Breaking Barriers at the Wall Candy Art Expo
By Andrea Elena
Ottawa, September 2021 –
Building a more equitable society requires an intersectional approach to creating space and opportunity. It means all of us working together to find innovative ways to make space for people in communities that have traditionally been marginalized. The Wall Candy Art Expo, created by artists for artists, has designed a program to help break down barriers that many in marginalized communities have faced. Entering the art world can already pose several challenges for people, from being able to afford art supplies, to having the emotional and mental endurance to withstand the ups and downs presented by a career as an artist. Among the many hurdles faced by those in the art community, includes competing to get into galleries, special exhibits, competitions, and art shows.
The organizers of the Wall Candy Art Expo decided to address some of the barriers faced by members of marginalized communities, in an effort to bring more equity to the art show experience. This year, they launched the Breaking Barriers Program, which offers a lottery-based award of a free-of-charge-booth at the expo. The communities eligible for this program include Indigenous, POC, Black, 2sLGBTQIA+, but was also extended to people with a disability, and/or people facing financial challenges.
In order to help fund this initiative, Wall Candy turned to local businesses in the Ottawa community. They secured two Official Sponsorship spots from Wallack’s Art Supplies and Framing, as well as one Official Sponsorship spot from Shoebox Studio. Together, these sponsorships allowed for three awards to be offered for the Breaking Barrier Program.
Applicants were selected through a lottery system, to help prevent any further barriers that may be enmeshed in selection processes. Ultimately, this method (proposed by local artist, Colleen Gray, founder of Art for Aid in Ottawa), is an equitable approach. Candidates selected included Robin Dostaler (of Shameless Envy, who repurposes animal skulls as accessories and decor), KJ Forman (of Lucky Little Queer, whose flowery and edgy artistic style features feminist and 2sLGBTQ+ mantras), as well as Cate Brown (a contemporary abstract artist of female nudes).
Wall Candy proudly showcased these artists, through the support of Wallack's and Shoebox Studio. This is how the art community can work together to create space for marginalized artists, and serve in building a more equitable art community.