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New Year’s Art Resolutions for 2017

We asked some notable artists, curators, writers and gallerists what they’d like to see and do, or not see and do, in 2017. Here’s what they told us.

Make better paintings and wittier social media posts.geetha thurairajah, artist, Toronto

I’d like to continuously clear space in my life, a kind of carving of time—ample time—to be. And then—think with, read with, see with, listen with, make with. —Tanya Lukin Linklater, artist, North Bay, Ontario

My New Year’s resolution is to say NO to a lot more things: NO to white supremacy, NO to sexism, NO to processed carbs!Chloe Wise, artist, New York

I would like to give people what they want—to see, enjoy and embrace—in the art museum.Stephen Borys, director, Winnipeg Art Gallery

My dream for the world of art in Canada is that solo exhibitions of female artists work at major institutions, particularly the work of Indigenous women and women of colour, is not such a rarity.Amy Malbeuf, artist, originally from Rich Lake, Alberta

“What do you want to see happen in the coming year?” The question feels heavier than it would have in 2015. I want to be flip and say simply, that I hope for a better year than this last one. But I can also elaborate, in the context of art, and say, I want to see art play a more important role in communicating the difficulties of the times we are in, to a broader and more engaged audience. I want to see art normalized as an important and powerful tool for education, dissent, and catalyzing discourse; and steer away from its alliance with the luxury goods market. This of course requires changes in the way art is displayed, curated, contextualized, circulated and so forth – so perhaps I want to see new ways of administrating art, new spaces for gathering around it, and a displacement of the more calcified systems and institutions.Shannon R. Stratton, William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator, Museum of Arts and Design, New York

I would love to see more institutional/curatorial bravery. I would love to see Canadian curators break away from the Group of Seven and find something/someone else to talk about. I want to see more Indigenous, racialized, differently abled, and LGBT artists take/make space, kick ass and find success and support in the coming year. I want to see art education that reflects the presence and importance of Canadian artists who are not white men. I want to see more light shone on women’s labour in the cultural sector. I’d be thrilled to see a purposeful prioritization of Canadian cultural production that reaches beyond one-off initiatives. I hope that all of “cross-cultural/diverse” Canada 150 proposals continue to move forward with or without special project funding (because shouldn’t we be doing this all the time?).Deanna Bowen, artist, Toronto

My 2017 resolution is to continue to use my public library as a resource and encourage others to support public libraries to continue in the building of their printed book collections. —Jamelie Hassan, artist and independent curator, London, Ontario

My resolution: To do my part to continue to push the limits of expectations, innovation and creation just like those who came before me.Maria Hupfield, artist, currently based in Brooklyn

To look more closely; be more kind; find more daring paths.—Sophie Hackett, curator, Toronto

I hope 2017 sees more permanent positions for Indigenous curators that don’t require them to only curate work by Indigenous artists. I hope institutions continue to decolonize by welcoming structural and methodological changes in the way we do and consider our work. I hope we engage more with the local First Nations, Inuit or Métis communities in and around our cities while recognizing that the Indigenous experience is fluid and multifaceted. I hope we can keep having nuanced discussions about Indigenous art while creating space for non-cisgendered and non-white folks to speak, to be heard, and for the rest of us to be changed.Tarah Hogue, curator, Vancouver

In 2017, I’d like more people to send me interesting, thoughtful (and hopefully kind) mail.

Potential topics include:

– good advice you’ve received
– a favourite poem
– a story of why you love a particular artwork
– something sweet, yet devastatingly intelligent, that your child said
– pro tips for remedying the sh*tstorm of 2016

Please address letters to:

Mireille Eagan, Curator
The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery
P.O. Box 1800, Stn. C
St. John’s, NL
A1C 5P9

I’ll send something nice back as a thank you.Mireille Eagan, curator, St. John’s

I want to see more art, less politics.Edward Burtynsky, artist, Toronto (in response to question, What do you want to see happen in the coming year?)

What do I want to see happen in the coming year? Full communism!Jason Jones, artist, Not an Alternative, New York

I look forward to the year 2016 coming to an end. It was a year with many political shifts and unsettling world events, but I am looking ahead to 2017 with hope for solidarity and collaboration within humanity. On my part, I aim to make more art that speaks to the many social concerns that deepened in 2016. I will use my voice to further my ideas and give greater agency to those around me.Brendan Fernandes, artist, Chicago

My resolution: I’d like to see the art world act more on the theory it so often likes to quote and for artists, art institutions, and curators to act on the often radical politics they say they support. But most of all I want to maintain hope.Amber Berson, curator, Montreal

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant – ” as Emily Dickinson wrote. This year especially, I’d like to see some new approaches to Indigenous and settler art histories in Canada.—Adam Welch, curator, Ottawa

I look forward to wearing my new Stetson and cowboy boots more than once in Calgary this year! Also, I look forward to the exciting projects and developments that will occur throughout the year at Contemporary Calgary.Pierre Arpin, director and CEO, Contemporary Calgary

I hope that in 2016 there is more media coverage of what’s happening in arts in the Atlantic, the North and the overlooked rural areas of Canada, and not only because a donor is paying people to pay attention.Melanie Colosimo, director, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax

I am going to be selfish. I want more time to read. Not proposals, or emails, or didactics, but writing that takes me away from my everyday. My current pile includes: Clearing the Plains by James Daschuk, The White Road by Edmund De Waal,Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben, and to finish The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis.Naomi Potter, director/curator, Esker Foundation, Calgary

I would hope we can start to support art and artists in more rural locations and within Indigenous territories. Let’s de-centre the institutions and start engaging with the land.Tania Willard, artist and curator, Secwepemculecw, Neskonlith Indian Reservation, near Chase BC

In 2017 I’d like to see more honest and open discussion about POC visibility, which is categorically low across the board, in our mental and physical art spaces in Toronto. Direct action with a focus on exploration on the part of curators, gallerists and writers. Confronting the ways in which our paths of exploration are deterred or shortened by classism and/or racism, is just necessary for growth, and that confrontation should be a constant action.Tau Lewis, artist, Toronto

In 2003, Fredric Jameson wrote that “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” In conversations I have had with disability studies scholar Rod Michalko, he has riffed off the Jameson quote to say that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than a different one. Comments such as, “I’d kill myself if I were blind” suggest that people find it easier to imagine the end of their life than to imagine a life with difference. Of course, disabled people have always demonstrated that a life with difference—a different sort of world—is possible. I think now, more than ever, we need to build collective capacity to imagine a different kind of world (and resist the temptation to think of this as the beginning of the end). So, now, more than ever, we need to look to artists because artists have always helped us collectively imagine a different world.—Eliza Chandler, professor, School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University

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Gordon Sebastian says:

As native people realize that we are not frozen in time we must expand and show case worldwide. The talent
The message within the art
The expertise

Kit Cutting says:

I would like to see a national portrait gallery. Lets get all those portraits out for of their dusty cupboards and warehouses. Perhaps galleries and museums across Canada could each curate a show for their gallery. They could raise awareness of the shameful way we are hiding our nations portraits .

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