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A STEPS PROJECT

 

I Am Lucy,

I Am Thornton

I Am Lucy, I Am Thornton is a series of 2021 CreateSpace public art activations by artist-in-residence, Charmaine Lurch. The project, inspired by the lives and impact of Lucie and Thornton Blackburn, involves both installation and performance art as outdoor public art, intertwining space and time in relation to the audience and the landscape.


 

PROJECT AT A GLANCE

Location: 19 Sackville St, Toronto, Ontario

Artist: Charmaine Lurch

Year: 2021

Services: Artist Capacity Building

 

A STEPS PROJECT

 

I Am Lucy,

I Am Thornton

I Am Lucy, I Am Thornton is a series of 2021 CreateSpace public art activations by artist-in-residence, Charmaine Lurch. The project, inspired by the lives and impact of Lucie and Thornton Blackburn, involves both installation and performance art as outdoor public art, intertwining space and time in relation to the audience and the landscape.


 

PROJECT AT A GLANCE

Location: 19 Sackville St, Toronto, Ontario

Artist: Charmaine Lurch

Year: 2021

Services: Artist Capacity Building

 

1

artist-in-residence

2

performances

80-100

total attendees

1

artist mentor

2

banner installations

1

sculptural installation in Spring 2022

PROJECT DETAILS

After the CreateSpace BIPOC Public Art Residency call for artists with nearly 100 submissions across Canada, Charmaine Lurch was one of the ten emerging or mid-career public artists selected to create socially-engaged public artwork with the support of STEPS and multidisciplinary artistic mentors. This virtual residency began in March 2021 and runs until December 31, 2021, where Charmaine and fellow artists-in-residence across five provinces are provided access to resources and support to develop the skills to bring their projects to life.

“I make art that engages the audience in deeper connections around issues of social justice, identity politics, equity and community building. An emergent stream that I hope to pursue is working in outdoor spaces and I see [CreateSpace] as an opportunity to learn from and meet people who can support me in this endeavour.” 

– Charmaine Lurch, Artist-in-Residence

“I make art that engages the audience in deeper connections around issues of social justice, identity politics, equity and community building. An emergent stream that I hope to pursue is working in outdoor spaces and I see [CreateSpace] as an opportunity to learn from and meet people who can support me in this endeavour.” 

– Charmaine Lurch, Artist-in-Residence

Building on Charmaine Lurch’s ongoing artmaking and research on Lucie and Thornton Blackburn, I Am Lucie, I Am Thornton brings presence to these two important Canadian entrepreneurs and activists, and honours their life and impact on the city of Toronto. Celebrated as Canadian nation builders, the Blackburn’s settled in Toronto’s Corktown area in the early 1830s. They started the first public transportation business in Toronto with their 4-passenger, one horse taxi, and built a home at Sackville and Eastern Ave that served as an Underground Railroad terminus for those escaping enslavement. It is the first underground railroad site ever dug in Canada. In 1999, the Department of Canadian Heritage designated Lucie and Thornton Blackburn Persons of National Historic Significance to recognize their impactful achievements and lifelong resistance to slavery and racial oppression.

Charmaine’s experience in multiple disciplines of sculpture, painting, and social practice art together with the support of artist mentor Javid Jah, expands this work and brings awareness to the Blackburn family’s story through an interactive live performance and a sculptural installation. Initially planned as a public sculptural piece at the historical site of the Blackburn home, material delays and challenges led to Charmaine pivoting this project to explore performance art to activate the site, adding another unique layer that also engages the community in a new way. 

CreateSpace artist Charmaine Lurch sitting on a wooder chair, holding up a poster and book, wearing a white shirt, grey patterned skirt and straw hat. She is on an area with grey paving stones, patches of grass, and tree in the background. The sky is blue.
photo of Charmaine Lurch holding up a white tee with a graphic design of a woman. She is smiling and standing in front of a building and trees

Photo Credit: Selina McCallum, D Barndt, A. Zbitnew

“[On the value of public art] It really gives artists an opportunity to share and to have a voice, and to place purposeful, thought-provoking, but hopefully thoughtful work in the community. To have a community intentionally or unintentionally interact [with public art]… knowing that these interactions are in the moment, so we can’t know what to expect.”

– Charmaine Lurch, Artist-in-Residence

“[On the value of public art] It really gives artists an opportunity to share and to have a voice, and to place purposeful, thought-provoking, but hopefully thoughtful work in the community. To have a community intentionally or unintentionally interact [with public art]… knowing that these interactions are in the moment, so we can’t know what to expect.”

– Charmaine Lurch, Artist-in-Residence

Performance Art

Audiences were invited to attend Charmaine’s performance art piece that took place in September and October 2021 at the original site of the Blackburn house in Toronto. Playing the solo character of Lucie Blackburn, Charmaine moved around the space in front of a live audience to provide an affective presence, a memory of the past in the present. Audience members were encouraged to simply observe or engage with Lucie through conversation or even playing basketball in the nearby court. COVID-19 protocols were in place to ensure safe community engagement in this outdoor activity. 

Photo Credit: Selina McCallum, A. Zbitnew

Video Credit: Selina McCallum

Banner Installation
Photo of Charmaine Lurch and a woman holding up a black and white banner for her project "I Am Lucie, I Am Thornton". They are on the site of Lucie and Thornton's historical home, and there is grass and trees surrounding it.
Photo of Charmaine Lurch turned around, talking to two people, she is wearing a dark skirt, white shirt. There is a wire fence and greenery in the background.
Photo of Stoyan Barakov of STEPS and artist Charmaine Lurch standing in front a black and white banner for Lurch's art installation.

Photo Credit: Selina McCallum, A. Zbitnew

Made possible through her collaboration with Toronto District School Board (TDSB), and Arts Education partner Inner City Angels, Charmaine will connect her personal and public practice through her work as an arts educator by engaging students and staff at Inglenook community school in learning about the Blackburn story through a number of creative endeavours.

Sculpture Installation

Photo Credit: Selina McCallum, A. Zbitnew, Javid Jah

The next component of I Am Lucie, I Am Thornton is a sculptural installation at the historical site of the Blackburn home at 19 Sackville St, Toronto. This upcoming installation plans to reposition their former living space as a site of visibility, movement and reverence. Stay tuned for more information about the installation currently planned for Spring 2022. 

About Charmaine Lurch
Charmaine Lurch

Charmaine Lurch works across sculpture, painting, installation and social practice art. Her work draws attention to human/non-human and environmental relationalities. Lurch’s paintings and sculptures are conversations on infrastructures and the spaces and places we inhabit. Working with a range of materials and reimagining our surroundings—from bees and taxi cabs to The Tempest and quiet moments of joy, Lurch subtly connects Black life and movement globally.

About CreateSpace Residency

CreateSpace is a national public art residency program designed in consultation with advisors from coast to coast, to provide emerging Black, Indigenous and racialized artists with the skills, relationships and practical experience needed to take their public art practice to the next level.  

The program aims to strengthen solidarity amongst artists working in diverse contexts and build connections between these artists and their communities. This residency also encourages conversations of social equity in city-building, design and placemaking.

This year’s virtual residency takes place from March to December 31, 2021 and through this nine (9) month program, ten (10) emerging or mid-career public artists will convene, connect and create socially-engaged public artwork across Canada. For the latest updates, be sure to follow @STEPSpublicart and #CreateSpaceResidency.

 

The CreateSpace Residency is made possible by support from TD Bank Group through the TD Ready Commitment, the City of Toronto as part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021 – 2022, Partners in Art, MAWA, and funding provided by the Government of Ontario.

TD Ready Commitment logo, City of Toronto and ArtworxTO logo, Partners in Art Logo and MAWA logo, Canada Council for the Arts Logo
Logo banner with Canada Council for the Arts and Province of Ontario
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