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AGYU fall exhibition: ‘Elemental Fire,’ a solo exhibition by Tim Whiten

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) presents:

Tim Whiten: Elemental Fire

Sept. 15 to Dec. 03

Guest curated by Liz Ikiriko

Opening reception: Thursday, Sept. 14, 6 to 9 p.m.

The AGYU is honoured to announce our upcoming fall exhibition, Tim Whiten: Elemental Fire. Please save the date, Thursday, Sept. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. for the public reception with the artist and guest curator in attendance.

Tim Whiten: Elemental Fire brings together over 14 cultural objects from the past four decades of Tim Whiten’s prolific career, including works in glass, on paper and a new site-specific installation created specifically for this exhibition. Whiten’s enduring 50-plus-year practice has been clearly and consistently focused on the known and unknowable, on practical and ephemeral aspects that fundamentally propel and challenge human existence and consciousness.

Elemental Fire, guest curated by Liz Ikiriko, considers how the material transformations of fire appear in Whiten’s work as forms of alchemy, risk, play and energetic power. Often alluding to notions of time and faith through histories of storytelling and spirituality (ranging from prehistoric, Greek and Roman mythology through to Kabbalist and Buddhist traditions), Whiten’s work returns us to consider primary questions of our bodies, our presence and our value in this current moment.

Elemental Fire is part of an expanded, multi-venue retrospective and collaborative publication celebrating Whiten’s extensive career, developed as a partnership with the Art Gallery of Peterborough, the Art Gallery of York University, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery and the McMaster Museum of Art from 2022 to 2023. This series of exhibitions shares the nomenclature “elemental” and is thematically united by the classical elements of air, water, earth and fire – a reference to Whiten’s interest in alchemical practices. The AGYU is pleased to present the final exhibition of this series.

As part of Elemental Fire, the AGYU will present an active program of conversations, readings and performances, including: a curatorial walk-through by Liz Ikiriko (Sept. 16); a panel discussion with the curators of the Elemental series of exhibitions (Oct. 18); an offsite respondent talk by scholar Nehal El-Hadi and an experimental sound response by artist Zoma Tochi Maduekwe (Nov. 14); and an online reading group led by artist and writer Farhia Tato (Oct. 24 and Nov. 28).

Tim Whiten was born in Inkster, Michigan, in 1941. Self-described as an image maker and creator of cultural objects, Whiten’s practice spans five decades. He received a master off fine arts from the University of Oregon in 1966 and served military duty from 1966 to 1968. Immigrating to Toronto later that year, he began his teaching career in the Division of Humanities in the Faculty of Arts at York University. For 39 years, Whiten inspired thousands of students in their creative pursuits; as an award-winning educator and Chair of York University’s Department of Visual Arts, he has contributed to generations of the Toronto arts ecology. His work has been exhibited across North America, from the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the Colorado University Art Museum, with his work in public collections at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, York University and the de Young Museum in San Francisco, among others. Of his many accolades and awards, he is the recent recipient of the 2022 Gershon Iskowitz prize at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the 2023 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for Artistic Achievement.

With over 15 years of experience in the field of contemporary art and photography, Liz Ikiriko has delivered large-scale, complex projects, working closely with a variety of artists, organizations and institutions. She builds long-lasting connections with organizations, including Wedge Curatorial Projects, the National Music Centre, Critical Distance Centre for Curators and the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Ikiriko received her master of fine arts in criticism and curatorial practice from OCAD University, and has taught photography at Toronto Metropolitan University and Sheridan College. She has written for and worked on publications including Maclean’s, Public Journal, MICE Magazine, Blackflash, Akimbo, C Magazine and, most recently, contributed to Aperture’s As We Rise: Photography From the Black Atlantic. She is co-founder of the Ways of Attuning Curatorial Study Group, a member of the curatorial committee for the 13th Rencontres de Bamako, African Photography Biennial in Mali. She is the inaugural curator of collections and art in public space at the University of Toronto’s Art Museum and was the previous curator of collections and contemporary art engagement at the AGYU.

To book a free group tour, email: Allyson Adley, education and community engagement co-ordinator, at

For press, contact: Michael Maranda, assistant curator, publications, at

The AGYU is a socially minded, not-for-profit, contemporary art gallery that is a space for the creation and appreciation of art and culture. It is a supported unit of York University, within the President’s Division. The AGYU is also externally funded as a public art gallery through the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, local and international foundations, embassies and our membership who support all of our programs.

Art Gallery of York University
Accolade East Building, 83 York Blvd.
Toronto, Ont., M3J 1P3

Getting to the AGYU

We recommend arriving by TTC, as the AGYU is located 15 metres from the south entrance of the York University Subway Station (28 minutes north on TTC Line 1 from St. George Station or eight minutes south from Vaughan Station.) It is wheelchair accessible. Pay parking is available on the street and in the Student Services Parking Garage on Ian MacDonald Boulevard (84 James Gillies St.). Download the HONK app to pay for parking.

More information:


Visual story:


Sep 15 2023 - Dec 02 2023


12:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Art Gallery of York University @ Accolade East Bldg, 83 York Blvd, North York, ON M3J 2S5, Canada
Art Gallery of York University


Art Gallery of York University
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