the feminist exhibition space

femlab is a creative laboratory for feminist practice at the University of Alberta.

It features creative work that has been created by U of A students in undergraduate courses in Women’s and Gender Studies, by MFA students and graduates, and feminist artists across the university and our wider community.

Tools for the Revolution

My work suggests metaphorical tools to dismantle oppressive systems

Stephanie Jonsson

Inspired by Audre Lorde’s declaration that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” sculptor Stephanie Jonsson reclaims the practice of craft in order to offer a voice of dissent. In the gallery from August to December 2019 are two pieces from Jonsson’s Against the Patriarchy: Tools for the Revolution.

detail of Question Conventional Gender Paradigms, 2018

For Jonsson, explorations of craft and ornamentation are one way to think differently about the major challenges facing the world today. Artists, she reminds us, have a crucial role to play in pushing back against the recent surge of nationalist and populist political sentiment in the West. In “Emphasize Accountability,” Jonsson combines ceramics, metal, and crochet to create an uncanny object that pushes viewers to wonder how we might use the objects and ideas around us in surprising combinations and to radical ends.

Stephanie Jonsson ( is head sculpture technician at the University of Alberta. She holds a BFA from the U of A, and a MAA from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, BC. Her work has appeared in galleries including: Gallery of BC Ceramics, Bleeding Heart Art Gallery, The Alberta Craft Council, and the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee.

Join members of the department of Women’s and Gender Studies on Thursday November 28th as we welcome Stephanie Jonsson for an artist talk and reception. The talk will be held in Assiniboia Hall, room 1-26 at 3:30.

All are welcome.

repurposed: an exploration of digital art & activism

Kaitlyn Grant is the curator of the most recent exhibition in the femlab gallery. The show, called repurposed: an exploration of digital art and activism, includes work by graduate students in Digital Humanities, Gender and Social Justice Studies, and Design, all from the University of Alberta.

repurposed runs until the middle of April, come by the gallery in 1-02 Assiniboia Hall to see the work!

Included in repurposed is Kendra Cowley and Kateryna Barnes’ sonic map, Unsettling Colonial Mapping: Sonic-Spatial Representations of amiskwaciwâskahikan 

This project is supported by the Digital Rights Community Grant Program, a partnership between Digital Justice Lab, Tech Reset Canada and Centre for Digital Rights. This map is a sonic exploration and representation of the North Campus of the University of Alberta. Campus has a long history as Native Land, be it as a traditional meeting place for diverse Indigenous peoples (Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Dene, Saulteaux/Anishinaabe, Inuit, Haudenosaunee and many others) on the banks of the kisiskāciwani-sīpiy (North Saskatchewan River), as a Papaschase settlement, or as the homestead of Métis leader Laurent Garneau.  All of this was long before the University’s founding in 1908.

HUM 101

“It changed our way of thinking and gave us the opportunity to know more about women and about their strengths. I know now that my life is rich and nobody will treat me like I am less or weak. I am strong with this program.”

-HUM 101 graduate

Every year, the Community Service-Learning unit at the University of Alberta supports not-for-credit, off campus learning opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to higher education.20180615_092058

HUM 101 is offered twice a year for women at Wings of Providence, a second-stage women’s shelter. Each version of HUM 101 at Wings is organized around a separate theme. Themes have included “Radical Women,” “Home & Community,” “Women, Community, & Culture,” “Critical Media Literacy,” and “Rights of Passage.” Together with a coordinator and invited guests, HUM 101 students become a community of learners who explore ideas about the world around them.

In Winter 2018, femlab was thrilled to host 7 years: An Exhibition of Women’s Knowledge. The gallery was filled with poetry and prose created by HUM 101 students. Collectively, these works represent the knowledge of the many women who have graduated from the course.


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Angela Marino

By working in a collaborative effort with my mother, I am able to translate the journey of her illness and better understand her as she is now – Angela Marino

kim on couch

Confronting the Other; The Hybrid is a mixed media installation that offers emotionally intense portraits of a female figure undergoing a transformation from coherence to disarray.

