Reflections on My Second Apartment Art Show

Looking for an art experience that breaks the gallery mold? Dive into the story of my third apartment art show, "Find What Shames You." This post explores the raw emotions, self-discovery, and the power of community that unfolded within the walls of my own home.

4/1/20244 min read

Last week, Sunday March 24th, I had a solo in my apartment, "Find What Shames You", Curated by Renee Matthews, and artist talk hosted by Hasina Kamanzi. Close friends and peers were of course invited, but it was also open to public, advertising for the event primarily hinged on word of mouth, postcards and whoever felt comfortable to personally DM me on Instagram. Art shows in artist's personal residence isn't something new, I believe its' importance to the culture of art, has long been recorded and seen as grassroots approach to displaying works, and fostering community. In thought I'd take the time to answer the question on what influenced my decision to host shows at my personal residence, and some of my findings.

Building on Last Year's Fun

Last year, I held a well received, fulfilling apartment art show on March 25th titled "Rearview." Inspired by the painting of the same name, the show explored the concept of looking back while moving forward, a sentiment that resonated deeply as I celebrated my 25th birthday, in particular my champagne birthday (A birthday date that corrospendanes with your age, 25 years old on the 25th). A microgrant I received through nomination and a friend's encouragement to actively celebrate my life, PLUS the pressure to create some work for my first art fair at the Artist Project TO.pushed me to organize the event. With less than a month to plan, I improvised throughout the process, and the stress of hosting the show in my living space was real, despite many friends arriving early that day, calming my nerves and helping with last-minute lighting solutions. The install was definitely the most challenging part, it's something I never learned as self taught artist.

More Than Just Hanging Pictures: Facing Fears

Other than the logistical challenges, a more profound fear emerged. I worried not only about strangers and acquaintances seeing my art incomplete stages, but also about them seeing where I lived. It wasn't a fear of stalkers, but rather a vulnerability of being seen in ways I hadn't prepared for. It was as if the walls of my home held onto every conversation, every intimate moment, and these would be on display for all to see. The shame-induced anxiety tugged at me, but superseding fierce desire to be seen, dominated. In the midst of the bustling crowd, I didn't have time to dwell on my anxieties. However, unknowingly, I was learning a valuable skill: the ability to be seen in my personhood, without collapsing under the weight to my perceptions of their gaze.

The one night show was great, I floated on positive energy of last year's show for month's honesty I still think about it every time i'm in my living room.

A Different Path This Year

This year, however, things were different, I was balancing full-time university studies with two jobs – a peer researcher position and a youth art program coordinator for LGBTQ youth in Scarborough – alongside an upcoming international exhibition, and became utterly overwhelmed. Which led to a critical self-evaluation of my art practice and life choices, and so after nearly four years in my previous, I made the difficult decision to leave my previous workspace in the middle of my programming, which 20 + people took part in. While mentoring queer youth was incredibly rewarding, the job had taken a toll.

As my birthday approached, I felt the need to recreate the this aspect of being seen, in my own humanity .Leaving my job felt empowering, a choice to prioritize joy and self-love. Planning the show on a tight deadline with only a week and half's notice was ambitious, but fueled by wishful thinking & hope. And In hiring a Curator, Hosting, + reaching out to assistants.

This show was also fueled by the unexpected power of disappointment. Disappointment in myself for prioritizing others' needs over my own, and a growing concern about the state of community programming in Toronto, all played a role. Witnessing the ongoing refusal to acknowledge genocide by governments left me feeling frustrated and unheard.

But disappointment, as I discovered, can be a powerful catalyst. It sparked a fire within me, a deep yearning to connect, to create a space for our shared humanity, and to keep fighting for a world filled with love. It was a reminder that sometimes, feeling let down is the push we need to stand up for ourselves and for what we believe in. It's a call to action, for justice.

Community over perfection

Just like last year, my aim was to gather loved ones and forge new connections in the comfort of my home, my favorite space. I envisioned completing three new paintings, but felt it was more urgent to share time with friends who slept over and spent the weekend.

The three days leading up to the show were a whirlwind of artistic creation, sprucing up the place, cleaning, celebrating my birthday, and of course, getting ready to host everyone.

The actual evening was a night of pure joy. Compared to the first year, any anxieties around the actual contents of the show melted away completely. For me, it became quite clear that the artwork was only one aspect of the holistic experience for the viewer.

Guests were able to see the space where I spend the vast majority of my time, where I start and end my day, all of my most intimate moments soaked into the wooden floors. Viewers also saw my hard-earned relationships, from seeing old classmates and friends reconnecting, their laughter and warmth filling the space, who then inform the work I do. This process created a more beautiful portrait of my humanity than any painting could.

The palpable sense of community, fueled by the love overflowing in the room, truly defined the success of the show.

This wasn't about conforming to the sterile standards of commercial galleries. Homes, after all, are made for living, loving, and rest. This show captured everything I loved about working in community art programming, where art wasn't something distant but a tangible part of our experience and invites the viewers to think "I could do this too," because art is and always will be for the people. Appreciation for the arts should be shared and feel like it's just next door, waiting for you with a warm meal and great company.

A special thanks to everyone who attended, poured into this, and left with something more. Thank you for existing in community with me.

In a future post, I'll delve deeper into the specific artworks, Renee Matthews' Curation, and the exploration process led by Hasina during our artist talk.