Curatorial Lab @ Sensorium

The Curatorial Lab was created to foster Sensorium’s commitment to developing innovative research-creation methodologies and to bring art and performance on an ongoing basis to the Sensorium Loft, a new research space in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design. The Lab focuses on presenting the work of contemporary artists who creatively integrate technology in their work—for example, engaging with photography, sound, film and video, media art, and digital and interactive performance. We extend the reach of these exhibitions by hosting community engagement events at York—talks, seminars, teach-ins, performances, and workshops—led by the featured artists to coincide with and compliment their exhibitions at Sensorium. It is the goal of the Curatorial Lab to have an annual rotating roster of curators to animate the space and to bring exciting and innovative artists to York University to share their work. The inaugural curator of the Lab is Shalon Webber-Heffernan.
The Robarts-Sensorium Curatorial Mentorship program was launched in 2022 to provide curatorial mentorship and organizational experience for one grad student annually.  Building on our existing Curatorial Lab program to work with the galleries on campus, the program will provide funding for one graduate student, to work behind the scenes collaboratively on an international exhibition.

Upcoming Events


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Headshot of Janine Marchessault. Janine Marchessault

Janine Marchessault is a professor in Cinema and Media Arts and holds a York Research Chair in Media Art and Social Engagement. Her research has engaged with four areas: the history of large screen media (from multiscreen to Imax to media as architecture and VR); diverse models of public art, festivals, and site specific curation; 21st century moving-image archives and notions of collective memory/history. She is a founder of the Future Cinema Lab, and the 2014-2016 inaugural Director of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts Research. A Trudeau Fellow, she is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

She belongs to the research group and is a founding member of the Public Access Curatorial Collective. Her latest project is an expanded cinema festival Outer Worlds—commissioning five IMAX films by artists which premiered at the Cinesphere in 2019 as part of Images Festival.

Dr. Marchessault is the PI for Archive/Counter-Archive: Activating Moving Image Heritage (2018-2024 SSHRC Partnership Grant), a research collaboration involving more than 14 community and artist run archives in Canada devoted to diverse histories from Indigenous, LGBTQ, immigrant and women’s histories. Her research explores the afterlife of moving image archives as art forms and new historical knowledge (

Headshot of Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan. Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan

Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan is a curator, writer, and Ph.D. student in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at York University. She is currently curator in residence at the Curatorial Lab @ Sensorium and has been independently curating interdisciplinary, live performance events since 2016. She recently worked as Assistant Curator with Toronto’s 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art, and was previously involved as Exhibition Coordinator of a touring project entitled #callresponse at grunt gallery in Vancouver. She has presented her work at the Universities Art Association of Canada (UAAC), Trans-In-Corporados conference at Rio de Janeiro, and is chairing a panel in July 2019 at Performance Studies international (PSi) in Calgary. In 2019, Shalon published an article in Performance Matters journal for a special edition called “Performance and Bodies-Politic,” edited by Peter Dickinson and Róisín O’Gorman.

Melanie Wilmink  Image of Melanie Wilmink speaking into a microphone.

Melanie Wilmink is a PhD candidate in Visual Art & Art History at York University (Toronto), with honours such as the 2014 Elia Scholars Award and a 2015 SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship. With a dissertation focus on the inter-connectivity between spectatorial experience and exhibition spaces, her ongoing research emerged during her role programming for the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers, and her independent curating practice including the Situated Cinema project (Pleasure Dome, 2015), and as Curator in Residence for Sidewalk Labs Toronto. She is also co-editor of the anthology Sculpting Cinema (2018).

Cleo Sallis-Parchet 
Robarts-Sensorium Curatorial Mentorship Program
Assistant Curator, SENSORIA: the Art and Science of Our Senses

Eva Lu
Assistant Curator, SENSORIA: the Art and Science of Our Senses

Curatorial Lab @ Sensorium Past Events

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Poster for Re[new]all exhibition. Lists contributor and artists names, sponsor logos and exhibit opening 30 Sept 2021

Curated by : Melanie Wilmink, Ian Garrett and Joel Ong
Hubs design: Justine Katerenchuk
Additional support: Simon Lynch

Patrick Alcedo
Tyler Graham and Jocelyn Graham
Racelar Ho, Dragon Zheng, & Zhi’ai Chen
Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Mary Bunch, Mariel Belanger, Hodari Newtown, Lydia Johnson, and Shelby Payocyoc
Ella Morton
Taien Ng-Chan and Carmela Laganse
Michael Palumbo and Kavi (Ilze Briede)
Jonathan Scott
Dan Tapper
Jane Tingley

The exhibition Re[new]All is held as an inaugural partnership between Sensorium and the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. The project is an exhibition in virtual space that provides a cultural context to the public health crisis that we have all experienced this past year. The presented works are diverse and focus on artists that are marginalized, or approach topics of marginalization in their work, such as digital artworks and stories that explore the interconnections between Anishinaabeg ontologies and microscopic imagery, and others that explore Asian Futurist Diasporic aesthetics. The exhibition is also supported by other academic units such as VISTA, YCAR, Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, Betaspace and the AMPD Makerspace.

Re[new]all explores the creative ecologies of matter and energy. The exhibition begins from a position of discomfort, of the sensory (dis)pleasures of our virtual modes of existence to explore themes of creative worldbuilding, virtual scenographics and adaptation within the renewed hybridity of online/offline environments. Hosted entirely in purpose-built Mozilla Hubs 3D “rooms,” the project features work by artists and researchers affiliated with Sensorium: Centre for Digital Art and Technology at the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD) at York University (Toronto).

Click here to read a longer curatorial statement.