Inspired by the artists’ experience of her mother’s encounter with severe and debilitating illness, the paintings depict a figure that multiplies, morphs, and at times seems to be engulfed by chaos. On the east wall, Kim is seated on an orange couch, surrounded by a vibrant and strangely unnerving cacophony of colorful forms.

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On the west wall are three circular portraits in which Angela’s mother, Kim. Her head floats in the middle of these medallion-like portraits; her gaze matches ours. Between the portraits is an oversized bench to encourage visitors to reflect on the impact of disease, the experience of loss, and the possibilities of building relationships.

Confronting the Other; The Hybrid runs from November 17, 2017 to March 23rd, 2018. Angela will present an artist talk, to be followed by a closing reception, at 3:00 pm on March 23rd. All are welcome to attend!

Angela Marino is from Hamilton, Ontario. She holds a BA in Studio Art and Art History from McMaster University and recently defended her MFA (Painting) at the University of Alberta. She works in acrylics and performance and is broadly interested in the way disease affects the human form. Her work is motivated by her relationship with her mother, who has Multiple Sclerosis.


Tashina Makokis

In our most recent show, Edmonton-based artist Tashina Makokis sets up a visual call-and-response between two very different kinds of paintings.


Tashina Makokis, The Cancer Paintings 2016-17

On the gallery’s east wall are brightly coloured portraits of familiar figures from Canadian history. Nellie McClung, George Simpson, Emily Murphy, Frank Oliver, John A McDonald, and Duncan Campbell Scott each pose sedately and calmly. Makokis’s painting is bright and bold; she represents the faces of their figures (oh, the eyes!) in captivating ways. But each of these portraits is disrupted by disconcerting blobs, tentacles, cancerous growths around the face. These scratchy patches, which are made from paint mixed with pumice, rise up from the canvases; they threaten to take over the faces of these so-called “great Canadians.” Makokis challenges their greatness and, instead, draws our attention toward the roles that these and so many celebrated historical figures have played in the reproduction of colonial settler violence.


Tashina Makokis, 2017

The west and north walls of the gallery hold three large landscape paintings, each representing not the land but the artist’s nude body. These erotic landscapes are set against ugly portraits in ways that call attention to the dynamic of a colonial gaze. These are celebratory paintings that insist upon the reclamation of indigenous bodies and lives.

Tashina Makokis is a nehiyaw iskwew from Saddle Lake Cree Nation. Her work in the gallery has been featured in an article in Canadian Art, and in this short film produced by Cree/Metis filmmaker and producer Coty Savard.


Nellie McClung 2017



Duncan Campbell Scott, 2017 (detail)

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In the slideshow: Tashina with a copy of Billy Ray Belcourt’s essay “Settler Structures of Bad Feeling,” in Canadian Art; Coty Savard with her crew in the gallery interviewing gallery director and curator Michelle Meagher; Michelle and Tashina fooling around in the gallery.

Buy prints of works from the Cancer Series here 

Within our bodies floating

“Picture some place where you feel safe. Some place you can go to feel good, to feel grounded, to save you from the memories” – Becky Thera

Becky Thera’s exhibition of new work in femlab is raw and suspenseful. The exhibition is both triumphant and troubling; it is a quiet display of loss and reclamation. In the secluded basement gallery in Assiniboia Hall, the viewer is greeted with a display of video screens and cloth prints.


The video screens depict women’s bodies in water. In three of the screens, these bodies move through water in ways that at first invoke a feeling of drowning and then make it apparent that they are still in control. On a fourth videoscreen, set off to the side,  another body lays in a pool of dark liquid in a bathtub. She barely appears to move and leaves the viewer anxious for something, anything, to happen. The embroidered images on on stained fabric panels are simple yet exuberant portraits of defiance. 

This is an exhibition that is full of contradictions: it is expressive and in-your-face, while also quiet and reflective. These contradictions within the gallery speak to the personal and political complexities of sexual assault, without actually mentioning it directly. This omission is poignant – here, as elsewhere, sexual assault remains nearly invisible despite its oppressing pervasiveness among us.

guest post by Lynsey Race, Gender and Social Justice Studies MA student.

