Artists in the Library

Artists in the Library hero image

Artists in the Library is an artist residency program intended to create new collaborative opportunities for Toronto artists and increase arts access in underserved communities by animating libraries in Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough. Resident artists will deliver free public arts programming, such as community-engaged arts programs, visual and media arts installations and exhibitions, workshops, artist-talks and other public arts activities.

The Artists in the Library program was created in 2014 as a partnership between Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Public Library. Funding for this program is provided by the City of Toronto through Toronto Arts Council.

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2021 Artists in the Library

  • Marley Allen-Ash

    photo of Marley Allen-Ash

    Marley Allen-Ash is an illustrator and animator working in Toronto, Canada. In her personal practice, she combines traditional and digital media to create animated and static visual work that explores memory and mood. Marley also works as an freelance editorial illustrator with clients including the New York Times and The Globe and Mail, and her work has been recognized by 3x3, American Illustration and Creative Quarterly. In 2019 she was the Innovator in Residence at Fort York Library, where she delivered programming about digital illustration. She studied at OCAD University, completing a Bachelor of Design in illustration.

    Artist's Statement

    "I'm interested in creating work that reflects memory and feeling through abstracted visual narratives. During this residency I will be incorporating recollections from the community into an animated installation that explores dreams and mental health. In addition, I've found that the process of drawing and animating has given me new tools for expression, and I will be facilitating virtual workshops as an opportunity to share with youth and adults how to use these tools so they can create their own digital artwork."


  • Erica Brisson

    photo of Ana Gaberiela Erica Brisson

    Erica Brisson brings ideas to life. As a visual storyteller and artist, Erica has produced socially engaged art and design commissions in Canada and Europe for over 10 years. Organizations commission her to produce projects that often involve research, community engagement, and illustration. She brings a deep interest in psychology, learning, and visual thinking to her work. Erica has worked with the AGO, CAMH, Koffler Arts, Arts Etobicoke, STEPS Public Art, ZK/U Berlin, and Tandem culture without borders.

    Artist's Statement

    "Growing up in downtown Toronto, I am city kid at heart, fascinated by the beauty and vitality of urban communities. Walking and drawing are great ways to get to know our immediate environment. To look closer. To pay attention. To slow down. Places tell us stories. I'm interested in my own and other peoples' different ways of seeing the place where we live. I like to create opportunities for us to share what we notice through pictures, symbols, and words."


  • Community Story Collective (Emmy Pantin)

    photo of Emmy Pantin

    Community Arts Collective is an arts collective focused on media and storytelling for marginalized voices.

    Artist's Statement

    "Community Story Collective will work with customers of the Cliffcrest Branch of the Toronto Public Library to explore their stories through media, writing and storytelling, to tell the stories that don't often get heard."


  • Ruben 'Beny' Esguerra

    photo of Ruben 'Beny' Esguerra

    Ruben 'Beny' Esguerra arrived from Bacatá, Colombia as a political refugee with his parents, and currently lives and works in Jane-Finch, Tkaronto. Beny is a JUNO nominated musician/producer, poet, arts educator and community worker. Highlights of his career include leading New Tradition Music, designing courses for Canadian Universities, visiting schools across Ontario and receiving the 2021 Artist Educator of the Year award from the Ontario Arts Foundation. He is the music director of several Jane-Finch arts programs and co-leads the NTM Mobile Studio Project. Beny is a PhD (ABD) candidate in Musicology/Ethnomusicology, specializing in Afro-Indigenous Colombian music and Hip Hop culture.

    Artist's Statement

    "I am a community-based artist committed to art-forms generally under-represented in mainstream school curriculums. I realized that I never connected artistically with the music we were learning in elementary school. It was not until I was exposed to a wider range of approaches to art in University that I re-connected with music. I decided to explore many traditional and urban artistic styles and apply them to my compositions and teaching approaches. My artistic practice will be employed by creating a space for community artists to participate in open studio sessions and performances rooted in all of the forms of expression."


