloud.