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The McMichael celebrates the power and poetry of Canada's river systems this summer with Thom Sokoloski's Colour of the River Running Through Us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 24, 2015, KLEINBURG ON—Inspired by Samuel de Champlain's arrival in Ontario 400 years ago and to celebrate the community spirit of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, the McMichael presents Colour of the River Running Through Us, a sculptural-based outdoor art installation conceived by multi-disciplinary visual artist Thom Sokoloski. From July 1 to August 16, visitors are invited to explore and participate in a unique sensory ceremony of sight, movement and sound on the gallery grounds.

Following on the success of Terence Koh's performance art workstomorrow's snow and a way to the light produced and commissioned as part of the 2014 Luminato Festival, the McMichael is hosting more exciting contemporary outdoor artwork this summer. As part of Colour of the River Running Through Us, the McMichael ravine will become a "river" for an amassed flotilla of fifteen foot canoe-inspired sculptures hovering above visitors. Recognized internationally for his large-scale public art installations, Sokoloski has produced and created works for a number of important cultural institutions worldwide, including The Encampment, first commissioned by Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in 2006, and later presented in Toronto, New York City and Ottawa, and at the 2012 Luminato Festival, The Scarecrowspresented in New York and Huntsville, Ontario, and All The Artists Are Herepresented at Art Toronto 2013. 

His previous work as a theatre and opera director includes co-founding Toronto's The Theatre in 1979 and directing five of R. Murray Schafer's operatic spectacles, especially his production of RA at the Ontario Science Centre and Holland Festival in 1983/85, as well as, his 1992 Harbourfront World Stage midnight production of Hermes Trismegistos inside Union Station.

An avid canoeist himself, the vision for Sokoloski's installation at the McMichael is influenced by the exploration and settlement of Canada through the waterways established by First Nations, then introduced in the 1600s to Champlain and the Voyageurs, as well as the Jesuits. Today, as then, the canoe and its relationship with water plays a unique role in forming and defining the Canadian imagination. 

"There is something about water that is indigenous to our identity," said Thom Sokoloski. "When you enter the Canadian Shield, you understand what the Group of Seven was trying to do; they wanted to get into the soul of the country, not only by viewing it but by engaging with it as well."

Conceived specifically for the natural setting of the McMichael, the materials which make up the thirteen freestanding sculptures of Sokoloski's work all have an association with water, including the tripod, its pulley systems and vessels used to dig and retrieve well water, and the shapes and forms of canoes and dugouts.

Upon entering the installation, the artist suggests the sensation of being surrounded by the river that flows above, below and through us. After visiting the thirteen river sculptures, the public is invited to engage in a creative ceremony with the artwork by participating in meditation movements, choreographed by Jenny McCowan. Inspired by performing the meditation movements throughout the grounds of the McMichael, visitors can then compose a haiku poem that recalls a memory of their experience with river water. The haiku poem will be placed within the memory vessel of a river sculpture.

"Colour of the River Running Through Us continues the McMichael tradition of inviting artists to interact with our history, collections and spectacular grounds," said Anna Stanisz, Associate Director of Creative Learning and Programs at McMichael. "The installation allows visitors to celebrate the biological, spiritual and cultural implications of water which sustains life and brings communities together."

PUBLIC PROGRAMS

Canada Day and Opening of Colour of the River Running Through Us Installation
Wednesday, July 1, 11 am to 4 pm

Recognizing the role the Humber River has played in the both the history of Aboriginal people and explorers, the McMichael celebrates Ontario's 400th anniversary of francophone presence with the opening of Thom Sokoloski's installation Colour of the River Running Through Us. Enjoy various activities for the family including a musical drama created by Hugh Barnett and the Carrying Place ensemble focusing on the history of this heritage trail.
Opening remarks will be held at 1 pm, followed by Canada Day cupcakes. Canada Day celebrations are sponsored by TransCanada.

Fee: Free access to McMichael grounds.
No registration required. Visit mcmichael.com for more information.

Artist Talk: Colour of the River Running Through Us
Wednesday, July 1, 11 am to 12 pm
Thom Sokoloski in conversation with Shawn Micallef

Celebrated for public art installations such as The Encampment presented in New York, Ottawa, and, most recently, at Fort York in Toronto, The Scarecrows presented in New York and Huntsville, Ontario, and All The Artists Are Here presented at Art Toronto 2013, Thom Sokoloski is the mastermind behind Colour of the River Running Through Us. Discover the fascinating art of Sokoloski with this special interview by Toronto Star columnist, Shawn Micallef.

