With surveillance, harassment, and issues of inequality online seemingly ever on the rise, The eQuality Project sought to develop a platform that would allow young people to respond. In 2018, eQuality launched its first Art Exchange Workshop in Toronto in partnership with St. Stephen’s Community House.

The Art Exchange workshop was designed to create a space where young artists could develop art-based responses to (in)equality issues in the networked environment, using art as a form of resistance. Participants were presented with a series of Imagination Primers that highlighted the ways youth artists have used online media to resist online harassment, surveillance, and racism, and then planned and executed art projects to promote a more just online environment.

The workshop was led by eQuality’s Valerie Steeves and Jane Bailey, with support from Chloe Georas (from the University of Puerto Rico Law School (UPR) and Andy Villanueva (an award-winning filmmaker and member of eQuality’s Youth Advisory Committee).

Georas initiated two additional art-based interactions in Puerto Rico: one in her UPR class and another through a general call to the community, in which participants were mentored by two art professors. These interactions culminated in a second workshop convened by Steeves, Bailey, Georas and Villanueva in San Juan, Puerto Rico in April, 2018 and, ultimately in an art exhibition in San Juan’s Diagonal art gallery in May 2018.

The eQuality Project has since hosted another workshop in partnership with the Centre for Immigrant Community Services (CICS) in Markham, and returned to San Juan, Puerto Rico in order to run a train-the-trainer session with teachers so that they can facilitate their own workshops. In addition, The eQuality Project partnered with the Ottawa Art Gallery in 2022, and facilitated a workshop with the OAG’s Youth Council, which resulted in the Transcending Technology: Between Freedom and Surveillance exhibition, which ran from September 16th to December 19th, 2022.

A total of forty-seven young artists have produced a broad range of visual, performance, and experiential artistic responses that reflected (in)equality issues important to them. Their work is highlighted in the videos on this page.

To help support community groups, teachers and others interested in hosting a similar event, we worked with eQ partner MediaSmarts and created a facilitator’s guide and lesson plan.

Interested in running your own Art Exchange workshop? Please follow the link here.