Making Room at PARC
Making Room Community Arts is a radically inclusive, multi-disciplinary arts company in long-term residence at PARC. We create celebrations and ceremonies, large and small, out of the material of everyday life. According to Making Room’s Artistic Director Michael Burtt, the term “radically inclusive” refers to the fact that the structure of the organization and its individual projects, are deliberately loose in order to be able to change and adapt according to the individual and collective needs of the group. This means that Making Room is as accessible as possible, allowing group members to guide the development of any given project.
There is a Making Room workshop at the PARC drop-in every Friday afternoon and a small group of PARC members meets on Wednesdays. The Wednesday session is known as “Sand in Water,” named by a early participant who said, “sand in water, sand in water, that is what I think of.” In many places and systems of thought - water representing spirit or psyche and sand representing matter.
Sand in water represents the coming together of people’s outer and inner worlds and is reflected ritually in the group’s weekly routine. Michael Burtt describes the process: “After exchanging news and gossip, the murmur slowly quiets and we go around the circle sharing how we are doing, and responding to a question that has somehow emerged from the group. Then the group is led through a relaxation visualization, followed by ten minutes of silence. The rest of the session is spent working on some kind of art-work that will culminate in a large celebration.”
Making Room is different from other art groups at PARC, moving between writing, visual art and various forms of craft, sculpture, installation and design. Over the past three years the group has created a homemade canoe, a large art-raft, and a set of light boxes. They have created a series of large murals of participants in postures of meditation called “Portraits of Silence”, and an exhibition of paper art reflecting on the theme “What is Health to Me?” They helped organize the book launch for Let’s Face It, PARC’s second volume of writing and art-work.
Since it first arrived at PARC in 2010, the Making Room artistic team has been inspired by PARC’s history and dynamic culture. The raft project imagined Parkdale and Queen Street West as a river of people, with PARC members taking a central place in our rapidly changing neighbourhood. In addition, the raft project recognized the proximity of Canadian National Exhibition and Sunnyside Beach, once adjacent to Parkdale, but cut off by the construction of the Gardiner Expressway in the 1950s.
The following year, the group organized its Market installation to coincide with PARC’s thirty-third year. The Market included a fortune teller, an embroidered Wisdom table cloth, projected shadow images, memory preserves, a performance from the Wise Fool Choir, a part of the Making Room group. It also included long-time staff member Bob Rose handing out wisdom cigarettes, a puppet and choir performance, and a listening station that featured music mastered by Toby Dancer and featuring PARC musicians from a decade earlier. Together, the various installations and performances brought PARC’s illustrious artistic culture – past and present - under one spectacular, communal tent.
In June 2012, Making Room created a multi-media gallery of the work of PARC musician and artist Jerry Naumyk. The show, called “Through the Telescope of Jerry Naumyk” included an exhibit of Naumyk’s many drawings and paintings and an overhead production working with his images created by Toronto artist Sean Frey. In collaboration with PARC members, Sonja Rainey created a large of puppet in the likeness of the PARC artist, that led a colourful pageant to the water.