Maya Wilson-Sanchez is an independent curator, writer, and editor based in Toronto. She is interested in processes of history-making and building connections between local and international communities to foster networks of exchange and solidarity. Her essays, reviews, and exhibition texts can be found in various publications including The Senses and Society Journal, Canadian Art, Contemporary HUM, and the book Other Places: Reflections on Media Arts in Canada (PUBLIC Books, 2019).
Wilson-Sanchez holds degrees in art history from the University of Toronto (MA) and OCAD University (BA) and has worked in collections, research, programming, and curatorial research roles at Gallery TPW, the Royal Ontario Museum, Onsite Gallery, OCAD University, MKG127, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. She curated Intra-Action: Live Performance Art (2016, 2017) at Xpace Cultural Centre, Living Room (2017) at the Royal Ontario Museum, DIY Love: Queer Knowledge & History Then, Now, and Forever (2017) at Pride Toronto, and Grounding (2020) at the Art Gallery of Guelph. In 2019, she was an Editorial Resident at Canadian Art and a Curatorial Resident at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, where she contributed to exhibitions highlighting the work of Deanna Bowen and the Isuma film collective. She has shared her research through talks, public tours, and guest lectures held in multiple venues across Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The 2020 recipient of the Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators, Wilson-Sanchez will be a 2021 participant at the Tate Intensive in London, UK. She is currently teaching at OCAD University curating a year-long public arts program and exhibition for the City of Toronto’s Year of Public Art.
Areas of Expertise (11)
Visual and Critical Studies
Latin American Art
The Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators
OCAD University Alumni Award
Jean Sutherland Boggs Fellowship
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s Canada Graduate Scholarships – Masters
Sir Edmund Walker Award for Graduate Studies
Visual and Critical Studies Graduation Award
Diversity & Equity Excellence Award
Ada Slaight Scholarship
University of Toronto: M.A., Art History 2019
OCAD University: B.A. (Hons.), Visual and Critical Studies 2018
- Royal Ontario Museum
- OCAD University
- University of Toronto
- Art Gallery of Ontario
- C Magazine
- City of Toronto
- Art Gallery of Guelph
- Art Museum at the University of Toronto
- Tate Modern
- Canadian Art Magazine
Media Appearances (3)
Murals on bridges, poems on library walls, exhibits at the mall: 2021 will be the Year of Public Art in Toronto
Next year, 2021, is Toronto’s official Year of Public Art, a four-season celebration intended to beautify the city, engage all 25 wards with artistic activations, and kick off a decade-long transformation that will give public art and artists the recognition they deserve for their role in making the place we call home more livable, enticing and vibrant.
Maya Wilson-Sanchez Awarded Fall Canadian Art Editorial Residency
Canadian Art is pleased to announce that Maya Wilson-Sanchez has been awarded our Fall 2019 Editorial Mentorship, an 11-week, full-time position intended to develop aspiring writers’ expertise in art-magazine publishing...
Maya Wilson-Sanchez Wins Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators
The exhibition project Wilson-Sanchez has proposed, titled “Grounding,” engages the resource-based economies that connect Canada and South America. It includes works by artists Tsēmā Igharas of Tahltan First Nation, Ximena Garrido-Lecca of Peru and Dana Prieto of Argentina, as well as Métis artist and academic Warren Cariou. It will run at the Art Gallery of Guelph from September 17 to December 13, 2020.
Ways of Knowing Land: Métis and Anishinaabe Land Knowledge in the Work of Christi Belcourt and Bonnie Devine
Worlding the Global: Arts in the Age of Decolonization National Gallery of Canada and Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, 2019
Encuentro: The World Inside Out
Performing Cuir Histories and Curating Andean Musealities Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics and UNAM, Mexico City, 2019
The Album as Archive: Margaret Corry’s souvenir photographs through the lens of Canadian citizenship (1946-63)
With Gabrielle Moser, College Art Association Annual Conference New York City, 2019
Performing History in the Andes: Performance Art and Decolonial Methods
Decolonizing Conference Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, 2018
Non-Human Kinship in Contemporary Canadian Art
Unsettling the Americas: Radical Hospitalities and Intimate Geographies Hemispheric Institute NYU & York University, Toronto, ON, 2017
Curatorial Projects and Exhibitions (5)
Curator, Art Gallery of Guelph, 2020 Grounding includes artwork made from the ground – work that uses as its material basis the same valuable natural resources that drive world economies. Taking a hemispheric approach, Grounding presents nuanced practices of art-making that respond to extractive industries in the Americas, and more specifically within Canada, Peru, and Argentina. Challenging the assumptions implicit in this economic model, the artists suggest a re-appropriation of natural resources to envision futures beyond those based on capital accumulation, environmental destruction, and colonial value systems.
God of Gods: A Canadian Play
Curatorial Resident, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Toronto, ON 2019
The Living Room
Co-Curator, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON 2017 Housed within the Family Camera exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Living Room is an exhibition that depicts how history, culture, and politics are present in our homes and in our photographs. By showcasing the collaborative work of designers, documentary-makers, and artists, it shows how through stories and images we create new histories that help shape our society. The installation explores the power of storytelling through sharing family photographs. This intimate setting portrays how photographs may be kept, shared, and displayed. It uses projection-mapping technology to create a multi-sensory narrative that explores how personal remembrance can contribute to collective memory.
