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Art - Environment - Life - Everything

with the artist collective Distance Between Us as DAG guest co-curators

July 8th to September 3rd, 2023


Studio Projects' most recent community-curatorial project Art - Environment - Life - Everything explores the intersecting points of artistic practice through the lens of environmental and collective survival. Together, Artist-Curators distance between us, Tara & Clayton Windatt and Emilio & Elyse Portal function as a multi-arts collective. Works will include media, performance, installation and audience participation. 

Bring hope and ideas. All are welcome.

Part of The Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film. CLICK HERE to learn more about this year's festival lineup!

Artist/Curator Statement 

Artists work across boundaries when challenging the status quo. Boundaries of social discourse, relationships, geologies and the subtle expectations of conformity by peers. Making statements about the turbulence and dangers of our current existence is the responsibility of every generation as an act of preservation and survival. This responsibility is a challenge that is manifest through artistic intention, process, material, form and outcome. How does and how can the art work vitally influence individual and societal behaviours?


The planet, environment, nature, Earth (and its many other contentious names and concepts) struggles as the result of collective human actions. As artists, we attempt to take responsibility by considering actions that are sustainable, not to us, but to ecological integrity. We pause and reflect upon our processes and place limits on our human involvement. This form of art-making considers boundaries in conformity as our process delves deep into building supportive community structures and relational exchanges with humans and non-humans, more than with genre-based techniques or following existing pathways of creativity set forth by previous curators or arts movements. 


Our collective arts process considers life and land, choosing not to follow or adhere to those that have extracted and commodified all so-called resources. We deeply contemplate our own feelings, actions and interactions in an effort to decentralize our human perspective and prop up non-human entities, subjectivities, agencies, which demonstrates our innate relatedness with the broader natural world.  Conceptual or real independence and individualism only exists due to our biological interconnectedness that developed over millions of years. Art is a uniquely human process that exists in our daily lives, but we should not lose sight that we are only uniquely human because of our evolutionary, ecological entanglement here on Earth. Art exists because that’s what the Earth wanted.   


Will we survive? Will art survive? Can we exist in a more respectful and balanced manner with all living entities? Perhaps, it is our small, simple and humble intentions, choices and focus that will profoundly inspire and support, or dramatically impact future generations.  

The distance between us is experimenting with how we, as artists, can find a “new normal” within real and digital environments. The distance between us collectively brings together two households: the Windatts (Tara & Clayton Windatt) in Sturgeon Falls and ee portal (Elyse & Emilio Portal) in Sudbury. Working across two separate Northern Ontario locations, our ad hoc group mediates emotional and physical isolation through creatively reaching out to each other. We are digging out unrealized digital archives and documenting new intimacies with our home locations. We are humans living in a climate disaster reality and need creative exchanges. Exchanges between people and other-than-humans provides a sense of community, which is key to our well-being.

Elyse Portal is a settler and pigment forager of Ukrainian heritage. In How Far Back is Home at the Durham Art Gallery, Elyse has created a site-specific installation dedicated to the Dnipro River in Ukraine to acknowledge the massive impacts of the war on the waterway (including increased vulnerabilities to nuclear contamination). The textiles contemplate an ancient healing practice called wax pouring. Elyse's baba's father's mother was a wax pourer that had learned her healing craft with water and wax in Ukraine, before migrating to Canada. Next to the textiles are a series of prints. Featured in these works are objects that an aunt had gathered in the Ukraine before the war, which Elyse placed at the Castle Mountain Internment Camp Monument near Banff, AB, where Ukrainians had lost their identities during WWI internment camps. The prints include foraged pigments and are available as a fundraiser to counter cultural erasure in Canada and Ukraine. 50% of all funds raised go toward Indigenous led projects in Canada, and special needs children at the Dzherelo Children’s Rehabilitation Centre in Ukraine. Research and creation aspects of this project have been supported by the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. Please see Elyse's website for details:

Emilio Portal is an experimental sound artist, percussionist, producer and sound engineer. His musical practice revolves around the merging of the analog and digital, the rhythmic and chaotic, the composed and improvised, which is all an expression of their mixed identity, and an embracing of vulnerability and precarity. He is a member of the art collectives ee portal and distance between us. His latest album eau bénite will be released in the summer of 2023.

Clayton Windatt is a curator, multi-arts performer and filmmaker living and working in Ontario. Clayton has an extensive history working in Artist-Run Culture and Community Arts. Clayton is a writer and knowledge broker negotiating between peoples, places and communities. Clayton works in/with community, design, communications, curation, performance, theater, technology, and is a very active artist.


Tara Windatt is an artist and arts administrator of settler and Indigenous ancestry from Northern Ontario. Her practice includes installation, performance, poetry, media arts, visual arts, photography, and craft. With over a decade of experience in the not-for-profit arts sector, Windatt currently holds administrative positions with both the ON THE EDGE Fringe Festival and Aanmitaagzi Story Makers.

"How Far Back is Home" on view at the gallery and on the Elyse's website.

Elyse Portal How Far Back is Home is a limited edition print series and Fundraiser. 50% of sales will go to support the following organizations:

Myths and Mirrors Community Arts   
Manidoo Bineshii Dreams 
Dzherelo Children’s Rehabilitation Centre in Ukraine

The artist hopes that you consider supporting special needs kids in

the Ukraine and Indigenous-led projects in Canada with this fundraiser.

Scan the QR code for more information

Rail Cloth (How Far Back is Home) 
/100 Limited Edition prints, $100 each

Winok with Green (How Far Back is Home)

/100 Limited Edition prints $100 each

Special Thanks to our new sponsors Macleans Ales Inc. for making our opening reception extra delicious!

We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario

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