Collective Artist Bios
Support Material Descriptions
Maggie Chang (co-ordinator, performer)
Maggie Chang is a poet, writer and photographer based in Toronto, currently completing her Bachelor of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo. Having loved reading all her life, she started writing fiction when she was twelve, winning her first writing competition in middle school. As a teen she branched out to also write poetry, primarily spoken word. At the same time, wanting to capture the beauty in the world led to an interest in photography. Her work focuses on environmentalism, intersectional feminism, and identity – particularly the joys and sorrows of being Chinese Canadian. She has performed at Stories of Ours and Living Hyphen’s Birthday. Her work has also appeared in The University of Waterloo’s HeForshe Anthology Allies, Cultural Weekly, The Herd Archive, Held Magazine, and is forthcoming in Quarantine Qapsule, The Chinese Canadian Collective’s Covid-19 Publication, and the Faces to the Sun Anthology.
We have selected two of Maggie’s poems in our support materials, an except from SIGNAL, and Revolution.
Nicole Little (co-ordinator, artist)
I am Nicole Little, an Armenian mixed media artist, based in Toronto, Canada.
Rather than curating one signature style, I have followed both my impulses and my ADHD hyper focus to develop a variety of artistic modes.
My work tends to focus on revealing the value of discarded objects and people. Professionally, I work as a creative lead and media specialist, creating content, media kits, video commercials and print advertisements.
I especially enjoy organizing free arts events and learning opportunities within marginalized communities. I believe that everyone can learn to express themselves through the arts, and that arts education is fundamentally important to ensuring the mental health of individuals and communities. Art should not be a luxury. It is a right.
An interactive version of my CV can be found on my website: https://littleneocreative.com/cv/
We have selected two pieces of Nicole’s work to represent her in our support materials. Blind Contour Drawing is a sample advertisement. This is a one hour class that she teaches to emerging artists. The technique and be put into practice very quickly, allowing participants to respond to curated artworks and performances. We have also selected Portrait of Angel Zhang, a piece that represents one of Nicole’s more formal styles.
Hannah Epstein (curator, artist)
Hannah Epstein (AKA hanski) is a textile artist uses the traditional craft of rug hooking to present unexpected, new images and experimentally integrate digital technology. With an artistic practice grounded in independent game design and video art, Epstein’s use of textile remains the central medium where she pulls together a vast array of interests into a cohesive vision where past and future meet. Raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Epstein now holds a BA in Folklore, from Memorial University in and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University.
We first met Hannah as a model but she has blossomed as an inspiring artistic voice. We have asked Hannah to curate and present her own work. Therefore, we have selected an image of Hannah’s work from a solo show, Making Bets in a Burning House, to represent her in our support materials.
Francis Foster (researcher/curator/artist)
What does it mean today to create outside of capitalism? Francis Fauteux tries to imagine a perpendicular universe where commodification and mercantilism are not a drag on the pure joy of art making. After dabbling in diary comics, erotica and children’s literature, Francis has recently hit his stride handing out zines to foster cultural consumption and production as a social practice. He hopes, through his example, to exhort all strata of talent to turn their discrete experience into cultural offerings.
Selected bibliography, all available as free downloads, or thrifty printouts upon request: Seven Years of Midnight Madness (2017) – A love letter to the Midnight Madness program of the Toronto International Film Festival, featuring over seventy write-ups and illustrations. Toronto International Film Festival 2018 (2019) – Thirty idiosyncratic critiques and illustrations produced in the lineups and downtown cafés of TIFF 2018. Someone Brought Cookies (2019) – An etiquette guide for appreciating baked goods gifted within a social gathering. How to be Drawn (2020) – An advice pamphlet for prospective life models.
A PDF of Francis’ 2020 pamphlet has been included in the support materials for this application. Francis and his wife and collaborator Vicky have created a work of inclusivity and intersectionality. With their permission, we present this piece as a representation of the guiding principles of The Collective.
Robert Bentley (performer, artist)
Robert Bentley is a visual Artist working out of Toronto who explores different identities as a way to open up creative pathways and avoid being hemmed in by any style or technique. Believing that nobody has a singular identity, it makes more sense to him to explore the world with different sets of eyes so that different voices can speak of their experiences.
