catalyst: activating alliances across the gender & sexual orientation spectrums

Monday, October 17, 2011 – Friday, January 13, 2012

Around the world, and for thousands of years, thriving cultures have recognized, celebrated and integrated more than two genders, sexes and orientations. Modern, English terms like transgender and gay can be limiting concepts, implying that there are: 1. Only two sexes (male/female) 2. Only two sexualities (gay/straight) 3. Only two genders (masculine/feminine).

Yet hundreds of cultures around the globe have their own long-established traditions for third, fourth, fifth or more genders, just for starters. Come explore this gorgeous, new / old galaxy of infinite possibility! Playing with string theory, creation myths, ancestry and shape-shifters, Catalyst introduces people to new dimensions in our understanding of genders and orientations.

In the Catalyst exhibition, artists Erika Iserhoff, Angel Beyde and youth from Etobicoke create inspired, collaborative artwork expressing diversity and activating acceptance and alliances across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum. Erika Iserhoff and Angel Beyde’s interactive installation empowers, inspires and gives a voice to LGBTQ* youth and their allies. The installation includes spaces designed for youth to add their artwork and voices to the show. Contributing youth participate through a Gay-Straight Alliance** art program offered by Arts Etobicoke and Rexdale ProTech Media Centre.

The Catalyst exhibition and art program furthers Arts Etobicoke’s commitment to equity and human rights and expands the diversity of its community. The project is inspired by the gay-straight alliances forming in high schools across North America as a way to combat violence and bigotry. It springs from a need to create a safe space in Etobicoke for youth to begin to openly express diversity in gender and sexual orientation.

*lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/ transsexual/ two-spirited, queer/ questioning

**”A Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is an official student club with LGBTQ and heterosexual student membership and one or two teachers who serve as faculty advisors. The purpose of a GSA is to provide a safer space in which LGBTQ students and allies can work together on making their schools more welcoming for all members of school communities, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

A GSA in your school can benefit all students (LGBTQ or otherwise) by addressing multiple kinds of discrimination while promoting diversity and inclusivity among the student body and school community as a whole.”
The need for GSAs is supported by the findings of EGALE Canada’s recent national survey on homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Canadian schools, which revealed shockingly high levels of bullying, violence and harassment directed toward LGBTQ students. EGALE (Equality For Gays and Lesbians Everywhere) is Canada's LGBTQ human rights organization.


Angel Beyde is an ardent fan of neuroplasticity and is happily restoring her right-brain hemisphere to its long-lost 50% share of her cranium. Her work has appeared in Prism, Matrix, Prairie Fire and the CBC anthology Telling Stories: New English Stories from Quebec. Current projects include a novel, a collection of short fictions, paintings that look like space maps, and a mixed-media art installation about moths.

Erika A. Iserhoff is a woman of Omushkego Cree, Eeyou Cree and French Canadian ancestry. Erika is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in variety of mediums continuously bridging her cultural knowledge with contemporary approaches to creating art and designs.

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