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Tree Protection Zone

Works by

Shuvinai Ashoona, Susan Blight, Carrie Hill, Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch (Onaman Collective), Taqralik Partridge in collaboration with Nils Ailo Utsi, Que Rock/Manitou Nemeen (Quentin Commanda)

Tree Protection Zone

September 8, 2021–August 31, 2022

Hart House Commons

Curated by Mik Migwans and Maria Hupfield

Project Coordinator: mihyun maria kim
Artist Assistants: Anran Guo, Claire Heidinger, Conrad Richter, Kristi Chen, Marli Davis, and Sophia Oppel

As large-scale construction on the University of Toronto’s Landmark Initiative continues around the Hart House Commons, a number of large tree-protection hoardings have inspired a public art project entitled the Tree Protection Zone (TPZ).

TPZ involves artists who transformed the hoardings into a celebration of the garden and trees, the buried waterway (Taddle Creek) that remains under the soil, and the community that is centred here. The aptly named project features specially commissioned, mural-sized works by eight Indigenous artists and their collaborators considering the preservation of life, water, and kin; and how each is inextricably linked to the protection of trees.

This temporary public art project provides an opportunity to engage students and the wider public in essential conversations about the land and its people and helps to set the stage for the permanent Indigenous Landscape Project—an offshoot of the Landmark Initiative—that will be constructed on the Commons in Spring/Summer 2022.

The artists participating in the TPZ were supported by student assistants and emerging artists who benefited from the unique opportunity to closely engage with the artists’ processes, vision, and knowledge.

The Tree Protection Zone (TPZ) was made possible by Presenting Partners including the Office of the Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, University of Toronto; the Art Museum at the University of Toronto; Hart House; Indigenous Student Services; and the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at U of T. The project was produced in conjunction with ArtworxTO, the City of Toronto’s Year of Public Art.

The TPZ was completed and open for public viewing on September 7, 2021. It will run until Spring/Summer 2022, at which point the Indigenous Landscape Project will begin.

Artist Projects

Shuvinai Ashoona, Composition (Octopus Transformation)
Susan Blight, 6 kilometres and 8000 years long
Carrie Hill, Tewarontanonhna (We guard the tree)
Christi Belcourt (Onaman Collective), Mother Earth Revolution
Isaac Murdoch (Onaman Collective), Protect the Sacred
Taqralik Partridge in collaboration with Nils Ailo Utsi, Meahcis / in the forest
Que Rock/Manitou Nemeen (Quentin Commanda), Every Child is Sacred

Exhibition Resources

Press Release
Media Coverage

Our Supporters

We gratefully acknowledge operating support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council. Additional project support is provided by the City of Toronto’s Arts and Culture Grant, and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) and U of T’s Postsecondary Education Fund for Aboriginal Learners (PEFAL).

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HartHouse logo in black lettering against white and grey checkered background