  • Leah Gold

    photo of Leah Gold

    Leah Gold is a visual artist and community arts facilitator. Her drawings and ceramics use playful and fantastical imagery to explore emotional states and imaginary worlds, and have been exhibited locally and internationally. She has facilitated projects for such organizations as TIFF, The Koffler Centre of the Arts, Arts Etobicoke, Lakeshore Arts, and the Kapisanan Philippine Centre for the Arts. With Hijinks Collective, she creates participatory, multidisciplinary projects that combine a DIY ethos with professional calibre visual and sound art production. Leah holds a BFA from Concordia University, and is currently based in Toronto.

    Artist's Statement

    "What I love about community arts is encountering so many different people, and creating a context where they all feel welcome to learn and to create together. It feels like a simple thing to hand people some art supplies and invite them to sit still and pay attention, to play and to dream. But it is also a thing that can open up all kinds of interesting doors in our minds. I hope that my projects give people permission to try, and to screw up, and to see the beauty in their trembly lines and misshapen forms anyway."



  • Kuné - Canada's Global Orchestra

    photo of Kuné - Canada's Global Orchestra

    Canada's Global Orchestra was created in 2017 by The Royal Conservatory of Music celebrating the cultural diversity and pluralism of Canada. This ensemble brings together virtuosic musicians who have immigrated to Canada as well as an Indigenous representative. In the fall of 2019, KUNÉ completed their first US tour. In early 2020, KUNÉ received a National Creation Fund grant and in partnership with Banff Centre for the Arts premiered six of their compositions with the Winnipeg Symphony and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. KUNÉ's debut record was also sponsored by the Banff Centre and is distributed by Universal Music Canada.

    Artist's Statement

    "KUNÉ's influences come from each member's individual cultural upbringing. KUNÉ strives to create the feeling of grounded-ness and sense of being embraced and accepted in a new and unfamiliar place generating and re-envisioning new memories and associations through music in a safe and accepting space establishing an understanding that we are all experiencing the same struggles and joys together. With musicians from different backgrounds, KUNÉ is creating the sounds of Toronto. The group is finding a way to delve into a musical genre that has just begun to be explored, consistently doing what has never been done before."


  • Kwentong Bayan Collective

    photo of Kwentong Bayan Collective

    Kwentong Bayan is a collective of two Toronto-based artists, Althea Balmes and Jo SiMalaya Alcampo. They explore community-based art, labour, and education. In the Filipino language, 'kwentong bayan' is the literal translation of 'community stories'. They often collaborate with Filipino Migrant Care Workers who support Canadian families to care for children, elders, and those with complex medical needs. Kwentong Bayan Collective's art has been exhibited and published internationally, including the anthology, Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle. Their work is taught in high schools, colleges and universities and has been integrated into the Ontario school curriculum.

    Artist's Statement

    "Ways of Weaving" was originally developed by Kwentong Bayan and Kapwa Collective. We have facilitated this playshop series with different communities since 2015, as part of our ongoing exploration of re-indigenization, healing and play. As Filipinx peoples who have been uprooted from our own ancestral lands, and who now live, work, and benefit from the resources on Indigenous territories under the "Dish With One Spoon" covenant, we offer gratitude and respect to the traditional caretakers of the land and waterways. At this critical time of global transitions, we seek to reconnect with Indigenous ways of being and sustainable art practices."


  • Legin

    photo of Legin

    Legin's journey with crochet began through the mentorship of a Rasta man in Trinidad. After using his newfound skills to design and create original pieces, he started teaching friends and youth in the community and offering programs focused on the meditative practice of crochet through Art of Crochet. Legin is also behind Legin Knits, creating one-of-a kind, original and embellished garments using crochet.

    Artist's Statement

    "I love crochet as a creative way to share my offerings! Initially I just wanted new hats for myself. I was 19 years old, embracing Rastafarian roots and culture and had been growing my dreadlocks for 2 years. I could not find headwear I liked, so I thought if I made it myself, I'd have everything I needed and more. Well, was I ever right! I still have the first hat I made and 25 years later, continue to innovate and change the way people see crochet. The decision to crochet changed my life and now inspires Art Of Crochet."


  • Daniel Rotsztain and Romero Alexander Martin

    photo of Daniel Rotsztain and Romero Alexander Martin

    Growing With It is a Toronto-based arts collective dedicated to facilitating authentic and hyper-local self-expression through participatory workshops. Growing With It is Romero Alexander Martin and Daniel Rotsztain, Toronto artists with a playful community-based practice and shared passion for elevating contemporary and everyday experiences by translating them into energetic and collaborative artworks.

    Artist's Statement

    "LOCAL HISTORY HOTLINE is a collaborative project that will add a new book to the shelves of Cedarbrae's local history collection: a volume that reflects the diverse and everyday experiences of Cedarbrae's residents. Local community input will be facilitated through interactive workshops and a 1-800 hotline number."


  • Chason Yeboah

    photo of Chason Yeboah

    Chason Adjoa Nana Yeboah is a self-taught textile sculptor, doll maker and story-teller, exploring the oscillation of ancestral ritual through reconstructed, (un)raveled and crocheted structures. Many of her works directly focus on themes of shame, loss of identity, sexuality, the notion and practice of "self-love" hybridity, energy transference, and acknowledgement of the human form, with a primary focus on marginalized humans.

    Artist's Statement

    "Born to a Trinidadian mother and Ghanaian father who met in Toronto where I was born, I like to think of myself and my practice as a direct product of the innate rituals of the diaspora. A new world conduit, here to continue (as we all do) the artistic generational movement of craft and story-telling through feeling and meditative thought."


  • Julián Carvajal and Paula Solano

    photo of Julián Carvajal and Paula Solano

    Julián (he/him) is a passionate Colombian-Canadian Queer Mix-Media Artist, Event Producer, Project Manager and Cultural Promoter and Curator who has been working in the not-for-profit sector for the past 17 years in multiple roles. He is the Creator and Curator of this program which honours the lives of his Grandmother and Mother. Paula was born in Bogotá, Colombia, where she studied Law and Visual Arts. She worked as a lawyer until she decided to switch careers, move to Canada and studied Illustration. She has illustrated 5 published books. She is passionate about art, creativity, the inner world and teaching.

    Artist's Statement

    "This program has been designed to encourage seniors to share their life stories in audio and visual formats to celebrate their existence. To have a better understanding of who they are. To get inspired by their stories, and continue using storytelling as a powerful tool to learn from each other and let their imagination take them to unexisting places with real and imaginary characters, places, emotions. With this program I am honouring my grandmother, for sharing many of her adventures, and my mother through her thesis on Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Gracias! Leonor Carvajal García & Beatriz Eugenia Carvajal."


  • Musical Story Studio (Sarah Abu-Sharar, Chris Taeyoung Kim, Cassie Norton)

    photo of Musical Story Studio

    Sarah: MA accredited expressive arts therapist. BSW. Theatre School. School of Storytelling Toronto. Teaches storytelling classes for children and families in the Rexdale area with the Parent-Child Mother Goose program. Chris: B. Mus/M. A. (Music Education), B. Ed. TDSB Secondary educator. Teaches piano and songwriting at Regent Park School of Music. Cassie: BFA, MA in Music Composition. Founder of Music for Climate Justice. Teaches violin and songwriting at Regent Park School of Music.

    Artist's Statement

    "Musical Story Studio (MSS) aims to share our love of music and story creation with a younger generation, especially those who may not see themselves represented in mainstream art and music. We believe that it is important for diverse voices to be empowered to share their stories and to be heard."


  • Esmond Lee (李春錦)

    photo of Esmond Lee

    Esmond Lee (李春錦¦) is an artist, photographer, and practicing architect based in Scarborough. Lee explores long-term, intergenerational experiences of migration in peripheral, in-between spaces. He holds a Master of Architecture and draws from this to examine identity, belonging, and nuanced cultural and political borders in the built environment. Lee's work includes a 250-foot long installation for Nuit Blanche Scarborough 2019, developed during his time in the Doris McCarthy Artist-in-Residency, and a 25-foot tall installation at Malvern Town Centre as a CONTACT Photography Festival Core Exhibit. His work received recognition from the Burtynsky Grant and is part of CAMH's permanent collection.

    Artist's Statement

    "As a second generation Chinese-Canadian, I draw from my family's experience in exploring long-term and intergenerational experiences of migration in the urban periphery. I grew-up in Scarborough and still make this place my home, sharing a house with my elderly father in an arrangement of mutual care. I examined Scarborough as a site of migration and continuous change, based on the idea that migration is not the start and end of a physical journey, but a collection of experiences and values that transform through generations. I am proud to create hyperlocal research and art concerning my community here in the suburbs."


2020 Artists in the Library

  • Ana Gabriela Lopez Castro

    photo of Ana Gaberiela Lopez Castro

    Ana Gabriela Lopez Castro is a Mexican visual artist based in Toronto. Her artistic formation started in the areas of photography, printmaking and alebrijes in 1999. She established herself in Toronto in 2008 and is an active exponent of Mexican art and culture throughout the presentation of her artistic and handcrafted work known as the Alebrijes. She has exhibited widely in Canada and Mexico from 2000 to the present; and since 2013 has collaborated as leading artist with Muse Arts. Ana Gabriela has a bachelor's degree in visual arts from the Faculty of Arts and Design at UNAM from Mexico City and Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design from Centennial College.

    Artist's Statement

    "My body of work is inspired by Mexican folk art, colourful, diverse and rich. Through my work, I want to show that by learning about other cultures we can create communities inspired by each other, also the diverse mediums I use shows the different possibilities to create work."


    IG: AnaGaby LopezC


    Fantastical Creatures Alebrijes Workshop with Ana Gabriela Lopez Castro

  • Mania Elendari

    photo of Mania Elendari

    Mania Elendari runs workshops using therapeutic art tools to psychosocially support women and youth who have suffered from war trauma and displacements. At CultureLink in Toronto, Mania runs a Drama for Trauma workshop wherein Syrian newcomer women work together to practice writing scenarios, acting, and performing for public audiences. She has run interactive theatres with Syrian refugee women in Lebanon and internally displaced women. Mania was trained by the War Child organization in Lebanon to facilitate psychosocial support workshops. Mania has run several programs with Syrian displaced youth and children using theatre, painting, games, and handcraft for psychosocial support.

  • Alex D./ Fresh Cut Paper Studio

    image for Alex D./ Fresh Cut Paper Studio

    Alex D. (fresh cut paper studio) is a Toronto-based, francophone paper artist and arts educator who combines ancient paper sculpting techniques and modern design to create beautiful paper works. She takes great care in designing, cutting, and shaping her hyperrealistic paper art into dynamic paper props, large scale paper installations, and custom pieces for private collections. Alex also delivers paper arts programming in schools and libraries, in both English and French.

    Artist's Statement

    "The versatility of paper and its creative possibilities inspire me. The approachability of this simple medium aligns with my goal to make art more accessible, and foster art participation opportunities for people of all ages and skill. I am committed to the promotion of creativity as a component of self-care, especially during these challenging times. I’m fascinated by the universal role paper plays in our lives, as a medium that inspires, informs, and celebrates us. Through the program, I will explore this concept with the creation of a 12-piece exhibit called Paper Trail: Portrait of a Life in 12 Sheets."


    Instagram: @freshcutpaperstudio


    Artists in the Library - Pretty Petals: Shaping Paper Flowers

  • Pratibha Arts

    photo of Pratibha Arts collage

    Pratibha Arts presents an array of music and dance artists who reflect and honour the cultural diversity of Toronto: Carmen Romero (Flamenco dance), Sina Bathaie (Iranian Santur), Emilie Andree-Jabouin (African-Caribbean-Canadian dance), Kristian Gusho (Albanian, electric violin), Vineet Vyas (North Indian drumming) and Bageshree Vaze (Indian classical dance). As part of its Diversity Dance Initiative (DDI) project, Pratibha Arts is programming this performance and workshops to engage, enthral and inspire Library audiences. This unique program will feature snippets of the various artists and their practices.



    Artists in the Library - Pratibha Arts Dance Performance

Past Programs

How to Apply

The Artists in the Library program provides funding with grants of $10,000 to professional artists, arts organizations and collectives working in any artistic discipline to undertake community-engaged artist residencies in selected branches of the Toronto Public Library.

The application deadline for residencies taking place in 2022 has passed and applications are not currently being accepted. Stay tuned for information about the next opportunity to apply for an artist residency.

Please visit the Toronto Arts Council website for full eligibility, application and submission details. Click to view or download a PDF of the Artists in the Library Program Guidelines.