The face we present to a lover is going to be different than what a colleague, stranger, acquaintance, or close friend will see. This doesn’t mean these are masks or that any one of these is more real than the others, they are different variations of a modulating individual. Robert takes this further and has created four other individuals so far (with their own back stories and biographies) along with their own way of viewing the world and expressing it. Their collected work can be seen on their website http://www.bentleyartist.com
This fracturing of the individual has allowed greater freedom when presented with a visual problem. The style will not force the square problem into a round hole, but the problem itself under consideration will bring forth the characteristics and feelings of whatever Artist bubbling underneath wishes to address it.
Robert has studied the human figure since childhood before eventually travelling to England in 1995 where he began exploring the galleries and museums there. In 2002 he was accepted into Chelsea College of Art and Design where he studied briefly before returning to Canada.
He has exhibited work in Canada, Greece, and London England in solo and group shows.
We have selected Robert’s pieces Moving in and Out of Phase and Portrait of Charles Mingus in our support materials. Robert not only creates visual pieces; he also performs them live while discussing his process.
Ren Datura (performer)
Ren fell in love with the world of burlesque and cabaret soon after she moved to Toronto in 2012. She began to perform burlesque professionally as Datura Katsura in 2015 before rebranding as Ren Datura in early 2019.
Ren Datura has been featured in showcases in San Francisco (Hubba Hubba Revue, 2016), Boston (Great Burlesque Exposition, 2017), Montreal (Bagel Burlesque Expo, 2018), and the U.K., as well as throughout Ontario. She has also appeared in music videos for Dilly Dally (Desire – 2015) and That Handsome Devil (Emergency – 2017).
In recent years, she has discovered her passion for teaching and has been running both creative performance intensives and flexibility workshops since 2016.
Ren Datura recently unified her performance, production, and teaching endeavours as Human Geometry Studios. Toi, La Maladie marked its inaugural production.
Ren has been a model for The Collective for the past 6 years. Her performance will combine dance and costumed life modeling. We have selected a still from her dance performance L’OISEAU to represent her work in our support materials.
Adele Steinberg (Artist)
I have always been drawn toward lively colours and dramatic flourishes of expression. My inspiration is derived from landscape, flowers, and their variety of vivid colours and myriad of textures. While on my sabbatical year from teaching I was fortunate to join an art class with an excellent teacher and I have never looked back. It is now 20 years later, and I have studied with many brilliant artists. To me painting is a passion and a never-ending discovery of new skills and individuality of expression. I love to experiment with other mediums such as paper, pouring, water colours, and chalk pastels and oil sticks. I have always returned to abstract expressionism as it allows me the most self expression.
My long-term membership with the Willowdale Group of Artists has had a great influence on my practice. I am also a member of the North York Visual Artists where I show my work. I have been involved with The Collective since the COVID-19 restrictions limited my ability to interact with the arts communities. This has given me an opportunity to continue to connect with artists socially and professionally.
In my practice, I have participated in over 20 art shows including several solo shows with the North York Visual artists and have sold many paintings in both art shows and privately.
I have written three books, including two illustrated children’s stories.
I have also worked as an elementary teacher for many years, specializing in arts education.
We have selected two of Adele’s paintings, Poppy and Three Beauties to represent her work in our support material.
Ally Rom Colthoff (Artist)
I’m a Toronto-based comic artist, illustrator, and 3d modeler in the animation industry. With a background in both fine art and illustration, I’ve created bodies of work in multiple fields; in particular landscape and figure painting, graphic novels, and animation.
Through crowdfunding, I have self-published a five-volume fantasy graphic novel series called Chirault, and have already begun work on a new story. My work has also been published in a number of anthologies, including multiple titles from Toronto-based award-winning publisher TO Comix, and the SpiderForest Collective. I’m very passionate about storytelling and narrative, and the power of comics in particular to communicate ideas in unique ways.
Beginning in summer 2011, I started making paintings of the scenery in and around Big Bald Lake, in the Kawarthas (Ontario, Canada), as seen from a kayak or from sitting on the rocks. This is a practice I have continued to this day; through the paintings, I aim to highlight the natural beauty of these spaces, which are both accessible and remote, and change so rapidly with the seasons or human activity.
We have selected an excerpt from her comic, Varethane, and a painting,Toronto, to represent Ally in our support material.