IWD in Peterborough: The Art of Resistance

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.”
Ursula K. Le Guin

The stage is set, the artists are ready, the stories are waiting to be told, and Nogojiwanong/Peterborough women are pumped.

The ‘Art of Resistance’ is this years’s theme for the International Women’s Day (IWD) community potluck and panel presentation, co-hosted annually by Kawartha World Issues Centre (KWIC) and Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC) — an evening of great food, music, speakers, solidarity and celebration Thursday, March 8 at 5 p.m. at Seeds of Change (Emmanuel East United Church, corner of George and McDonnel Streets)

iwd poster 2018

“I’m excited for the panel this year, and the theme of  the Art of Resistance really resonates with everything that has been going on all over the world this past year,” said Faith  Mwesigye, an international Trent University student from Uganda, volunteer with KWIC and member of the evening’s programming committee. “I can’t wait to hear our amazing panelists share their thoughts on these issues.”

“Last year was my first year attending it and it was quite the diverse and welcoming experience,” she continued, “with the delicious community potluck, and the amazing and inspiring knowledge that the women on the panel were sharing. It was truly a fun, positive and empowering evening.” 

Poet and Trent University PhD Candidate Smokii Sumac will moderate the panel featuring local activist and artist Niambi Leigh and visiting artists from New York City, Nina Mercer and Alexandria Smith, of Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter.
The guest panelists will “explore intersectional and creative responses to inspire social movement and challenge racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and classism”, states a press release.

Lisa Clarke,  community engagement manager at KSAC, said the IWD committee had the opportunity to partner with a symposium and four-day workshop Manifesting Resistance: Conversations about Intergenerational Memory Work across ‘the Americas.’, organized by Trent University’s Aging Activisms and being held the same week as IWD.

“We saw it as an opportunity to hear from two Black women artists from the Black Lives Matter movement in New York. We know, as a Centre, survivors of multiple forms of oppression are brought together through creativity, art and voice. Art is an incredibly powerful medium for social justice work,” said Clarke.

frizz kid

By Frizz Kid (Used With Permission)

“So often in our main stream culture, voices are silenced by the system and institutions, but through art, you can develop a voice in different ways — visual, spoken word, music — and that bridge for survivors’ voices is accessible and empowering,” she said.

“As humans we are drawn to creative expression. Sometimes the general pubic can’t ‘hear’ survivors’ words. By building emotional connections, and empathy through art, survivors’ experiences can be better heard,” Clarke said.


Deb Reynolds agrees. She’s a local artist and a founder of Creating Space Peterborough, a community arts studio. She, and other members of the studio, will be presenting pop-up art at the IWD event.

“I think art as resistance is a way to give us power and voice in a way that isn’t expressed in the media of tv and pop culture,” said Reynolds. “It’s a vehicle to be heard, particularly for marginalized voices who have been oppressed, to speak and be heard in a way that is not represented through traditional means.”

pop up art for iwd

“We are all a piece of the whole.”: Local Artist Deb Reynolds (Photo Credit: Deb Reynolds)

For the evening’s pop up art, she has prepared large-ish puzzle pieces with magnets attached to the backs. People will be invited to write, on the puzzle piece, a quote from women related to protest, being heard, etc. — from #nastywoman to “nevertheless she persisted” to quotes from Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama.
“The invitation is for people to write one of these quotes (or one of their own choosing) on a puzzle piece, and take it out in the community and attach it somewhere,” said Reynolds. “They can take a photo of it and tag it with #IWDptbo or some other tag we come up with. . . we’ll also tag it somehow to refer to us being a piece of a whole.  Coming together we make up the whole picture.”
Reynolds believes the “very act of making art free or operating within a gift economy is an act of resistance against a system that monetizes everything. I think art that hasn’t been commodified is largely an act of rebellion”.
Special guests during the evening include: Chief Phyllis Williams of Curve Lake; Kim Muskratt & Suzanne Smoke of Hiawatha First Nation; Councillor Diane Therrien; the Raging Grannies; Susan Newman; Creating Space Community Arts Studio; and event hosts, Chhavi Chawla and Zara Syed.
This is a free public event that is gender and child-friendly (there will be a children’s craft table), organized with community organizations and sponsors. Donations and potluck items are welcome. Everyone is welcome!
Time: Doors open at 5 p.m.; Potluck & Celebration at 5:30 p.m.; IWD panel program at 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
By Melodie McCullough

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