Arts Feature: Jieun June Kim

Arts Feature: Jieun June Kim

We’re thrilled to introduce Jieun June Kim, a Toronto-based, Korean-born painter and muralist.

Jieun is one of our Northbound artists, and she will be at our inaugural fundraiser this month doing live paintings! Keep reading to learn more about Jieun and her work.

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

I am a Toronto based, Korean born painter, muralist and art producer. I graduated with honer from Duksung Women’s University in Korea receiving BFA in Korean Painting and Fashion Design. And I studied Visual Arts from Washington University in St. Louis, received MFA.  I have exhibited my paintings around the world at notable galleries and events.

I completed the Mural Art Career Development program offered by Mural Routes in 2017 and have since created numerous murals and have worked with various arts organizations, city of Toronto as well as renowned corporate partners.

I explore the idea of “home” as an immigrant while creating a safe space through art, and making a strong community. I believe that art has the power to connect people and to break through cultural boundaries. 

I am a recipient of the  Newcomer and Refugee Artist Mentorship grant from the Toronto Arts Council (2018) and is one of the artist in residence artist at the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (2019). 

Also, I am co-founder of KJ Bit Collective who creates murals and street art events, and a member of the Mural Routes advisory committee team.

What themes do you explore with your work, and where do you draw inspiration?

I strive to create a utopia where past & present, fantasy & reality coexist in my work. To do this I tap into my own personal experiences and try to articulate the struggles between my past in Seoul, Korea and my present in Toronto, Canada and the “home away from home” transitional phase that I find myself in. 

I move away from dichotomous thinking in my work and introduce a place that no one has ever experienced before with vague boundaries between reality and dreams.

Especially for my larger scale works, I like to use bold, colourful patterns and playful, dynamic shapes and let the colours pop in psychedelic shades. It makes viewers have an immersive experience. I would like the viewers to feel the in between space that I have created and to relate to my experience.

Why do you think public art is so important in a community? 

Public art invigorates our city by breaking the trend of sameness and blandness, and creates a uniqueness by giving communities a stronger sense of identity. 

In addition to that I think public art serves as a bridge between various cultures. It’s great tool for social engagement and makes opportunity for people to start conversation.

What are you looking forward to at North York Arts’ Beers And Brushes fundraiser next month?

I am going to paint live at North York Arts’ Beers And Brushes fundraiser. I am very happy to support local art organization and also look forward to create something that represents my community. 

Don’t miss Jieun’s live paintings at Beers and Brushes on October 24! To learn more about our fundraiser and buy tickets, visit To learn more about Jieun, visit

Interview by: Kavita Gurm

Communications and Events Assistant

Snapd Arts Feature: Ebony Viani-Singer

Snapd Arts Feature: Ebony Viani-Singer

North York Arts is thrilled to introduce Ebony Viani-Singer, the coordinator for one of our signature fall programs – Second Act: ESL Theatre Program. Second Act provides a series of free theatre-focused workshops for youth to feel more comfortable and confident speaking English.

Ebony is excited to bring her passion for the arts into her role as coordinator for the program

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Ebony Viani-Singer and I was born and raised in Canada, but my parents both immigrated here from Venezuela. I have always had a passion for acting, music and the arts in general. Right after high school I went to York University to pursue a degree in music to become a teacher after that, but quickly realized it wasn’t the career path for me. I took some time off to rediscover what it was that was truly my passion, and I enrolled into the Child and Youth Care program at Humber. I am currently in my last semester of the program and love the fact that I get to help people as my career. It has given me a new drive and sense of purpose I have not been able to find in anything else I have tried to pursue. 

What are you looking forward to with Second Act?

What I am most looking forward to is combining two of my biggest passions, acting and helping others, and getting to hear the stories of all the youth who will be a part of the program. I believe that there is so much to learn from the experiences of others and cannot wait to help others grow, but also have them help me grow as well.

How has arts and culture made an impact in your life?

Arts and culture have allowed me to express myself when words were not enough. There have been so many opportunities where I did not have the words to speak, but art gave me a voice whether it was through music, drama, painting and drawing. I am so grateful that I was able to use the arts as an outlet and a tool to feel truly free. 

How do you think art can play a role in helping to reduce language barriers?

Art is a universal language that can be felt and understood by all. Though different places around the world have different artistic styles, all seek to have their art be an expression of self. Whether or not you speak the same language as someone, everyone has felt pain, joy, sadness or any other emotion at some point in their lives. Art transcends speech and allows us to connect on a level that is not just understood, but felt. It allows for someone to share thoughts and ideas without necessarily needing to say a single word. It creates a connection between in a very unique way.

To learn more about Second Act and other North York Arts programs, visit

Interview by: Rachel Birnberg

Development and Communications Coordinator

Arts Feature: Elham Fatapour

Arts Feature: Elham Fatapour

We are so proud of all our amazing Northbound artists, and we love introducing them to you and speaking to them about their artwork! 

Elham Fatapour is a Toronto-based artist born in Tehran, Iran. Elham’s art practice focuses on traumatic Middle East geopolitics in relation to her personal narratives. Keep reading to learn more about Elham and her upcoming exhibition, My Story

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

I am a Toronto based artist born in Tehran, Iran. My passion for sociology, politics, and visual storytelling propelled me into the world of professional arts. After moving to Canada I studied Illustration and currently I am completing my masters degree in visual arts at York University.

I use imagery, colour and technique to charge my paintings with empathy and present them in mixed media installations that encompass the viewer. 

Briefly describe your two series, My Story and Erosion, and how they come together in this exhibition.

My imagery incorporates culturally symbolic materials, such as carpet fragments, to express my social and political investigations. Through the integration of domestic textiles, historic patterns and figures in my work, I aim to conceptually implicate all people. This inquiry has led to “My Story” series of over 10 life sized paintings that would be installed relative to the viewpoint portrayed. Each of the gestures and viewpoints suggest aspects of my autobiography as an immigrant artist.

This series will be accompanied with another series of monochromatic portraits and figurative paintings titled “Erosion”. These paintings are based on the injustices suffered by children due to political authorities and war. I aim to give a visual voice to a few of those children. I use photographs as my starting point. Their colourless existence affected me deeply and so this series was conceived of as monochromatic. By depicting these children, I feel as if I am providing them with a sense of the other side of the world, perhaps even as if I had switched lives with them.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your interpretation of war and its connection to the body?

The geopolitical context of my experience in this part of the world and sharing it has shaped a big part of my practice as an artist. I am responding to the increasingly global context in which we all now live.

Obviously one of the inevitable consequences of war is immigration. Immigration could be by force or choice and either one has their own side effects.

The connection of war and the body is how these displaced individuals, in greater numbers than ever, fit into the future. There is resilience in cases of displacement, and this can wear down an individual or a group.

What conversations do you hope to spark with this exhibition?

I often paint a large quantity of figurative work, at life scale. I hope the installation of this work immerses the viewer and in doing so, opens a dialogue about the survivorship of displaced peoples.

In my “Erosion” series, the process of making these images involves painting with oils, which are then obfuscated by solvent to make them blurry and monochromatic. In this way, I comment on the often forgotten and transient nature of many of these refugees’ lives. I am hoping this could resolve in creating an open pathway for sharing my perspective with the viewers. This exhibition includes several empty canvases to show the absence of those who passed away, vanished or were forgotten. I hope this installation could provoke the same emotional effect on my audience. Through my art, I want to make visible the unrecognized injustices that continue to unfold around the world.


My Story will be on display from Sept 25 – Oct 10 at the 918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media and Education. Public gallery hours are from Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. Elham will also be doing an Artist Talk on Saturday, September 28 from 2 – 3 pm, and the gallery will be open until 5 pm. 

An opening reception for Elham’s exhibit will take place on Thursday, September 26 from 6-9 pm. This event is free to attend! Click here to RSVP. 

For more information, visit

Interview by: Rachel Birnberg

Development and Communications Coordinator

Arts Feature: Tasneem Dairywala

Arts Feature: Tasneem Dairywala

We’re delighted to introduce Tasneem Dairywala, another one of our talented Northbound Gallery Program Artists! 

Tasneem is a new-generation emerging artist living and working in North York. Her work is inspired by her role as an art educator, her training at OCAD University, and traditional Pakistani art aesthetics.

Keep reading to learn more about Tasneem’s art process and her upcoming exhibition, Metamorphic Reflections

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

For me, art has always played an important role in understanding and decoding the complexity of human identities and relationships. In the last year, I have gotten more involved in my community, Flemingdon Park, as an artist and educator, and have started to collaborate with community members to create art. This has strengthened my belief in art’s power to break through social isolation and overcome the ethnocultural boundaries that divide us. 

Describe Metamorphic Reflections and your processes behind each portrait.

Metamorphic Reflections is a series of portrait paintings inspired by stories of Toronto residents from diverse demographics. Each painting is started through a question that encourages interviewees to self-reflect on how they define and value themselves. The photos taken during these interactions capture the subjects’ expressions as they speak and serve as inspirations for the paintings. The life-sized portraits are painted on mirrors and aim to capture the subjects’ presence and aura as they share their stories. 

What was your thought behind using mirrors as a medium?  

I wanted to paint on mirrors so that viewers could see other people’s portraits changing because of their reflections, changing how they see themselves and others. 

What do you hope people take away from the exhibition?

Through this installation, I hope to have viewers think about the similarities between themselves and the painted individuals, why it is so uncomfortable to connect with people and have meaningful conversations, and what can we do to overcome this discomfort and the social isolation it causes.

