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Freedom CC Gallery

a non-profit Toronto gallery supporting local emerging artists

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A little interview with Diana VanderMeulen, curator of the Summer Ashes art show:

On Sunday night, the last night of the Summer Ashes group show, Diana invited us into her home – the site of the exhibition. We conveniently arrived just as Diana and her roommates were sitting down to a super cute family dinner, which they graciously shared with us. We talked with Diana over some stellar Boston Crème cake and snapped a few photos of the show*.

Diana, curator of Summer Ashes

Freedom: Tell us a little about yourself:

Diana: I’m going into my 4th year at York and I am doing extended print media installation this year, so I’m working on both two and three-dimensional works.

Do you want to know more?

Freedom: Yeah!

Diana: I grew up on a farm just outside of Bellville. So I lived on a dairy farm my whole life up until I moved to Toronto. Then I lived in North York for two years [for school] and it was very depressing and grey and shitty [North York]. Toronto is a really cool place to live because there is so much art and music and . . . Bellwoods!

Freedom: Do you appreciate the country more now?

Diana: Yes in a totally different way. When you live in the country it’s just always there and you are used to having a giant backyard and fields and animals and things like that. Even the kids in my school were like ‘whoa you live on a farm’ and it was a thing to be made fun of and now people think it’s awesome and it’s a cool thing. But yeah, I totally miss it, even just being able to see stars.

Freedom: What inspired you to turn your apartment into an exhibition space?

Diana: I guess mostly I was thinking it’s almost the end of summer, I haven’t really exhibited anywhere, I haven’t really done too, too much art this summer because I had an accident and I broke my knuckle. I fell off my bike and I couldn’t make anything for half the summer. Then I was just like, how can I show my work? How can we get together and do an exhibition . . . gallery spaces are so expensive. So, I was like, why don’t I just do it in my house? I asked my roommates and they were down so I just got as many people as I could think of from different groups so that not very many people would know each other. Pretty much people would know like 5 people each. I wanted the artists to be able to meet new people because it’s so important to have a really strong arts community but people tend to get stuck in one little group and they don’t often take initiative to meet other people.

Freedom: So you found people from different art communities?

Diana: Yeah. I had a bunch of people from York, some people from the White House in Kensington, some friends that I work with, friends from OCAD, friends who have already graduated from Ryerson, some who still go to Ryerson, people who I just met in random places.

Freedom: Have you done a show before in a gallery space?

Diana: No, never. I have only ever showed twice in group shows. I’ve never curated before. I’ve never arranged an art show. I’ve never really arranged any sort of art event before or any event I guess. It was kind of just a really wild idea.

Freedom: I was wondering about how you came up with the title of the show, Summer Ashes.

Diana: Summer Ashes is kind of like, yeah summer’s done, it’s sad, but also, something new is going to happen, and that something can be really awesome and way cooler than what’s happened. It was a really simple concept.

Freedom: From our experience the opening was a huge success and awesome, how was it for you?

Diana: Well, I was really stressed coming up to it. The whole day before I was really stressed and I had school all day and then got home and had to rush and get everything ready. I felt like, ‘This is crazy I can believe this is happening’, and then it actually started happening and I didn’t even really realize. Then I calmed down a bit and was like, ‘this is ok, people are coming, people seem to be having a pretty good time, they are settling into the space okay and they don’t really seem to be too weirded out’. I was really worried that it was going to be the artists and their two mandatory friends that have to join them, but lot of people came, some that didn’t even know anyone, which was really cool.

Freedom: Do you think you would do another show in this space?

Diana: Yeah! Totally! I guess the only thing that’s holding me back is that I have school and this is my final year so it’s going to be very intense. But I would totally do it again so long as my roommates would be down to do it again. It was pretty stress free in terms of the house, nobody was boisterous or broke anything.

Freedom: Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of doing a D.I.Y. show?

Diana: Do it! Yeah, just do it. Why not? I think a lot of people have ideas to do things but then they get a little scared and start questioning themselves. Make it happen, if you get enough people who want to do it with you, it will be awesome.

Freedom: Any art events that you’ll be attending in the next couple of weeks?

Diana: If you have a chance, Narwhal Art Projects just opened this really cool show called ‘The Dazzle’ and it’s open until October 17th and it’s really incredible, so check that out (

*more photos will be added soon!


Curated by Diana VanderMeulen and Selena L. Lee

SUMMER ASHES featured work by:

Andrew Bailey, Alicia Nauta, Angela Sneider, Alexandra Pettinato, Chloe Norman, Couzyn Van Heuvelen, Derek Aubichon, Diana VanderMeulen, Gabi Charron-Merritt, Gemma Warren, Jackson Parrell, Jonathon Yule, Julia Dickens, Julianna Le, Kayle Donner, Maggie Flynn, Maggie Smith, Marta Chudolinska, Mark Visperas, Marianne Burlew, Megan Mackenzie, Mike Juneau, Nicole Kim, Noelle Wharton Ayer, Norman Wong, Selena L Lee, Ronnie Cote, Xenia Benivolski

Written by Blair and Mal


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