MBA/MFA/MA Graduate Alyssa Fearon curates “No Vacancy”
Alyssa Fearon, who is Marketing Coordinator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and a graduate of the Schulich/York combined MBA/MA Art History (’14), has been instrumental in the development of the Young Creatives Program (YCP), a community-led initiative that cultivates the emerging contemporary art practices of racialized young artists living in Scarborough.
Describing Kingston Road, the focus of the exhibition and formerly “Canada’s Gateway to Toronto,” Fearon observes: “Anyone travelling across the country would take Kingston Rd., and hotels there would be that place to stop and take a rest.” With the advent of car culture in the postwar years, the original hotels were replaced by motels.
The completion of the 401 in the late 1950s led to dramatic changes in the patterns of travel into and through Toronto. From the 1980s on, the motels have primarily been used for “those seeking refuge in this country, and those who are homeless or underhoused. … and [for another] common unofficial use. Sex workers use those rooms for their work.”
Exploring and thinking through this history raised “broader questions about migration and displacement,” for Fearon—questions about how to re-imagine these neglected areas to better serve those who use them.
She describes the exhibition as “an incredible opportunity to share the narratives and histories of a community that has been so influential to me and to many others; to collaborate with incredible artists, including Sandra Brewster, Nadijah Robinson and Curtia Wright; and to connect with curators, educators, policy makers and journalists from all over the city.”
“When you dig deep, you start to understand the implications of these buildings to the community and the city.”
Quoted excerpts from the Toronto Star, the Torontoist, CBC and Inside Toronto.