Metamorphic Reflections will be on display at the Toronto Centre for the Arts from September 25 – November 24, 2019. The exhibit will be open to the public Tuesday – Friday from 1-6 PM. For more information, click here.

Interview by: Rachel Birnberg

Development and Communications Coordinator

Snapd Arts Feature:Timea Wharton-Suri

Snapd Arts Feature:Timea Wharton-Suri

North York Arts is thrilled to be working with Timea Wharton-Suri this year! Timea is an arts and entertainment professional who grew up right here in North York. Having studied and worked all over the city and in various disciplines, she has gained a thorough perspective on art and community. We asked her about her passion for the arts, her current projects, and her take on the future of arts and culture in North York. 

Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your passion for the arts? 

For 20 years, I have been either performing, teaching, administrating, consulting, programming or producing the arts. Many of these roles have been undertaken simultaneously – the artist’s life! I was born and raised in North York and have since worked all over the city, mostly within dance, music and literary forms. I am a quiet, shy person and the arts have always allowed me to express myself. I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to weave the arts into every aspect of my life.

What projects are you working on that you are excited about?

I have a few irons in the fire, including curating the Uptown Moves dance series and a new discussion series for TO Live. Right now I’m deep into production of a new children’s literary event for North York Arts at the North York Central Library. For this free September 28th Culture Days event, the incredible Toronto Comic Arts Festival is programming renowned kid-focused comic artists and authors to present to and engage with kids and their parents. There will be feature artist presentations and workshops to get the kids creating their own stories.

In your opinion, how are art and community correlated? 

For me, the arts and healthy communities go hand-in-hand. Engaging with the arts provides community members with powerful tools to articulate their thoughts, emotions and concerns. The arts bring people together to both preserve past and create new experiences for growth. The arts are a means to community dialogue, to better mental and physical health, to greater mobilization, and to greater understanding. 

How would you describe North York’s art and culture community and how do you hope to see it evolve in the future?

Given the size and diversity of North York, I view local arts as having multiple communities of participants. And I mean that in a good way. We have the knowledge of so many cultures to be shared, and the artistic creation and sharing is necessarily done in numerous ways and spaces. These distinct arts communities can come together in parks, community centres and theatres to share their work. In future, I am hoping to see more diversity in the audiences of these distinct public expressions of culture. Why waste the beauty of having so many cultures in North York by only engaging with the art of your own?

For more information on Timea, you can visit her website at For more information about the Culture Days event with Toronto Comic Arts Festival and North York Arts visit 

Interview by: Rachel Birnberg

Development and Communications Coordinator

Arts Feature: Emma Lau

Arts Feature: Emma Lau

We love learning more about our talented Northbound artists! This month, we had the chance to talk to artist Emma Lau about her exhibition, A Quiet Mind II

A Quiet Mind II showcases Emma’s paintings, all of which translate her meditation practice into fine art. Keep reading to learn more about Emma’s artwork, her meditation experience, and the role meditation plays in her art-making process! 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your artwork?

My name is Emma Lau and I was born in 1979, London, England. I have lived in London, Hong Kong, and Toronto, having immersed in both The East and The West. My artwork explores visualizations of my meditation experience. My artwork is predominantly painting in abstraction using acrylic on canvas. The scale of my work varies from small canvases to canvases as tall as I am.

Can you tell us about your experience with meditation?

I had read a lot of spiritual books and books on Eastern philosophy and they all emphasized the importance of meditating as well as reading – that it was not enough to simply have the knowledge from reading – one must meditate too. In 2009, I found a group that believed, as I did, that the way to achieve a sustainable world peace was through individuals experiencing their inner peace and the way to this was through meditation. Through this group I was eventually invited to Thailand in 2010, where Buddhist monks who have mastered meditation guided me to meditate at a deep level. This had a profound effect on all aspects of my life and my subsequent artwork.

How does your meditation experience influence or guide your art-making process?

I meditate before each painting session. The meditation that precedes the beginning of a new painting is especially important. After meditation, I begin to paint. Part of my mind is still in the depths of the meditation and that affects the composition of the painting. I paint in abstraction, but there is an element of description to my work. As though of a place familiar though never visited. Sometimes there is a sense of an opening or gateway, perhaps to another dimension or a deeper level within meditation.

What do you hope people will take away from your exhibit? 

At the least, I hope people enjoy the experience of the exhibition and viewing the paintings. At most, I hope people (who do not yet meditate) may be inspired to try meditation some time in the future. I hope people further question the belief that there is something greater in existence than what we currently perceive.

A Quiet Mind II is on display from August 14 – August 29 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Public gallery hours are from Tuesday to Friday, 1-6 pm. There will be extended gallery hours on August 22 (5-8 pm) and August 24 (1:30-5 pm). 

