By: Suzie Balabuch

Photo by Bodi Bold

Photo by Bodi Bold

Bodi Bold

Though it is a small population in comparison to other academic communities, visual arts talent abounds at the University of Toronto. The opportunity to see the artistic output of U of T’s best young artists is sometimes hindered by the ambiguous themes of many student art shows.

Nobody knows this better than Trinity College Art Show curators Elisa Pelaia and Shannon Garden-Smith. “We would put a call out, students would respond by giving us submissions, and while we liked the work, we found that there was like no cohesion between any of the pieces. It was just like a general show with works done by students. Even if we tried to put a theme on the show, we found that no one could really follow it, because it’s all work that’s already created.”

At this year’s Trinity College Art Show, If These Walls, Pelaia and Garden Smith are looking to shake things up. Having already worked together on the previous two years’ shows, Pelaia and Garden-Smith decided to completely change their focus. Instead of agonizing about what collective theme they could come up with in order to bring some order to the collection, they decided to complement the historic site wherein the show takes place every year.

Pelaia says, “Every year the Trinity College Art Show is housed in Seeley Hall….We knew were were going to have the hall for this year’s show, and we were just thinking, ‘What is something that we can like really take it out the box and do something different?”

Traditionally, U of T’s Trinity College is known for its ties to International Relations and Political Science, as well as for its stunning architecture. Pelaia and Garden-Smith chose to address both.

“Since Trinity is this really old building, and this really large institution with old traditions, we wanted to do something that’s just the polar opposite of that. We wanted a juxtaposition between what Trinity is and what it’s known for, and the art that’s going to be displayed, and basically how art can be used to modernize an older institution.”

Although Pelaia acknowledges that the sheer number of submissions is less than in past years, the overall strength of the “site-specific installations” will not disappoint. “Instead of the artists giving us the work, and us doing something with it, the artists are very much playing a role in how they want their work to be. It’s a much more collaborative experience over all.”

All in all, Pelaia wants If These Walls to be a connecting experience. “This year, we want people to pay attention to the relationship between the art and the hall, and we really want the audience to interact with the space as well as with the installations.”

If These Walls is running from March 10-12 at Trinity College’s Seeley Hall. The opening reception on Thursday, March 10th runs from 7-10 pm. For more information, visit

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