Ring of Fire
In 2014 Picasso PRO was invited by Curator Emelie Chhangur of the Art Gallery of York University [AGYU] and Artist in Residence Marlon Griffith to collaborate with them and an array of other arts and cultural groups on an ambitious year long project to culminate in a large scale public procession, based on the tradition of carnival “mas” during the ParaPanAm Games in Toronto 2015. The project amplified the connections and solidarity among various marginalized communities. Our excitement at engaging with so many other compatible communities in an inclusive environment made the decision to jump in fairly easy, very exciting and emotionally rich. [see related Press Release for full background, details, names and context]. We were invited in because of our community reach and relations, our diverse membership, our artistic approach and our knowledge of accessible art practice. Rose Jacobson acted as one of the project’s mentors while a core of Picasso PRO artists were invited to perform as key Sentinels in the procession. A larger circle of associate artists became involved at various levels and artist Anna MacLean designed and led a set of Movement workshops on our behalf. Rose also introduced a new element to the plan by inviting seven young Deaf ASL Signers to accompany 7 Spoken Word poets in performing their works during the event.
Ring of Fire as it came to be called immersed Picasso PRO participants in a process which included exploring different movement possibilities with the other project participants, developing the choreography for the street, leading and participating in joint workshops, assisting with the conceptualization of costumes and the visual components of the project, performing in the procession and advising on the project from an integrated and inter-abilities dance point of view, ensuring that the needs of the disability artists involved in this project felt supported at all levels.
The project perfectly aligned with our own collaborative approach to art making and we felt inspired by the Seven Grandfather Teachings and embodying these teachings – Wisdom, Courage, Respect, Honesty, Humility, Truth, and Love – through our active participation at all levels. The work fostered many new relationships and was a watershed in Picasso PRO’s role of incubating new art initiatives that expand our reach and enrich the cultural landscape in Toronto and Ontario.Read the press release for the Ring of Fire procession – Accessible PDF Read a call for workshop participants for the development of the Ring of Fire – Accessible PDF