Poster image for Life: A Sensorium digital exhibition.


group exhibition at ISEA  2020

The exhibition investigates the nexus of art, science and technology through the works of artists and researchers affiliated with Sensorium: the Centre for Digital Art and Technology at York University in Toronto, Canada

Curated by : Janine Marchessault, Melanie Wilmink.
Videography : Jean-Pierre Marchant

Featured artists: Allison Humphrey [CA], Dan Tapper [UK], David Han and Aidan WaIte [CA], Doug Van Nort [US/CA], Evan Light [CA], Freya Olafson [CA], Graham Wakefield and Haru Ji [UK/CA; KR/CA], Jenn E Norton [CA], Joel Ong [CA/SG], John Greyson [CA], Mark-David Hosale and Jim Madsen [CA], Michael Trommer [CA], Michaela Pnacekova [CA/DE/SK], Nicole Clouston [CA], Taien Ng-Chan [CA].

View Exhibition HERE:

Image of Chief Lady Bird print entitled Self Portrait as the Moon.

Chief Lady Bird, Self Portrait As The Moon, 2018

Chief Lady Bird

November 14th –  December 5th 

Sensorium Research Loft (Room M333, 4th Floor GCFA)

Be sure to swing by the Sensorium Research Loft to see two incredible works of art by Chippewa and Potawatomi interdisciplinary artist Chief Lady Bird for this year’s final Curatorial Lab installation, organized by Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan. You can see Self Portrait as the Moon and Kinship with the Sky from November 14th to December 5th.

Chief Lady Bird is a Chippewa and Potawatomi artist from Rama First Nation and Moosedeer Point First  Nation, who is currently based in Toronto. She graduated  from OCAD University in 2015 with a BFA in Drawing and Painting and a minor in Indigenous Visual Culture. Through her art practice, Chief Lady Bird uses street art, community-based workshops, digital illustration and mixed media work to empower and uplift Indigenous people through the subversion of colonial  narratives, shifting focus to both contemporary realities and Indigenous Futurisms by creating space to discuss the nuances of our experiences. Chief Lady Bird makes work about ceremony, stories, reclamation, tattoos, sex, sexuality,  language,  fashion, cultural appropriation and hopes that her images can be a catalyst for reimagining our relationship with the land, each other and ourselves.

Chief  Lady  Bird  was  the  recipient  of  the Donna Mclean Award for Portraiture and Life Study in 2015; she is recognized for her murals and received the Leading Women Building Communities Recognition Award in 2017 alongside Aura for a mural they facilitated with a group of youth. In addition to this, Chief Lady Bird has created designs/illustrations for Vice News, West End Phoenix, Chirp  Magazine,  Flare  Magazine,  Ontario  Human  Rights  Commission,  Open Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario and Twitter to name a few. She was also proudly featured in the legendary Kinship issue of Canadian Art alongside many brilliant Indigenous artists and was the first artist to create an emoji for Twitter for Indigenous Peoples Day/ Indigenous History Month in 2018. She illustrated a children’s book for Scholastic, titled Nibi’s Water Song, released in August 2019!

Image from Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes) by Amanda Strong.

Four Faces of the Moon and Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes)

Digital Exhibition – March 25th-April 4th 

Four Faces of the Moon and Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes) by Amanda Strong will be on display in the Sensorium Research Loft Monday – Thursday, 10:00am – 3:00pm from March 25th to April 4th.

Amanda Strong is an award-winning interdisciplinary Michif artist with a focus on filmmaking, stop motion animations, and media art. She is currently based on unceded Coast Salish territories also known as Vancouver. Strong is the owner/director/producer of Spotted Fawn Productions Inc. (SFP). Under her direction SFP utilizes a multi-layered approach and unconventional methods that are centred in collaboration on all aspects of their work. With a cross-discipline focus, common themes of her work are reclamation of Indigenous histories, lineage, language, and culture.
For more info, please email:


Poster image for Four Faces of the Moon and Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes) screening event.


Four Faces of the Moon & Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes)

Screening & Artist Talk with Amanda Strong  

York Cinema & Media Arts and the Curatorial Lab @ Sensorium are pleased to present Four Faces of the Moon & Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes) by Amanda Strong next Tuesday, March 19th @ 3:00pm in the Nat Taylor Cinema. Following the screening we invite guests to attend a reception and conversation with artist Amanda Strong in the Sensorium Research Loft @ 4:00pm.

Poster image for Biidaaban: First Light by Lisa Jackson interactive VR experience.

 Biidaaban: First Light

VR Experience by Lisa Jackson, Mathew Borrett and Jam3

Rooted in the realm of Indigenous futurism, Biidaaban: First Light is an interactive VR time-jump into a highly realistic—and radically different—Toronto of tomorrow. As users explore this altered city now reclaimed by nature, they must think about their place in history and ultimately their role in the future. The VR environment was created using to-scale architectural models of Toronto’s Osgoode subway station and the buildings surrounding Nathan Phillips Square. View the trailer here.

Due to a limited number of VR headsets, you are required to book your time in advance to experience this installation.

Dates: February 11th and February 12th, 2019 from 12:30pm-3:30pm

Please also join us for an artist talk with Lisa Jackson on February 13th, 2019 from 4:00pm to 6:30pm in the Senior Common Room at Vanier College (VC010).

Lisa Jackson (Anishinaabe) is one of Canada’s most celebrated contemporary artists working in film and VR. In Biidaaban: First Light, Lisa joins forces with 3D artist Mathew Borrett to create a future for Canada’s largest urban centre from an Indigenous female perspective.

Biidaaban: First Light appears at York as the inaugural installation in Sensorium’s Curatorial Lab Series, which is curated in 2019 by Shalon Webber-Heffernan.