The Hart House Centennial Art Commission

Great Hall, Hart House

The Hart House Centennial Art Commission

Rebecca Belmore and Osvaldo Yero

Rebecca Belmore and Osvaldo Yero. Courtesy of the artists.

Hart House, in collaboration with the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, is commissioning a major, permanent artwork to transform our historic Great Hall.

Hart House at the University of Toronto is pleased to announce that the artist team Rebecca Belmore and Osvaldo Yero are the winners of the 2019 Hart House Centennial Commission. The commission is a collaboration between Hart House and the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, of which Hart House is a founding member.

The completed work will be unveiled at a special 100th Anniversary Gala on November 12, 2019. It commemorates Hart House’s 100th anniversary as a student-focused centre at the University of Toronto where it plays a pivotal role as a diverse and inclusive gathering place. The landmark commission will see a major public sculpture entitled Adoopoowiningemuh Waabandizo (seeing yourself at the table)–working title–transform the historic Great Hall.

This permanent work seeks to acknowledge the history, narratives and people who came before us; to honour the land upon which we live and work today; and to imagine other possible futures for generations to come, from an Indigenous perspective. “The form of the mirror will be based on the dimensions of the heavy wooden tables that are used in the Great Hall,” said Rebecca Belmore. “We feel the room calls for a minimal, subtle artwork that can quietly take its place in this century-old room. Our mirror, in the form of a table, will look back on itself and anyone who enters the room.”

On the announcement of the artists, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Barbara Fischer said, “we couldn’t be more thrilled with the selection of Adoopoowiningemuh Waabandizo–working title– for this public art commission. Rebecca Belmore and Osvaldo Yero are deeply respected members of the art community in Canada and around the world. It is an honour for us to be able to include their work permanently in this historic space. They have shown great commitment and enthusiasm toward the project, one that provokes us to mark Hart House’s Centennial with both a sense of self-reflection and consideration of the ways in which we shape the future of all our relations and the land on which we live and work. We are all very much looking forward to working with the artists to realize this important public artwork.”

Following a review process involving Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, and key stakeholders of Hart House, the jury was unanimous in choosing Rebecca Belmore and Osvaldo Yero’s proposal from a short-list of nine, commissioned submissions by contemporary artists and artists’ teams from across Canada. The artists were invited to exceed the centenary aspect of commemoration and to re-imagine Hart House as a place where the vestiges of its colonial past are disrupted and as a place where everyone will find welcome and unique ways to connect with each other and with the broader world. “This commission is really about transforming and disrupting the Great Hall in a positive way. We believe that it will signal Hart House’s sincere and broad commitment to be an ever more inclusive place where all students, staff and faculty are able to see themselves, their narratives and their experiences welcomed and reflected back to them in the physical space,” remarked Hart House Warden, John Monahan.

Great Hall, Hart House after November 12, 2019

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