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Workshops & seminars

Seed > Root

Artist Talk by Shelly Bahl

Date & time
Friday, October 27, 2023
12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Registration is closed


This event is free



J.W. McConnell Building
1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.

Wheel chair accessible


New York-based Canadian artist Shelly Bahl will be talking about the new body of work she is currently developing, Seed > Root, commemorating thirty years of her interdisciplinary art practice. The personal is political and communal for Bahl, who has been in community with racialized artists in the Americas since 1993; communal art and activism have driven all aspects of her art-making, curatorial, and pedagogical practices. Ongoing dialogue and collaboration between racialized artists and arts workers constitute intentional resistance to white supremacy in the art world and the world at large. This labour has generally been unseen and unacknowledged. The seeds continue to be planted but the ground is unforgiving. Still, seeds are planted daily, and some take root.

Bahl will be discussing her participation in BIPOC-led collectives and arts organisations such as Desh Pardesh, Godzilla, SAVAC, Zen-Mix 2000, and SAWCC. She will also talk about her art and artist-led communal projects of the past year in this discussion, moderated by Dr. Balbir Singh.

How can you participate? Join us in person or online by registering for the Zoom Meeting or watching live on YouTube.

Have questions? Send them to


Shelly Bahl

Shelly Bahl is an interdisciplinary artist and decolonizing art trailblazer,leading and participating in BIPOC and feminist artist-run culture in Toronto and New York for thirty years.

Bahl was born in Benares, India and raised in a few Indian cities, and later in Toronto, Canada where she received her BFA (Visual Art and Art History) from York University. She obtained an MA (Studio Art) from New York University in New York where she is currently based. Her interdisciplinary work in drawing, painting, sculpture/ installation, performance, photography and video has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions in North America and internationally.   

As an educator, curator, and arts programmer, Bahl has worked with numerous arts organisations including as a founding artist member of SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) and ZEN-MIX 2000: Pan-Asian Visual Arts Network in Toronto. She was the inaugural director of SAVAC from 1997-1999, and she has also served on the Board of Directors for the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective in NYC, and Mercer Union Gallery, A Space Gallery, and SAVAC in Toronto. From 1999 to 2000 she was the first curator-in-residence (Contemporary Art) at the Art Gallery of Ontario, awarded through the Canada Council for the Arts, Culturally Diverse Curators Program.  

Dr. Balbir K. Singh

Dr. Balbir K. Singh is Canada Research Chair in Art and Racial Justice, as well as Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History. She is the Director of Dark Opacities Lab, a hub for BIPOC political and aesthetic study and strategy at Concordia that will launch on November 2nd here at 4th Space.

Singh’s work centers the racial, gendered, and sexual politics of embodiment, surveillance, and policing. Using anti-colonial methods of reading and sensing, Singh builds on theories of opacity in her in-progress manuscript “Militant Bodies: Racial/Religious Opacity and Minoritarian Self-Defense,” takes a materialist feminist approach to explore questions that center post-9/11 racial and religious hyper-policing of Muslim and Sikh bodies. 

Currently, she serves as Reviews Editor for the College Art Association’s Art Journal. Singh has been published in journals including Sikh FormationsCritical Ethnic StudiesQEDSurveillance and SocietyRhizomes, and the Journal of Asian American Studies.

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