Industrial Arts

INDUSTRIAL ARTS is a premier platform for experimentation, ideation and production borne from Markham’s industrial legacy. We are creating a community where everything is seen through an artistic lens, a place where creativity, vision, ambition can thrive. We are Markham’s creative heart.

Current activities include:

  • An informal mentoring and advisory program for artists
  • A commissioning & collaboration program
  • A venue for community events and programming
  • A curatorial residency
  • We are pleased to host our artists-in-residence, Xiaojing Yan  and Esmaa Mohamoud 

Please use contact below for inquiries or more information.

Steelcase Art Projects

Steelcase Art Projects is a Not-for-Profit organization whose mandate is to transform the industrial realm, and the Industrial Arts site in particular, through active artistic experimentation including ongoing collaborations, commissions and projects.

Our guiding principles are:

  1. Engaging people to see and support the creativity within the industrial realm
  2. Making every aspect of Industrial Arts a laboratory, a place for experimentation
  3. Attending to the environmental impact of our work
  4. Collaborating with the surrounding community as much as possible
  5. Empowering artists however we can

Site Unseen

Industrial Arts, in partnership with Steelcase Art Projects, presented Site Unseen, a two- month-long pop up exhibition showcasing the sculptures of Zeke Moores and the photography of Steven Laurie inside a vacant industrial unit. The curation was by Andrea Carson Barker and coordinated by our curator-in-residence Yuluo Wei.

Site Unseen challenges and transforms the viewer’s perception of industrial processes by highlighting the creative potential of often overlooked objects and spaces.

Emphasizing the unconventional viewing of industrial practices and workspace, Site Unseen is designed as a capacious place for inquiry and conversation, particularly with audiences not typically engaged with art. With minimal intervention, this 5,200 square foot warehouse encourages a profound and surprising exploration of labour, space and possibility within the industrial realm.

Excerpted from an exhibition text by Yuluo Wei.

Les petites tours (Steelcase)

Slow down, take a moment.

We invite you into a world were the everyday becomes extraordinary, and where play–purposeless yet profoundly meaningful–takes centre stage.

Crafted from plywood, drywall, stucco, Tremclad paint and other construction materials, artist Nicolas Fleming plays with everyday objects, elevating them onto columns, making them both undreachable and untouchable. This act not only isolates these objects but also frees them, allowing them to exist purely as forms, devoid of their utilitarian roles.

This work of art a nod to childhood exploration and the simple joys of play.

Text by consulting curator Yuluo Wei.

Les petites tours (Steelcase) is the first temporary piece in our sculpture garden and will be on view until spring 2024.

Stay tuned for more!

Breath of Origin

Our curator-in-residence, Yuluo Wei, organized this pop-up exhibition in a newly-renovated office unit, featuring work by Vladimir Kanic and Joy Wong made from living algae and Kombucha respectively.

What happens when artists derive inspiration from a meal at a Chinese restaurant? Breath of Origin is an immersive dual-artist exhibition that…offer(s) a thought-provoking answer to this question.

The exhibition encourages visitors to explore the common threads that link the innovative works of Wong and Kanic. As you immerse yourself in the evocative installations, consider the ways in which our shared history and the natural world around us shape our understanding of who we were, who we can become, and most importantly, who we are.

Excerpted from an exhibition text by Yuluo Wei.

Sheridan Ideation Session

We collaborated  with Project Management students at Sheridan College as part of a Creativity and Innovation class led by Dr. Brandon McFarlane, where we posed as the client in a two-part ideation session. Students were first given the opportunity to consider how they would approach an imaginary case study, ask questions of us, the client, and think through the role of arts and culture in creative placemaking.

Part two involved a hands-on session where students built scale models showing various creative possibilities for an approximately 20,000 square foot underused industrial parking lot on our site. Thanks to the students for their enthusiasm!

Five Arrows, Pointing Someway, Somewhere

We commissioned an art performance by Hamilton artist C.Wells in which he used municipal line painting templates to apply commercial road paint by hand onto our industrial parking lot. He chose the symbol of the arrow.

He writes:
And when you’ve lost your power as a weapon, there is nothing left to do but turn into a symbol. And your ancient identity since ancient times, which acquired different meanings based on the culture you were in, becomes a universal lesson today. And you find your way – some way. And you find the notion of here, there and eventually where – somewhere. And as a marking you continue to point to elsewhere. And when you lose your power there seems nothing left to do but turn back into a weapon. And you have no other strategic thought. And you despair.

And then you remember…you have your art.

One Through the Other

Our curator-in-residence Yuluo Wei was invited to curate an exhibition inside one of our units. She facilitated a beautiful, thought provoking show by artist Brandon Poole featuring a video work shot inside another on our our units, presently in use as a floral studio.  There was also a rear-projected video, visible at night from the exterior of the building.

Arranged as a series of nested diptychs, One through the Other is a commissioned site-specific video, photo, and sculpture installation in the fashion and lifestyle showroom San Sheng Art Space. One through the Other oscillates from its consideration of San Sheng Art Space to engage the neighbouring floral shop as site of reflection and refraction, pursuing the question of art’s relation to commodity through collocation.

Excerpted from an exhibition text by Kate Whiteway

Welcome to Markham

In order to bring a sense of contemporary visibility to the site, we approached Montreal artists/designers Simon Petepiece and Mati Contal of New American House.

The brief was to design a suite of modular outdoor furniture using materials from the industrial realm, ideally scrap materials, but presented in such a way that would be noticeable and welcoming for tenants and community members to use and gather.

Never did we imagine such an elegant, sculptural result, achieved using scrap steel and construction netting!

Life Liveth Pop-up

In 2018, we financed and facilitated the production of the launch of a line of silk scarves featuring the explosively coloured designs of Markham-based, Ghanaian artist and designer Yaw Tony under the name Life Liveth. This included the production of a pop-up exhibition at INDUSTRIAL ARTS.

Many of Yaw’s designs reference the Adinkra symbols of the Akan culture in Ghana.  These are distinctive shapes that are drawn from traditional West African proverbs and intertwined into a fascinatingly complex visual language.

For more information of Yaw Tony’s line of silk scarves and accessories please visit Life Liveth HERE.

Mentorship Program

Andrea brings her years of expertise as an art critic together with her business acumen to advise and guide selected artists, pro bono, on their careers. The focus is on the business development of each artist’s practice, providing connections and opportunities, support and encouragement.

Activities include:

  • Career & financial strategy and support
  • Networking and introductions
  • Travel to international art fairs
  • Support with promotional activities
  • Writing revisions for grants, applications etc.
[Photo: Yvonne Bambrick]

Contact me at to inquire about mentorship opportunities, to join our mailing list as we continue developing our programming or just to introduce yourself!