The Virtual Feminist Bookstore

“Books leave gestures in the body; a certain way of moving, of turning, a certain closing of the eyes, a way of leaving, hesitations. Books leave certain sounds, a certain pacing; mostly they leave the elusive, which is all the story. They leave much more than the words.”
― Dionne Brand, A Map to the Door of No Return

The Virtual Feminist Bookstore, curated by Winnipeg-based artist and scholar Roewan Crowe, is an installation that includes a wall of video screens, digital textile work produced by Steven Leyden Cochrane called Bookstore Artifacts, a microphone, a framed poster of Angela Davis, and stacks of feminist periodicals borrowed from the Winnie Tomm Reading Room, which is housed in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta. Intended to elicit the feeling of the increasingly rare feminist bookstore, the installation draws visitors in to participate in the creation of a feminist poetry shelf.

The Virtual Feminist Bookstore is an installation and a happening waiting to happen; waiting for you, the visitor, to step into the imaginary space of the bookstore, to read and record a feminist poem that holds meaning for you. Step up to the microphone. Take a deep breath. Read the poem. Be present to its words, feel its energy.

Your poetry recitation will be added to the virtual feminist poetry shelf; your video recording will be added to the video monitors that, for now, await you.

The Virtual Feminist Bookstore: Screening Recitations, Bookstore Artifacts, and a Happening Waiting to Happen is on view and waiting for you at femlab until January 13th.

Sunaura Taylor


“I argue that for humans to stop treating animals as exploitable ‘things,’ we must actually continue to have relationships with them, relationships that are not shaped by ownership (pets), spectacle (zoos), or exploitation (eating them), but by interdependence…”
-Sunaura Taylor


Self portrait with Manatee, courtesy of Francis J. Greenburger Collection, New York

Sunaura Taylor is a painter, writer, and activist whose work emphasizes connections between disability politics and the rights of non-human animals.
On the gallery’s west wall are two self-portraits in which the artist highlights the relationship between her body and the body of non-human animals. Self-portrait with Moose and Self-portrait with Manatee ask that viewers look at bodies of animals and humans in ways that emphasize connection rather than difference.

20160628_090741The works in the gallery include 7 small paintings of animals that draw attention to the exploitation of non-human animals in factory farms. The factory farm paintings depict felled cows, culled chickens, and dead lambs.

In an altered artist book, Taylor places her own figure in the pages of a book about arctic animals. When visitors flip through the pages of the book, they find the human figure positioned in intimate and often vulnerable relation with polar bears and bison. The works demand that we move away from relationships based in exploitation and toward a recognition of our ethical responsibilities to recognize human and non-human interdependencies.

Taylor holds an MFA from the University of California at Berkeley and is a PhD student in American Studies at New York University. She is at work at a book titled Beasts of Burden, which explores the deep entanglements of disability and animal justice. By taking up a process that she calls “cripping animal ethics,” Taylor compels her readers and viewers to think deeply, sometimes uncomfortably, about what separates the human from the animal, what divides the disabled from the nondisabled, and what it might mean to break down these divisions.

Sunaura Taylor Selected Works 2008-2016 is curated by femlab’s gallery director, Michelle Meagher, with the assistance of Tashina Makokis in coordination with the Decolonizing Critical Animal Studies, Cripping Critical Animal Studies conference hosted at the University of Alberta June 21-23, 2016 and organized by Chloe Taylor and Kelly Struthers-Montford. Sunaura was a speaker at this conference, and her work was the topic of a plenary discussion by leading feminist disability scholar Alison Kafer.

20160622_171146 (3)We were thrilled to host, with CAS/CCAS, a reception with Kafer, Taylor, and other conference participants on June 22nd.  Check back here for news about a closing reception, tentatively scheduled for September 14th. For more information, why not visit the artist’s webpage,

Self Portrait With Moose and Self Portrait With Manatee appear courtesy the Francis J. Greenburger Collection, New York. All other works appear courtesy of the artist. Special thanks to Blair Brennan, FAB Gallery and to Natalie Loveless, HDVAC and the Research-Creation and Social Justice CoLABoratory.