An opening reception for Emma’s exhibit will take place on Thursday, August 15 from 6-9 pm. This event is free to attend! Click here to RSVP. 

To learn more, visit

Interview by: Kavita Gurm

Communications and Events Assistant

Arts Feature: Mika Babineau

Arts Feature: Mika Babineau

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

Snapd Arts Feature: Brant Matthews (Fireguy)

Snapd Arts Feature: Brant Matthews (Fireguy)

For over 15 years, Brant Matthews (a.k.a. Fireguy) has had a burning desire to entertain the world with its most fascinating element. Based in Toronto, he has performed in countries all over the world, and we were lucky to have him bring the heat to Cultura Festival last month! 

Keep reading to learn more about Brant and his fiery skills, his experience working with Toronto performers, and his thoughts on arts and culture in the North York community. 

Can you tell us about yourself, your interests, and what you do? 

I’m a Guinness World Record Holder in Fire Eating and have been performing fire and glow shows at various events for over 20 years. 

How and why did you get into fire performing? 

I learnt how to juggle for a play and wanted to learn fire juggling. Then I figured I should learn how to fire eat. Following that I started busking on the streets of Montreal. It’s been a slow and steady rise from gig to gig where I now travel the world with my show. 

What is it like getting to work with so many talented performers in Toronto?

I started a talent agency called Dispatch Talent that had a training space in North York. I now book many performers for events and enjoy mentoring up and coming acts. It’s very cool to see people grow their talent and become self sufficient artists. 

How do you think organizations like ours can work together to increase the arts and culture profile of North York?

We need to get more people on the street with their art. I feel that the street can teach people about dealing with rejection. Rejection is the best way to learn what isn’t working and what is. I would love to see streets filled with artists of all types adding to the culture of North York and the GTA. Mel Lastman Square is such a nice area for shows and events like Cultura Festival, which really makes use of the space with music, food, and an outdoor movie (and of course, there were some fantastic buskers brought to you by Dispatch Talent!)

We’re excited to announce that Brant will be hosting North York Arts’ inaugural fundraiser on October 24th! To learn more about the event, visit To learn more about Fireguy, visit and to learn more about Dispatch Talent visit

Interview by: Kavita Gurm

Communications and Events Assistant

Sneak Peak: Cultura Festival Playlist for July 26th!

Sneak Peak: Cultura Festival Playlist for July 26th!

It’s hard to believe that the fourth and final night of Cultura Festival is this Friday – time really does fly when you’re having fun! 

To close off this year’s festival, we’ve got a spectacular group of performers lined up, including live music from The Arsenals and Charmie! Want to learn more about each artist and get a sneak peek of their music? Keep reading! 

If you like what you hear, make sure you join us this Friday, July 26 from 6 – 11 PM at Mel Lastman Square to catch their free performances at Cultura. 

The Arsenals

The Arsenals 100% Kick-Ass Ska, a.k.a. The Arsenals, is a 6-piece Toronto based band that blends Jamaican Ska, Rockysteady, Reggae, and “Ska-terized” Pop music. They play the history of Jamaican Music, from authentic Studio One Ska and Rocksteady to classic Reggae! 


Charmie is a passionate 23-year-old singer-songwriter based in Toronto. She plays a unique contemporary fusion of Rhythm, Blues, Pop, and Soul music. As a self taught musician, Charmie excels at playing guitar, piano, bass, and drums!

Photo by: Jeff Sun

Sneak Peak: Cultura Festival Playlist for July 19th!

Sneak Peak: Cultura Festival Playlist for July 19th!

We can’t wait for the musical performances at Cultura Festival this Friday, July 19! We are very lucky to have two incredibly talented bands taking the stage: Delhi 2 Dublin and Moskitto Bar

Keep reading to learn more about each band and check out our suggested playlists to get a sneak peek of each group’s unique sound! 

Love the music and want to hear more? Stop by Cultura this Friday evening from 6 – 11 PM at Mel Lastman Square to watch both bands play LIVE (and for free) right here in North York! These are going to be two showstopping performances you won’t want to miss! 

Delhi 2 Dublin

Delhi 2 Dublin is a Vancouver-based electronic ensemble that brings South Asian influences into the world of Western pop music. They play a fusion of Bhangra, electronic, funk, dub, reggae, hip hop, Celtic music, and a mashup of other genres!

Moskitto Bar

Moskitto Bar started with the connection of three talented artists playing in the woods at Ontario’s OM Festival, while mosquitoes fed on them. Since then, more musicians have joined, sharing their passion for music and mixing cultures. Moskitto Bar’s sound combines Ukrainian, Balkan, Iraqi, Middle-Eastern, and French Celtic music.

Photo by: Shoeb Kadri