Call for Participants: The Myth of Consensus


Kitchener-based artist Aislinn Thomas is seeking contributions for a community visual description project.

The Myth of Consensus is an exhibition of abstract works created during the 1960s and 1970s, a heady time full of optimism for the future. The bloom of counter-cultures and constitutional separatism mobilized a rebellious new generation of citizens. Against this cultural backdrop, artists sought out innovative ways to give voice to an era of rapid societal change, turning away from traditional modes of representation and towards abstraction.

Kitchener-based artist Aislinn Thomas has been commissioned to create a response to this exhibition. For this project, she is inviting community members of all ages and experiences to help create visual descriptions of a selection of works in the show.

Visual description is a set of practices that aims to make visual information accessible through spoken language for those who are not able to fully experience something through sight.

Thomas’ recent work intervenes into the conventions of standardized access measures in search of experiences of access that are pleasurable, responsive to a range of preferences that are not often met by institutional approaches to accessibility, and are artworks in themselves. While professional description absolutely has its place and its fans, experimental and DIY approaches to visual description (and access more broadly) open up possibilities for collective care and solidarity.

Contributors will be asked to respond to one of three artworks from KWAG’s Permanent Collection on view in The Myth of Consensus:

  • Harold Feist, Tirade, 1977
  • Takao Tanabe, Optimist, 1964
  • Harold Town, Summit Meeting, 1961


Takao Tanabe's Optimist is an abstract painting of a cleft red head-shape with a dark gold halo against a horizontal background of brighter yellow Takao Tanabe, Optimist, 1964. Oil on canvas, 70.8cm x 123.6cm (framed). Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery Collection. Gift of Mr. Robert Williams, 1987. © Takao Tanabe. Photo: KWAG. 


No prior experience is necessary—we will guide you with prompts and questions. We will record your description in audio on-site at the Gallery. A selection of responses will be woven into an audio work that will be made available for visitors to experience in the latter portion of the exhibition's run.

All members of the community who are interested are welcome and encouraged to participate. Please let us know how we can help ensure your comfort and wellbeing in the Gallery. We are committed to access—if you encounter barriers to contributing and would like to do so, we will work with you to make your participation possible. 

Please contact Crystal Mowry, Senior Curator at KWAG, if you are interested in contributing and would like to book a time to do so, would like support navigating access needs, have questions or would like more information. 

We will be recording during times when the Gallery is closed to the public:

  • Monday 17  February, 10 am-1 pm
  • Monday 24 February, 10 am-4 pm
  • Monday 2 March, 10 am-4 pm
  • Sunday 8 March from 10 am-1 pm
  • Monday 9 March, 10am-1 pm  


Participants will be booked in 30 minute appointments to allow sufficient time to get comfortable with the equipment and learn about the process. Admission to the Gallery is always free and we encourage participants to visit the exhibition beforehand.

For considerations of access, we ask that you please help the Gallery to maintain a fragrance-reduced space by refraining from using perfume, essential oils and scented personal care products the day of your recording. For more information on how and why to avoid fragrance use, please see Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s website, and/or Nova Scotia Health’s Scent-Free Resource Binder.


For participation queries:

Crystal Mowry | Senior Curator
Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery
519-579-5860 x 215