Published March 7, 2019


March 7, 2019

Blackwood Gallery
3359 Mississauga Rd.,
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6

As artists return to the process of art-making versus the tangible art object, institutions need to be able to know how to respond by collecting and supporting this type of art. This workshop will introduce what social practice art is and how it can fit within the current traditional institutional collecting model. Institutions will learn how to collaborate and support these types of artists by collecting their work and incorporating them into their programming including how to properly engage and manage Indigenous art and artifacts in colonial collections. This workshop will address the growing urgency of our stakeholders to understand such emerging collection-related practices.

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: With many contemporary artists increasingly focused on the process of artmaking, versus creating a tangible object, there is a major return of  Art as Social Practice or Participatory Art. This creates a new alignment for art institutions and artists as both attempt to foreground this shift. Lucy Lippard or Rebecca Belmore are two quick examples of this development. This genre requires not only an audience but also a market to collect/purchase such works. Yves Klein pioneered the purchase of art experiences with his series “Transfer of a Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility” (1959-62). The major impact of these early practices of collections led to many collectors not just investing in the art objects themselves, but in the artist as an agent of social change. The National Truth and Reconciliation process has given an impetus to this dimension in the arts. Thus, this workshop will be addressing the growing urgency by our stakeholders to understand such emerging collection-related practices.

This workshop will focus on investigating collecting models for art as a social practice. During the workshop, participants will engage in thoughtful discussion about how institutions can support social practice art creators, ethical and collaborative collections, and understand how they relate to the traditional collecting models.


1. Breaking the Institutional Model:

  • This session will introduce the investigation into new models of looking at collections by discussing how institutions are making changes to their collecting practices to accommodate art as social practice. Participants will learn how their institutions can support and collaborate with artists and how they can enact activism from within an institutional framework.

2. Engaging and Working with Indigenous Art and Artists:

  • Collections have a growing number of works by Indigenous artists. Indigenous gallery professionals will inform and discuss with participants how colonially mandated institutions can strategize to properly engage, collaborate, and manage Indigenous works in their collections.

3. Social Practice Art Ethics:

  • Blackwood Gallery will give a presentation on the ethics of social practice and share a set of questions they are currently exploring about the possibility of collecting social practice both in relation to the current and future work of the Blackwood Gallery.

4. Different Institutional Models:

  • This session will focus on how other art organizations have moved away from the traditional collecting model. There will be a discussion on how institutions can have exhibitions, programming, and other activities while not necessarily having a physical building or physical collection.

Adrian Blackwell, Artist and Associate Professor, School of Architecture University of Waterloo
Suzanne Carte, Senior Curator, Art Gallery of Burlington
Emelie Chhangur, Interim Director/Curator, Art Gallery of York University
Alison Cooley, Assistant Curator, Blackwood Gallery
Pat Deadman, Visual Artist and Indepedent Curator
Bonnie Devine, Associate Professor Emerita, OCAD University
November Paynter, Artistic Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto
Christine Shaw, Director/Curator, Blackwood Gallery
Marjan Verstappen, Co-Director, Younger than Beyoncé


OAAG gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the Museums Assistance Program for their support. OAAG gratefully acknowledges the Blackwood Gallery for venue and logistical support.