About the Koffler Gallery Education Program

Koffler Gallery’s education programs help students expand their creativity, develop their visual literacy and sharpen their communication skills. Interactive gallery tours prompt students to analyse the formal aspects and meaning of artworks, enabling them to share their own interpretations while gaining understanding of the intentions of artists. Tours are followed by in-gallery art-making workshops inspired by the works in the exhibition, giving students the opportunity to express their views of the world around them and their personal feelings, experiences and ideas.


Exhibition Tour

A tour of multidisciplinary artist Nevet Yitzhak’s exhibition WarCraft led by the Public Engagement and Education team. Living in Israel as a Jewish artist of Kurdish, Syrian and Yemenite heritage, Nevet Yitzhak’s practice raises questions about cultural heritage, suppressed histories, collective forgetfulness, and identity. The artist looks to the Afghan war rug, a unique product of the region’s traumatic history of conflict and foreign military presence, as a departure point in exploring the significance and potential of this unconventional medium to protest violence and occupation. Expressing her minoritized position within Israeli society and her dissent from its current politics, Yitzhak’s three-channel video installation, WarCraft (2014), looks to the eastern world for kindred forms of expressions. Yitzhak’s digital patterns expose a vastly destructive potential, reminding us of the ubiquity of war imagery and of our numbness to its violence.

The Public Engagement and Education team will also discuss a video work by Afghan-Canadian artist and facilitator Shaista Latif created in response to WarCraft to address questions of cultural appropriation.


Activity 1: Soundscapes
Yitzhak transforms the iconography of Afgan war rugs by introducing 3D models of weaponry from contemporary warzones and activating them through digital animation and sound. Following a tour of Yitzhak’s exhibition, this workshop will explore sound as an artistic medium. In groups, participants will be asked to collectively reimagine the potential of ordinary sounds by using a contact mic and everyday objects. Participants will explore the capacity of sound to create an immersive experience and elicit an emotional response. In the end, the class will be asked to collaboratively compose and record their own soundscape.

Activity 2: Cultural Appropriation vs. Cultural Appreciation
Yitzhak’s three-channel video installation, WarCraft (2014), translates the war rug into a new medium, paying tribute to its original intent while moving from cultural specificity to address other conflicts and articulate a bold indictment of aggression. As a Jewish artist of Kurdish, Yemenite and Syrian heritage, Yitzhak’s work articulates a critical examination of complex geo-political concerns and the fraught relationships between global powers and the Middle East. However, her engagement with Afghani artefacts can be considered as a form of cultural appropriation. In response, Afghan-Canadian artist Shaista Latif’s commissioned two-channel video installation confronts notions of appropriation and challenges the essentialization of Afghan culture by questioning the art world’s relationship to individual authorship and orientalism. In conversation with members of the Afghan community, learning the language of my enemies is a process-based work that continues to evolve throughout the course of the exhibition.

In this workshop, the Public Engagement team will facilitate a nuanced conversation on the nature of identity, cultural appropriation, and artistic license. In groups, participants will be asked to decide what they think is appropriate vs. what is cultural appropriation in a variety of selected scenarios. Participants will then be asked to defend their position and engage in a discussion where they will weigh their judgment against counter arguments from other participants who may think differently.

Activity  3: Protest Posters
In this workshop, participants will be asked to critically consider examples of war propaganda presented in the media. The aim of this workshop will be to teach participants how to dissect information about global politics when confronted with biased or sensationalistic journalism. After a discussion led by the Public Engagement team, participants will be asked to work in groups to create anti-oppression and/or anti-war protest posters.

Ontario Curriculum Links

Elementary Sr. Level: Visual Arts (7-8)

D1.3 Use elements of design in art works to communicate ideas, messages, and understandings for a specific audience and purpose.

 D1.4 Use a variety of materials, tools, techniques, and technologies to determine solutions to increasingly complex design challenges.

 D2.1 Interpret a variety of artworks and identify feelings, issues, themes and social concerns that they convey.

D2.3 Demonstrate an understanding of how to read and interpret signs, symbols, and styles in art works.

D3.1 (Grade 7)  Identify and describe some of the ways in which visual art forms and styles reflect the beliefs and traditions of a variety of cultures and civilizations.

D3.1 (Grade 8) Identify and explain some of the ways in which artistic traditions in a variety of times and places have been maintained, adapted, or appropriated.

D3.2 (Grade 7) Demonstrate an understanding of the function of visual and media arts in various contexts today and in the past, and of their influence on the development of personal and cultural identity.

D3.2 (Grade 8) Identify and analyze some of the social, political, and economic factors that affect the creation of visual and media arts and the visual and media arts community.

High School: Visual Arts and Media Arts (9-12)

A1.1 Use a variety of strategies, individually and/or collaboratively, to generate ideas and to develop plans for the creation of art works (e.g. class/group brainstorming sessions, synthetic charts).

A2.2 Apply elements and principles of design as well as art-making conventions to create art works that communicate ideas, information, or messages, and/or that convey a point of view on an issue.

A3.1 Explore a range of techniques, tools, materials/ media, and technologies, including alternative media and current technologies, and apply them to create and present a variety of art works.

A3.4 Demonstrate an understanding of curatorial considerations, including those relating to the purpose of an audience for an exhibition, and explain the impact of curatorial judgments.

B1.1 Identify and describe their initial reactions to a variety of art works, and explain the reasons for their reactions

B1.3 Communicate their understanding of the meanings of a variety of historical and contemporary art works, based on their interpretation of the works and an investigation of their historical and/or social context.

B2.1 Identify and describe the function of various types of art works (e.g., propaganda art, religious art, satirical works; works that focus on personal narrative or anthropological study) in past and present societies.

B2.2 (Grade 9) Identify ways in which various art works reflect the society in which they were created.

B2.2 (Grade 12) Assess the impact of socio-economic, political, cultural, and/or spiritual factors on the production of art works.

B2.3 Describe how creating and analyzing art works has affected their personal identity and values and/or changed their perception of society.

C3.1 Identify some legal and ethical issues associated with visual arts (e.g., copyright and ownership issues), and demonstrate legal and ethical practices when creating, presenting, and/or promoting art works.

For more information on the Koffler Gallery public programs and tours, please contact:

Patricia Ritacca
Public Engagement Coordinator, Koffler Gallery
647.925.0643 x221

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