“A Day in the Life” with Toronto artist Syrus Marcus Ware

Syrus Marcus Ware is an identical twin and a committed and dedicated artist and activist who has been creating and fighting the good fight for over 25 years. He is an active member of BLMTO, Blackness Yes/ Blockorama and is also a visual artist and PhD student at York University. His work has shown widely across the country. Syrus has been recognized for his work, including receiving the Steinert and Ferraro Award in 2012 and the TD Diversity Award in 2017.

Syrus Marcus Ware
Pennants hung with love by artists Justseeds (Mary Tremonte and Jesse Purcell) for TSG: Say My Name, and annual exhibition I curate at the Gladstone Hotel every year. Opening June 21, this show explores queer and trans experiences and their intersections with experiences of gender, race, class, ability etc. Its an honour to curate this show each year, and to help bring forward a much needed conversation about the experiences of those most marginalized within our communities, and to celebrate stories of resistance and survival.
When the lights go out….: The first day of our tech run at the theatre, the power went out! We continued our rehearsals on the lawn outside. It was the most beautiful summer night, back-lit by the CN tower. It felt like peak Toronto and peak summer at the same time. #artsmagic
Syrus Marcus Ware
Coffee: This level of multi tasking requires a steady stream of caffeine. Good grief!
Drawing Otto Vass- I remember when news of his killing spread through our lil community of activists, it was the day before Prisoners Justice Day, which we organized at the Don Jail each year. Drawing him now, in 2018, feels surreal, and a bit like time travel.
Syrus Marcus Ware
I Love Blocko hanky circa 2006. Blockorama is the longest running and largest stage at Pride and celebrated black queer and trans communities. This year marks its 20th year! Ive been working with the committee since 2004.
Syrus Marcus Ware
Drawing Sammy Yatim. : Its been an intense process to draw people killed by the police through my work with Out the Window. I feel the loss of their life as I draw their humanity and personhood. It really is emotional work. I just want to be sure to do them justice, too, so the stakes feel very high.
Even after a long day you can have time for a selfie. Sometimes its good to not take yourself too seriously!
Syrus Marcus Ware
Buying fabric for Blockorama: I love creating textile artworks for Blocko each year ( See # 8). Theres a great place on queen that I go to every year- they are genuinely as excited to see what we come up with each year as we are. Its really sweet.

 

What ‘hood are you in?

I live in the Casa Loma area. I love all the green spaces. And that we have a queer black MP, Jill Andrews! So exciting 🙂

What do you do?

I am a visual artist, curator, scholar, activist and parent to a 6 year old. I work in super large scale- drawing portraits of activists or doing durational performances about madness and disability. As a curator I work each year on TSG- an LGBTQ themed art show at the Gladstone Hotel. This year’s show TSG: Say My Name opens June 21st at the Gladstone! As an activist, Im very involved in black queer and trans activism through Blackness Yes/Blockorama (celebrating its 20th year at Pride this year!) and as a core team member of Black Lives Matter- Toronto. As a parent, I spend endless hours drawing, baking cookies and gardening with my little!

What are you currently working on?

Im an avid multi-tasker! Im currently working on a large-scale theatre piece for Luminato, in collaboration with The Theatre Centre called Out the Window, a play by Liza Balkan. In the show I’ll be drawing some giant portraits and performing. The play runs June 19-24, 2018 at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre and you can get tickets at www.luminato.com.

Im also curating TSG: Say My Name at the Gladstone (June 21-August 6, 2018) and co-curating Blockorama (June 24, 2018) at the Wellesley Stage at the Toronto Pride Festival.

Im working with Kim Ninkuru and Jane Doe on co-curating a Toronto Stop for the Sexual Assault Roadshow with Sketch Working People in the Arts at Artscape Youngplace (June 12-18, 2018).

And, I’m trying to get some heritage “jewel corn” to grow in my garden Here’s hoping!

Where can we find your work?

Some of my drawings are currently on display at the Roundhouse in Vancouver as part of the Queer Arts Festival 2018. You can find the rest of my work online at www.syrusmarcusware.com

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Out the Window. On stage at Harbourfront Centre Theatre June 19 – 24, as part of Luminato 2018 – tickets starting at $39 available at luminato.com

 

 

Joel Levy
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Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography