In October, an artist-run studio and gallery space dedicated to supporting BIPOC artists will open in Artspace (100 Arthur St.). This new initiative, called Studio 622, aims to create a safe and welcoming community for artists who are currently underrepresented.
Chroma Collective, a local BIPOC art collective, is co-ordinating a fundraiser for the studio in collaboration with CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens) Manitoba, an organization that advocates for visual artists and provides studio space within Artspace.
Alison Davis, treasurer of CARFAC Manitoba, shares that “Studio 622 had been used as an individual artist studio up until recently. We knew the space would be vacant shortly, and one of the members said it would be really great if that space could be used by BIPOC artists.”
That initial suggestion of dedicating the newly vacant studio to BIPOC art and artists quickly took shape.
“We were approached by Divya Mehra, who is a CARFAC Manitoba member and has her own studio space and art space,” Davis says. “Following that, we talked about it at the board level, and we approached Chroma Collective.”
CARFAC collaborated with Chroma Collective to organize, plan and prepare the studio, because they wanted it to be an artist-centred space. Davis says CARFAC hopes to create a welcoming and supportive environment for BIPOC artists, and that “having a space that is self-defined is a main goal.” The artists of Chroma Collective are still finalizing the plans for the studio, a 1,000-square-foot space.
The size of the space allows it to continue being used as a studio, while also serving as a gallery that features BIPOC art. Local artists are very happy about the project, and Chloe Chafe, co-founder of Synonym Art Consultation, says that the artists of Synonym “are very excited about the new space.” Their excitement is understandable, given the need for more BIPOC galleries in Winnipeg and in Canada, and for more artists to have their stories and cultures shared.
Studio 622 is also hiring an administrative assistant and plans to ensure that, in addition to the artists, the employees are also BIPOC. As Davis notes, the art community that is already established sometimes faces “challenges inviting BIPOC artists in” and are not always welcoming. Having the studio be a BIPOC artist-run space will likely be the key to its success. As Annie Beach, one of the artists from Chroma Collective, said in an interview with The Manitoban, “as a whole, BIPOC art is underexposed and underrepresented.”
Studio 622 will be an important space for BIPOC artists in Winnipeg, and Davis says their hope is that the studio will be “whatever the artists want it to be.”
One of their goals is to create a welcoming and supportive community for artists from marginalized and underrepresented communities. The gallery’s home in Artspace, a well-established part of Winnipeg’s creative community, will contribute to that.
The organizers are raising funds for rental and renovation costs, furniture, equipment and programming, with the goal of raising $15,000 and opening the space on Oct. 1.
To find out more about Studio 622 and to contribute to the fundraiser, visit CARFAC MB at carfacmb.ca/studio-622/.
Published in Volume 75, Number 02 of The Uniter (September 17, 2020)