Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Guided Visits at Simcoe Hall: acknowledging the land

Works by
Rebecca Belmore (b.1960, Anishinaabe)
Catherine Blackburn (b.1984, Dene/European)
Lori Blondeau (b.1964, Cree/Saulteaux/Métis)
Dana Claxton (b.1959, Hunkpapa Lakota)
*Caroline Monnet (b.1985, Anishinaabe/French)
Katherine Takpannie (b.1989, Inuk)

Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory (b.1979, Inuk), with Jamie Griffiths (b.1965, English)

For the first time in its history, the storied Simcoe Hall hosts a long-term installation of contemporary photography from the university’s permanent collection foregrounding some of today’s most respected Indigenous artists from across Canada, spanning several generations. Traditionally, Simcoe Hall displays portraits of leaders who shaped the University of Toronto’s development over nearly two centuries. In a significant gesture acknowledging the importance of making space for Indigenous voices and presence, these portraits have been moved aside to make way for works of art that honour Indigenous continuity and resilience in confronting the colonial occupation of the land.  

The works included in this project bear testimony to the past and persistent intentions of colonization, its imprint on the land, reverberations in the body, and impact on contemporary life. Summoning matrilineal lines of solidarity and fortitude, they also attest to indomitable Indigenous resistance and resurgence. Drawing strength from familial, social, and beyond-human relations, some of the artists create self-portraits that emphasize their inextricable networks of connections. An equally central motif is the reckoning with the depths of historical and ongoing trauma, as colonial violence is surmounted by summoning an enduring and restorative love among community. Throughout the exhibition, portraiture elicits a re-imagining of Indigenous self-determination and strength in defying settler oppression. 

Together, these works harness the power of symbolic redress within the photographic image, offering layered accounts of the land upon which the University of Toronto operates and the vaster territory that continues to be the home and meeting place of Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island. As chroniclers, creators, and interpreters, artists bring to light important stories, disrupt dominant discourse, and reframe the understanding of history. In these artists’ hands, the camera becomes a world-making instrument, linking narratives across time and place, and offering new points of engagement and connection. 

Read the full press release.

*Please note that Caroline Monnet’s Echoes from a near future (2022) has been temporarily removed for conservation purposes. The piece is expected to return in early spring. 

Location:
Simcoe Hall
27 King’s College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A1

Visiting and Public Programming Information
The installation is open to the public during regular business hours: Monday to Friday, 9:30am–4pm.

To book a Guided Visit for you or your group:

  1. Register via Eventbrite for one of the currently scheduled dates. More dates will be made available in the new year.
  2. If none of the listed dates work for you, you may also email Melody Lu (mel.lu@utoronto.ca) to arrange another date. However, dates are dependent on building availability and are recommended for groups of up to 20. We require two weeks advance notice for bookings.

Under the leadership of the President’s Office, and through wide-ranging conversations with Indigenous artists, curators, faculty members and staff, the installation was produced by the Art Museum with the generous support of the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at the University of Toronto.

Title and Page Image: Dana Claxton, Headdress – Dana, 2021, LED firebox. University of Toronto Art Collection.

Program Archive

Feature Past Programs