Laurier showcases impactful art exhibit at Nuit Blanche

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Contributed image

On Oct. 5, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Toronto office participated in the Nuit Blanche festival for the third year in a row.

Nuit Blanche is a festival of the arts which takes place annually in downtown Toronto, as well as other neighbourhoods in the city. Artists create unique and interactive installations across the city which coincide with the festivals theme, with this year’s being “Continuum.”

“It was so wonderful, Nuit Blanche is such an incredible festival,” said Carolyn Hawthorn, manager of advancement and external relations at Laurier Toronto. “It seems as though you see everyone in Toronto. Everyone comes out to support, you have families, you have young people, every demographic seems to be represented and as a result it’s such an exciting festival.”

This year, Laurier hosted an interactive art exhibit curated by Iranian-Canadian artist Zahra Saleki who is based in Toronto. The installation was titled Call My Name, and was dedicated to the many children who have lost their lives and legacies to war in the Middle East, inspiring viewers to contemplate the calamitous impacts of war.

“The artist has the most work involved of course,” said Hawthorn. “They’re responsible for ensuring that their installation comes to life. We work very hard to support our artist to make sure that she is feeling supported.”

The Call My Name display consisted of photographs of children, representing those who have lost their lives to war, and a large illuminated globe in the centre of the exhibit. Viewers were able to interact with the installation by writing names and stories for these children on lanterns surrounding the globe.

People were very engaged and spent a lot of time thinking about what those stories could have been and what the names of those children could have been. I do think that people were very moved by the installation and there was a lot of conversation as a result of it.

— Carolyn Hawthorn, manager of advancement and external relations at Laurier Toronto

“There was a large globe and individuals were able to write messages and the stories of the children that didn’t get to live those stories,” said Hawthorn. “They were creating the futures that they could have had.

“People were very engaged and spent a lot of time thinking about what those stories could have been and what the names of those children could have been. I do think that people were very moved by the installation and there was a lot of conversation as a result of it.”

Prior to Nuit Blanche, Laurier Toronto hosted a private sneak-peek event on Oct. 3 where people could enjoy food and drink while going through the installation prior to the festival debut. Laurier faculty members Kim Rygiel, Bree Akesson and Alison Mountz attended to provide insight on the installation.

On the night of the Nuit Blanche festival, the Laurier Toronto Office was transformed once again into an artistic space, this time open to all festival attendees, including some Laurier alumni. The event turnout was everything they had hoped for. 

“[Approximately] 5000 people were able to come through or experience the space, which is absolutely incredible,” Hawthorn said. “Our artist Zahra was thrilled as well.”

Call My Name was a thought provoking, heart rendering installation that used striking visual images to remind us of the tragedy of war and the plight of refugee children. The event was artistically executed, and the editorial conversation provided an opportunity for a greater understanding of how we can create solutions to the serious issues of migration and the plight of children,” Said Sybil Allen, Laurier Alumna. “A fruitful engagement, bravo for highlighting such an important social issue.”

Leave a Reply