Art and Tomatoes by Tzazná, Queso and Rathika is now on display at The Public Window Gallery in Toronto and is not to be missed. Presented in conjunction with the Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts, this visual exhibition and public installation highlights and reflects on the Harvesting Freedom caravan.
- Opening Reception & Festival Party: May 1, 7 pm – 10 pm, Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St (register here)
- April 8 – May 30, The Public Window Gallery, 58 Lansdowne Ave
- April 24 – May 19, Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St
- May 1 – 28, Whippersnapper Gallery, 594b Dundas St W
- Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1933331696890529/
By Tzazná + Queso
2016 was the 50th year of the migrant farmworker program. 50 years of workplace abuse, accidents, deaths, and of black and brown people putting food on our tables yet actively being excluded from our communities. It also marks 50 years of farmworker survival and resistance in the face of repressive immigration, labour and housing laws. The Harvesting Freedom Caravan (HFC) was launched by Justice For Migrant Workers (J4MW) to mark this anniversary and call for permanent residence for farmworkers and all migrant workers in this stolen land we call Canada. J4MW is a political collective made up of mostly migrante women and people of colour who are farmworkers, unpaid organizers and allies. This exhibit is a way of giving back to the workers and community members who supported the HFC and continue to fight for fair working and living conditions.
Tomatoes have a long relationship with the farmworker movement. It was a wildcat strike of tomato pickers 16 years ago in Leamington, Ontario – the “Tomato Capital of Canada” – that gave rise to this movement (as memorialized in J4MW’s logo). The visual identity of the HFC was based on images taken in Leamington by farmworker organizers. Campaign materials evoke the fields sowed with tomatoes, vegetables, and tobacco, and the raised fists of workers who toil and resist. Hundreds of red bandanas were used by farmworkers to protect against reprisals and deportations. The oversized vegetables and giant red fabric tomato disrupted daily life as the caravan crossed Ontario. Additionally there are pieces of new original artwork by community artists that were involved in the campaign.
The campaign brought up very important issues around work, racism and immigration; however the fight against sexism and homophobia within the movement was invisible, with some organizers feeling that they had to hide their gender/sexual identity. Like many movements, this one struggles with how to include those issues in the continuous work. In that context, building this project from the young, female/gender nonconforming, queer perspective of the curators is itself an act of resistance and of taking up space.