The Varley Art Gallery is launching a new initiative that supports one of their key objectives: promoting emerging local and regional artists.

Varley curator Anik Glaude is collaborating with York University to organize exhibitions of work by second-year MFA and PhD students enrolled in the visual arts graduate program. The first, curated by Charlotte Gagnier and entitled Next I Wave runs from Jan. 12 until Feb.1.

Visual arts programs at York University, at the masters or doctorate level, encourage students to develop their artistic practice independently within a critical and theoretical environment. York’s studio setting inspires artists to experiment, to expand their knowledge of contemporary trends within their field and to develop their own artistic voices. Most importantly, it allows them to situate their practice not just within the wider artistic community, but within society as a whole.

Next I Wave is anticipated to be the first in a series of annual exhibitions between the Varley in partnership with the York University visual arts department. The exhibit will allow the students not just to show their work in a professional setting, but to broaden their exposure within the artistic community of York Region and to engage with visitors of all ages.

The initiative strengthens the Varley Art Gallery’s position as a site for mentorship and as a forum for new ideas and experimentation. Further, the show will also support the work of graduate students at York’s curatorial studies program as they will assist in writing the labels and didactic materials that accompany the installation.

The Next I Wave exhibition opening takes place Jan. 12, from 1-3 p.m. It is free and all members of the public are invited to attend. The opening event also includes a panel discussion focusing on how art can be used as a vehicle for change and understanding. It will bring together York University graduate students from different art disciplines for a lively discussion that reflects on how they use their practice to address difficult issues.

The event is free, but registration is required. Register at

Image: York University sculpture studio. Charlotte Gagnier photo

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