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Sculpting New Reads Returns to The Word On The Street Toronto

September 18, 2017

The Word On The Street Toronto presents Sculpting New Reads, its fourth annual contemporary art program that brings together Canadian artists and authors to explore how books can inspire innovative ways of thinking and creating. This 1-day exhibition will be held at The Word On The Street, Sunday, September 24, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the main building at the Harbourfront Centre.

Four contemporary artists have been paired with four new books released in 2017. Artists have been challenged to create new work inspired by the content and themes of their books—all within a tight three-month timeframe.

Participating artists include Nicholas Crombach, Sage Paul, Marian Wihak, and Alize Zorlutuna. The program features a wide range of art media – from installation and sculpture to textiles and craft. In addition, scheduled meet-and-greets with both artists and authors will be facilitated throughout the day. (See schedule below). The program is curated by John Loerchner and Laura Mendes of Labspace Studio.

“I love that we give artists the opportunity to read these books before they hit store shelves,” says Laura Mendes, Curator of Sculpting New Reads. “We’ve brought together a very diverse group of artists with very different art practices. The books are as diverse in genre as the artists themselves.”

This year’s books include Ron Sexsmith’s debut novel Deer Life, a wicked fairy tale of witchcraft, bullying, revenge, and a mysterious bowler hat; Seven Fallen Feathers, a heartbreaking work by Tanya Talaga that delves into the human rights violations against Indigenous communities in Thunder Bay; Lisa Richter’s debut collection of poetry Closer To Where We Began; and Red, Yellow, Green by Alejandro Saravia, an intimate story that captures the tumultuous existence of exile.

“When trying to produce an accessible festival, we have to know readers never experience good books in just one way,” says Heather Kanabe, The Word On The Street Toronto Festival Director. “So to have all these innovative visual interpretations from four talented artists means we can offer audiences new, breathtaking ways to experience literature, and that’s what The Word On The Street is all about.”


By clicking on each of the following event titles, you can view the artists’ studios and their creative process with this year’s series of promotional videos.


12:45 P.M. – 1:45 P.M. ALEJANDRO SARAVIA & ALIZE ZORLUTUNA (meet-and-greet)

Book: Red, Yellow, Green by Alejandro Saravia

In Montreal, Alfredo struggles with his memories of being ordered to commit an atrocity by the Bolivian army. Despising his nation as an oppressive sham, he falls for a woman who has no nation—a Kurdish freedom-fighter trying to blast an independent Kurdistan into existence. As the net of intrigue closes in on his lover, Alfredo must finally face his past. Refusing to be bound by style, genre, or language, Alejandro Saravia captures the tumultuous existence of the exile.

Artist: Alize Zorlutuna is an interdisciplinary artist who works with installation, video, performance, and material culture to investigate themes concerning identity, queer sexuality, settler colonial relationships to land, culture, and history, as well as labour, intimacy, and technology. Her work aims to activate interstices where seemingly incommensurate elements intersect. Drawing on archival as well as practice-based research, the body and its sensorial capacities are central to her work. Alize lives and works in Toronto.

1:45 P.M. – 2:45 P.M. TANYA TALAGA & SAGE PAUL (meet-and-greet)

Book: Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga

In 1966, twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. An inquest was called for and four recommendations were made to ensure the safety of indigenous students. None of those recommendations were applied.

More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home because there was no high school on their reserves.

Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, award-winning investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities.

Artist: Sage Paul is an urban Dene woman and a member of the English River First Nation; she makes fashion, costume, and craft. Sage champions family, sovereignty, and resistance for balance. Some of her work has shown at the Royal Ontario Museum, Harbourfront Centre, and Woodland Cultural Centre. She is the co-founder of the Setsuné Indigenous Fashion Incubator and is working on two fashion-based projects: Giving Life and The Mint Sweater Project.


2:45 P.M. – 3:45 P.M. RON SEXSMITH & NICHOLAS CROMBACH (meet-and-greet)

Book: Deer Life by Ron Sexsmith

A humorously dark fairy tale, wherein young Deryn Hedlight (mistakenly) kills a dog that belongs to a witch, setting into motion a series of unexpected events. It’s a wicked fairy tale of witchcraft, bullying, revenge, and a mysterious bowler hat. Mostly though, it’s all about patience, friendship, and heroism where you least expect it.

Artist: Nicholas Crombach has a BFA from OCAD University with a major in Sculpture and Installation. In 2016-17 he participated in a year-long studio residency at The Florence Trust in London, UK. Nicholas has been awarded The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Award, Hayden Davies Memorial Award, Samuel Lazar Kagan Award, Abraham and Malka Green Award, and a BMO 1st Art Nomination. His work has been exhibited at The Florence Trust, London (UK), Art Mur, Montreal (CA), Angell Gallery, Toronto (CA), XPACE, Toronto (CA) and Whippersnapper, Toronto (CA).


3:45 P.M.– 4:45 P.M. LISA RICHTER & MARIAN WIHAK (meet-and-greet)

Book: Closer to Where We Began by Lisa Richter

This diverse debut collection follows the speaker on a path of self-discovery and navigates the tension between memory and imagination, between the personal and the political, and the primacy of sensual, sensory, lived experience. These dream-like poems not only concern themselves with the speaker, but with urban and natural environments, friends, family, and lovers, past and present. The poet explores overlapping/intersecting identities that shape and inform us, celebrating the importance of telling our stories as a means of bringing us closer to our authentic selves.

Artist: Marian Wihak is an award-winning production designer of film and television, with an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design. Marian integrates her design and visual art practices to devise site-responsive, experiential environments. Employing a wide range of analogue, theatrical, and sculptural-material elements she invites questions amid confusing pleasure, prompting thoughtful reflection upon one’s own state of being in the world and the connectivity inherent within the evolutionary process. Marian has been supported by the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and was a Finalist in the RBC Painting Competition.Her work is in private and corporate collections across North America.


About The Word On The Street:

Each September, in the cities of Toronto, Halifax, Lethbridge and Saskatoon, The Word On The Street unites the country in a national celebration of literacy and the written word. Annually attracting more than 200,000 visitors, The Word On The Street Toronto is the largest book and magazine festival in Canada. This year’s event takes place on Sunday, September 24, at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West). Admission is free.


For media inquiries, contact: Laura Mendes, Curator, Sculpting New Reads

416.836.1516 or
Program Details:



Media Contact:

Touchwood PR

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