Summertime art is the bee’s knees

Saturday, August 23 was a great day to instill summer spirit as the season comes to a close. Busy Bees and Other Summer Creatures was one of the most unique accessible programs to date at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Classic tactile art activities were produced, but something new was added to the mix: an interactive presentation with a beekeeper.

Toronto-based beekeeper Jared Taylor was our guest program facilitator. Jared and his wife, Melanie, manage bees and produce their own honey right outside of Kleinburg. This year, the McMichael acquired bee boxes to produce local honey. Jared manages the bees, which currently live on the surrounding gallery grounds within the Humber River Valley.  Jared led an educational presentation for the participants, discussing how bees produce honey, different hierarchies of the nest and the tools used to manage the black and yellow critters as they create liquid gold.

Everyone had an opportunity to try a slice (or two!) of sticky sweet honey, right off the honeycomb. Jared’s beekeeper suit and mask added a fun spin to traditional dress up activities, while he informed the group about the use of a bee smoker and why it is a useful contraption to calm bees in the honey-collecting process.

Following the presentation, the group moved inside to produce multimedia art projects. Honeycomb Creations were the first activity, using textured candle wax in different colours to decorate a rock or flower pot. Rocks were transformed into bees, mice and other cute critters. Intricate shapes and designs added character to each insect.

The group also worked on watercolour paintings inspired by the McMichael landscape and summertime blooms. Drawings were sketched onto craft paper with colourful ink markers before artists used a sponge paintbrush to blur lines and shapes with water, adding an abstract feel.

Busy Bees and Other Summer Creatures was a full house and great way to end summer programs at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

We look forward to another afternoon of accessible and inclusive art making at Adventure of a Maple Leaf on Saturday, October 18, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

To register, please visit the McMichael website.

Members of Autism Ontario are free. Please provide your Autism Ontario membership number at time of booking. Attendants do not pay.

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Celebrating LIFE with art at the McMichael

Since November 4, 2013, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection has been the Monday stomping ground for five talented youth. Members of Kerry’s Place Autism Services completed a six week partnership program with the organization. The LIFE  (Learning Independence Through Facilitated Education) Academy Program is a course offered to youth aged 18 and up, which is a socially interactive experience that develops life skills for post secondary education, independent living and employment. Drawing from the surrounding landscape and history, each participant completed a portfolio of vibrant works worthy of exhibition.

The program was taught by McMichael educator Christina Kerr, and Emmanuel Elkabas-Besnard, an instructor from Kerry’s Place and a professionally trained artist currently pursuing a Fine Arts Degree at York University. It was a great opportunity to merge teaching methods in a free-flowing environment against the stunning winter backdrop of the Humber River Trail.

Each week, the students intently worked on rough sketches and paintings. They also visited the gallery to experience the current exhibition You Are Here: Kim Dorland and the Return to Painting. Students had the opportunity to hear from the Toronto-based artist during a gallery talk, where they learned about his painting techniques and the influence of Tom Thomson,  members of the Group of Seven, and other Canadian artists on his own work.

On Monday, December 9, the participants of LIFE Academy at the McMichael celebrated their final day by completing their portfolio pieces, inserting them into customized canvas bags. The group listened to Electro-Jazz, The Tragically Hip and St. Germain compilations during each brushstroke and pencil sketch. Kerr and Elkabas-Besnard awarded each participant their own certificate of completion. Before heading out into the brisk winter weather, the artists made a toast with piping hot chocolate and cookies.

It was a sweet ending to an awesome program that created new friendships and inspired innovative techniques. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see these pieces on our walls someday, parallel to Thomson and the greats.

The LIFE Academy gather for a group photo in fron of the McMichael sign on December 9, 2013. From left to right: Stephanie Lee, Christina Kerr, Rebecca Ribchester, Daniel Ciccarelli, Tommy Deonauth, Emmanuel Elkabas-Besnard and Scott Lee.

The LIFE Academy gather for a group photo in front of the McMichael sign on December 9, 2013. From left to right: Stephanie Lee, Christina Kerr, Rebecca Ribchester, Daniel Ciccarelli, Tommy Deonauth, Emmanuel Elkabas-Besnard and Scott Lee.

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Specialized Santa visits for children with autism

Our partner organization, Kerry’s Place Autism Services will be at five Oxford Property malls in the Greater Toronto Area to provide support this holiday season. Children with autism will have the chance to visit Santa Claus in a tranquil setting from 9 to 11 a.m. at the following locations:

  • Square One, Missisauga
  • Scarborough Town Centre
  • Hillcrest Mall, Richmond Hill
  • Upper Canada Mall, Newmarket
  • Yorkdale, Toronto

Check out the article published yesterday in the Toronto Star for details.
A truly joyful way to celebrate accessibility and incluson this season!