We’re excited to introduce Mika Babineau, one of our 2019 Northbound Gallery Program artists! In her self-portrait series, Ace and In Your Face, Mika beautifully showcases different aspects of asexuality, such as coming out, belonging in the LGBTQ+ community, and acceptance. 

Keep reading to learn more about Mika’s arts background, her Northbound exhibition, and what she hopes people will take away from seeing her work!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your arts background.

I am a Toronto based painter who was originally born in Moncton, New Brunswick. I moved to Ontario to go to college, but ended up staying here in order to seriously pursue my art career. I graduated from Sheridan College with honours, and I’ve been a practising artist for 3 years now. In that time I’ve exhibited at a variety of galleries and libraries, plus a few art fairs. I specialize in portraits and landscapes, both encompassing vibrant colour energy.

What can you tell us about your exhibition? 

My exhibit is meant to both empower asexual people by talking about their experiences, while also informing and educating allosexuals (non asexual people) about an aspect of the LGBT+ community they may not know much about. Each self portrait explains a different aspect of my journey of coming to terms with being asexual. There are 8 paintings in total, each with a passage which explains different aspects of asexuality to the viewer, with themes of coming out, representation, and belonging.

What does the title of your exhibition, Ace and In Your Face, symbolize?

The “Ace” in Ace and In Your Face is the fun nickname asexual people have given themselves (“aces”), while the “In Your Face” is for the uncompromising and overt themes I am educating my audience about. I really want to be in the viewer’s face about asexuality, telling my story with conviction and confidence. Aces are very seldom given the spotlight, so it is finally our time to shine, and time for me to be unapologetically myself in this series.

What do you hope people will take away from seeing your exhibition? 

I hope people will take away a better understanding of asexuality, and of the queer community as a whole. There are so many different sexualities and gender identities out there, and I want people to be willing to learn about all kinds of different people’s experiences. Aces are not understood very well by the general public, or represented very well in many spaces; I want to give a voice to their struggles and their lives. I want people to come away feeling more accepted, and feeling more acceptance for other people. And ultimately, I don’t want any ace to ever feel broken or unaccepted ever again. 

Ace and In Your Face is currently on display at the Toronto Centre for the Arts until August 24. The exhibit is open to the public Tuesday-Friday from 1-6 PM. To learn more about Mika’s exhibit, click here.


Interview by: Kavita Gurm

Communications and Events Assistant