DIY LOVE: Queer Knowledge & History Then, Now, and Forever
Curator, Pride Toronto, Toronto, ON 2017 This participatory artwork was a project for Pride Toronto that created a collective installation of queer discourse and history. Mobile walls were presented in the middle of Church Street where community members were invited to contribute to a collage-like mural. Defaced by markers and messages, it connotes the typical nightclub bathroom walls that were often the most direct portal to affection and an understanding audience during LGBTQ2 youth. Blank paper, markers, and paint were provided in addition to posters that were commissioned from five LGBTQ2 artists and writers that referenced important historical icons or moments of queer history in Toronto. Other LGBTQ2 artists based in Toronto also donated existing print-based work. While onsite, the curator and artists were present to teach participants how to make wheat paste and use the posters and artwork on hand (or create drawings themselves) to include in the creation of two murals. Participants were also free to take away the posters and invited to wheatpaste them in other places within the city. High-quality digital versions of the posters are also available online for free so that they may be shared on social media or printed out and wheat-pasted elsewhere. Pride Toronto has become an increasingly commercial space, therefore this free and interactive art project was a way to provide a non-transactional experience at Pride that was centered on community-building and remembering the radical history of Pride. One of the collective murals currently hangs at OCAD University.
Intra-Action II: Live Performance Art
Curator, Xpace Cultural Centre, Toronto, ON 2017 An exhibition of live performance art by artists based in Toronto, Montreal, and New York City. Supported by funding from the Toronto Arts Council, this performance event welcomed the public to come together to form a critical and inclusive space for the development and demonstration of performance art. The 2017 exhibition included themes of surveillance, performing femininity, current economic realities in Toronto, and the contemporary art community in Montreal, among others.
- Workshop Leader
A Centenary of InfluenceCanadian Art
Maya Wilson-Sanchez and Deanna Bowen
To mark the 100th anniversary of Hart House, the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, commissioned Deanna Bowen to produce a new body of research. Her exhibition branched out to explore the social networks that heavily influenced the formation of Canadian culture in the early 20th century. Bowen visualizes those involved in this formation by examining their books, plays, letters, exhibitions and music, as well as their political appointments and the institutions they founded, including Hart House, the Arts and Letters Club and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Bowen’s work highlights the nature of this emerging Canadian identity as one shaped by nationalist, white and settler ideals and, more specifically, maps how colonial ideas about Indigenous cultures and cultural production were mobilized to create a national aesthetic that persists to this day.
Hemispheric ThinkingCanadian Art
2019 Why do Canadians have difficulty envisioning themselves and their work hemispherically? At a recent gathering in Mexico City, I was able to examine collaborations and exchanges among artists and scholars based in Canada and those from across the Americas. Every two years in a different city, the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics (Hemi), a 21-year-old institution founded by performance studies scholar Diana Taylor, brings together artists, activists and scholars at Encuentro, a popular gathering that is part performance festival and part academic research workgroups. Headquartered at New York University, Hemi is an important centre for political performance art, theatre and cabaret in the Americas. Today, it has dozens of collaborating human rights and social justice organizations and 60 member institutions, including OCAD University, the University of Manitoba and the University of Toronto, among others. This year, Hemi hosted its 11th Encuentro in Mexico City, with most of the panels, workgroups, exhibitions, keynotes and performances presented at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and in the historic city centre. It included performances by local and international artists, theatre pieces and cabarets, as well as keynotes by Judith Butler, Richard Schechner and Jesusa Rodríguez.
“Àbadakone” Creates CommunityCanadian Art
2019 The opening of “Àbadakone/Continuous Fire/Feu continuel” was electric. More than 3,000 people came to the National Gallery of Canada that evening—the largest attendance since the gallery’s opening in 1988. There were lines to get into the building, as well as lines to get into “Àbadakone.” The exhibition opened after performances of throat singing, drumming, hoop dancing and jingle dress dancing, as well as Métis jigging, which the crowd clapped along to. This was followed by a procession of the artists featured in the exhibition, coming from the lobby and culminating in the Great Hall, with Canada-based artists leading the way while drumming and singing. Each artist was announced as they entered the space, marking a momentous arrival, and making it clear that on this night, the National Gallery belonged to Indigenous peoples and Indigenous art.
Blackface, Brownface and Redface in the Arts: A BibliographyCanadian Art
2019 I spent the spring and summer months of this year developing the exhibition “God of Gods: A Canadian Play” with Toronto-based artist Deanna Bowen, currently on view at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto. This process included expansive archival research into representations and discussions of race in fine arts, music and theatre in Canada. The exhibition showcases books, plays, musical performances and paintings in which redface, blackface and brownface are prevalent. The scope of the exhibition, which looks at the early decades of 20th-century Toronto, highlights, among other things, that brownface, redface and blackface were part of the performance repertoire of elite social circles at the time. Presented as groups of archival objects, “God of Gods” brings attention to how racism and exclusion functioned within the social circles of influential Canadian figures.
The Politics of SensingCanadian Art
2019 Our experience of reality is mediated by our senses, thus creating a worldview that is contained within the restrictions of human perception. “Logics of Sense” is a two-part exhibition presented at the Blackwood Gallery that curator Christine Shaw describes as “examin[ing] sense-in-the-making.” Showcasing mostly video work, the exhibition asks visitors to reflect on the manner in which they collect information about the world, whether it is directly through the senses, or through technology that allows us to experience phenomena beyond that of human realms. The video works are projected onto large rectangular structures that break up the gallery space, like a labyrinth organized into intimate viewing spaces. With an interest in the representation of sensing, the works highlight diverse perceptions, frames of reference, networks and disciplines to present interpretations about the relationships we have with each other and nonhumans.
Newcomers Discuss Creative-Industry Barriers in CanadaCanadian Art
2019 More than 120 people, including newcomer artists, creative workers and arts-organization staff, gathered in Toronto last month to discuss a pressing issue: barriers newcomers face in finding work within Canada’s culture sector.