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The Staghorn Sumac: Artist Workshop with Cole Swanson and Lynn Short

July 30 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Join artist Cole Swanson and horticulturist Lynn Short (Humber College) for an exploration of the multispecies worlds that enliven nearby Toogood Pond. Complementing Swanson’s exhibition “Among the Drupes (Elegy for a Wasteland)”, this workshop will introduce participants to staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), a generous and native plant species. We will investigate the unique ecology of the Sumac grove flourishing only steps away from the Varley Art Gallery of Markham, and will share the many historical and cultural uses of the plant. An exhibition tour, naturalist walk, and hands-on demonstration will explore how staghorn sumac and its companion species support a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem, and will help build personal human-plant relationships based on curiosity, respect, and kinship.Free, registration required.About the ArtistMultispecies artist and scholar Cole Swanson explores the dynamic and vulnerable life-story of the accidental, urban wilderness. For eight months, Swanson built a close relationship with the last remaining grove of staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) on the West Toronto Rail Path, currently under construction. Through video, material process, and installation art, Swanson honours and cares for the site’s wayward ecology in which native, invasive, and naturalized species survive together amidst the precarity of our times. Engaging with Frederick Varley’s field sketches of sumac, and creating a suite of natural materials from the organic, mineral, and human-made constituents of the site, Swanson demonstrates how art can move us to bear witness, attend to, and form unlikely kinships within our more-than-human communities.


Free Admission.


Varley Art Gallery
216 Main Street Unionville
Markham, Ontario L3R 2H1 Canada
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