Fee: Included with gallery admission.

Registration required. Call 905.893.1121 ext. 2209, email bookings@mcmichael.com or visit mcmichael.com for more information.

Colour of the River Running Through Us Family Day
Sunday, July 12, 11 am to 3 pm

Visitors of all ages are invited to explore Sokoloski's installation and the theme of the river through Humber Valley nature hikes, an Aboriginal canoe ceremony and teachings, and installation-related art, poetry, and movement workshops.

Fee: Included with gallery admission.
No registration required. Visit mcmichael.com for more information.

Colour of the River Running Through Us: Movement Meditation and Haiku Workshops
Sundays, July 12 & 26 & August 9, 1:30 to 3 pm
Saturdays, July 18 & August 1 & 15, 1:30 to 3 pm

Explore the theme of the river through movement meditation and poetry writing. Visit mcmichael.com for details on workshops and other exciting programs offered at the Ontario Celebration Zone, Harbourfront Centre, as part of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. Offered in English and French on Saturdays. Visites en français et en anglais le samedi.

Fee: Free access to McMichael grounds.
No registration required. Visit mcmichael.com for more information.

PROGRAMS AT ONTARIO'S CELEBRATION ZONE, HARBOURFRONT CENTRE

Colour of the River Running Through Us: Peter Goddard in Conversation with Thom Sokoloski
Tuesday, July 14, 5 to 6 pm
Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Colour of the River Running Through Us: Movement Meditation and Haiku Workshop with Jenny McCowan
Tuesday, July 21, 5:30 to 6:30 pm & Thursday, July 23, 4:30 to 5:30 pm
Outdoor Secondary Stage

Colour of the River Running Through Us: Children's Movement Meditation, Origami, and Haiku Workshop
Saturday, July 25, 1 to 2 pm
Outdoor Secondary Stage

Please visit mcmichael.com for more information on these programs.

About Thom Sokoloski

Thom is a multi-disciplinary visual artist. He is founding member of Toronto's The Theatre Centre, Native Theatre School and Autumn Leaf Performance. He has produced and created works for a number of important cultural institutions worldwide, including LaMama NYC, the Banff Centre, Opéra de Montréal, Canadian Opera Company, Opéra de Lyon, Festival de Liège, Société des Arts Technologiques, Strasbourg's Musica, Berlin's Transmediale, The Sound Symposium, National Capital Commission and La Biennale Musiques en Scène à Lyon. He has directed five of R. Murray Schafer's operatic works including RA at the Ontario Science Centre and Holland Festival in 1983/85 and Hermes Trismegistos at the Liège Festival and inside Union Station for World Stage Festival in 1992.

Over the past decade Thom has expanded his innovative practices through the creation of large-scale public art installations. The Encampment, first commissioned by Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in 2006, has been presented in Toronto, New York City and Ottawa, and at the 2012 Luminato Festival. In 2013 he was commissioned by Art Toronto to create All The Artists Are Here. In development is a new public art installation for Four Freedoms Park in New York City in 2016 in partnership with Socrates Sculpture Park and Urban Glass. He has curated for Art Toronto, Contact, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the Distillery Historic District, and Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts.

About Jenny McCowan (Public Participation Director and Choreographer) 

Jenny has worked and collaborated with Thom on all of his larger works, including The EncampmentThe ScarecrowsThe River Peace, and Ghost Net. She is an established choreographer whose work has been presented by Anandam Dancetheatre and Scotiabank Nuit Blanche. She has also worked for artists such as Terrence Koh at the McMichael in 2014 with Luminato. In addition to being a registered teacher with the York Region District School Board, she is also the Education Director for the Magenta Foundation in Toronto, Boston, and Pittsburgh.

About Evan Weber (Design and Production Director)

Evan collaborates on the design aspects of Thom's works, from 3D modelling to structural engineering. He is a registered architect and teaches at Ryerson University's School of Architectural Design as well as being a film production designer, presently working on the acclaimed Hannibal television series.

About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of almost 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The gallery is located on 100 acres of northern landscape and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more information:mcmichael.com.

 

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Media Contacts:

Daniela Travierso-Galati
Media Relations and Communications Coordinator
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2210
dtravierso-galati@mcmichael.com

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