About the Award Commission
Since 2008 Toronto Arts Foundation has commissioned the creation of an original artwork for the Toronto Arts Foundation Awards. Made in the form of a plate, the original artwork is presented annually at the Mayor’s Arts Lunch to award recipients.
The award plate is produced in a multiple of ten, with the first five in the edition being presented to award recipients. The commissioning program enables the Foundation to support the development of new work and to further recognize the contributions of its award recipients with original art by some of Toronto's most important visual artists.
The 2018 award plate was designed by Syrus Marcus Ware.
“I have been creating very large-scale portraits of activists/revolutionaries/community mobilizers as a way of celebrating activists’ culture, activists’ lives and as a way of understanding activisms. These portraits are an act of reverence, a celebration of life and of choice and of action(s). I began exploring portraiture and painting also as a way of painting my community into art history, and as a way to document my reality. I have been drawn to portraiture to render invisible lives visible: Trans activists, political heroes, people with disabilities painted large in a style and medium previously reserved for dignitaries, and wealthy patrons. The artistic tradition of painting is impacted in re-enforcing systemic structures such as class hierarchies, racism and defining which humans are valuable. My work attempts to interrupt this process by re-centering the frame around ‘unintelligible bodies’, those on the margins” – Syrus Marcus Ware.
About the Artist: Syrus Marcus Ware
Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier Scholar, a visual artist, a community activist, a researcher and an educator. Syrus’s work in drawing, performance art and installation explores social justice frameworks and black activist culture. Syrus is a core-team member of both Black Lives Matter-Toronto and Blackness Yes!/Blockorama. Syrus has won several awards, including the Toronto Arts Foundation TD Arts Diversity Award in 2017. Syrus is currently a PhD candidate at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies.
For more information on Syrus Marcus Ware, please go to: syrusmarcusware.com
About the Ceramicist: Alexx Boisjoli
Alexx Boisjoli runs a small production studio based in Toronto. Trained in design and craft, he explores functional wares and graphic goods as part of his professional practice. His experience in producing ceramic decals has allowed him to work with the Toronto Arts Foundation for six years running.