About

SyrusMarcusWare-1464                                                                                                                                                                     Photo credit: Zoë Gemelli

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier Scholar, a visual artist, community activist, researcher, youth-advocate and educator. For 12 years, he was the Coordinator of the Art Gallery of Ontario Youth Program. Syrus is currently a facilitator/designer for the Cultural Leaders Lab (Toronto Arts Council & The Banff Centre). He is the inaugural artist-in-residence for Daniels Spectrum (2016/2017). Syrus is also a core-team member of Black Lives Matter Toronto.

As a visual artist, Syrus works within the mediums of painting, installation and performance to challenge systemic oppression.  Syrus’ work explores the spaces between and around identities; acting as provocations to our understandings of gender, sexuality and race.   His work has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Windsor, the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Art Gallery of York University (AGYU), Gladstone Hotel, ASpace Gallery, Harbourfront Centre, SPIN Gallery and other galleries across Canada.  His work has been reproduced in FUSE Magazine, The Globe and Mail, THIS Magazine, Blackness and Sexualities amongst others. His work has also been included in several academic journals including Small Axe and Women and Environment International.

In addition to the Church Street Mural Project (2013), Syrus curated That’s So Gay: On the
Edge (2014) at the Gladstone Hotel and Re:Purpose at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (2014). He is part of the PDA (Performance Disability Art) Collective with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and co-programmed Crip Your World: An Intergalactic Queer/POC Sick and Disabled Extravaganza as part of Mayworks, 2014. Syrus is part of the Black Triangle Arts Collective (BTAC), a visual arts collective dedicated to exploring disability, racial and economic justice.

In 2005, Syrus was voted “Best Queer Activist” by Now Magazine, and in 2012 he was awarded the Steinert and Ferreiro Award for LGBT community leadership and activism, the largest award of its kind in Canada.  In addition to sitting on several arts council juries, Syrus was part of the Canadian Jury for the Inside Out LGBT Film and Video Festival in Toronto in 2013, the Intergenerational LGBTQ Artist Residency Jury in 2015 and the Ontario Public Service exhibition jury for “Queer Landscapes, Queer Journeys: Reflections of LGBTQ rights and struggles in Ontario today” in 2015.

Syrus’ chapter in Who’s Your Daddy?: And Other Writings on Queer Parenting (Sumach Press, 2008) entitled, “Going Boldly Where Few Men Have Gone Before: One Trans Man’s Experience of Fertility Clinics” and his co-authored chapter, “How Disability Studies Stays White and What Kind of White it Stays” are part of curricula at several colleges and universities. He co-edited a book chapter (with Zack Marshall) about disability, Deaf culture and trans identities in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves (2013) and coauthored “It Cannot be Fixed Because Is Isn’t Broken” in Disability Incarcerated (2014), a chapter about the experiences of disability, racism and the Prison Industrial Complex. He is the author of Love is in the Hair, part of Flamingo Rampant’s 2015 book series.

For 12 years, Syrus has worked with Blackness Yes! to produce Blockorama (the black queer and trans stage at Pride), and other related events throughout the year. Syrus is also a founding member of the Prison Justice Action Committee of Toronto. For 17 years, Syrus hosted the weekly radio segment, “Resistance on the Sound Dial” on CIUT 89.5FM.  Syrus is a past program committee member for Mayworks Festival, and is a past board member of the FUSE magazine. He is a founding member of the Transparent-cy Working Group at The 519 Community Centre. He helped to initiate the Trans-Fathers 2B course- the first course for trans men considering parenting in North America. Syrus is also a member of the Gay/Bi Trans Men’s HIV Prevention Working Group for the Ontario AIDS Bureau and one of the creators of “Primed: A Back Pocket Guide for Trans Guys and the Guys Who Dig ‘Em”.

Syrus holds degrees in Art History, Visual Studies and a Masters in Sociology and Equity Studies, University of Toronto. Syrus is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.

8 Comments »

  1. Hi Syrus,

    How are you. I miss you a lot always thinking of you and the knowledge you impacted on me in Community Development – George Brown College each time I want to write a proposal.

    I saw you talking about Black lives Matters few minutes ago in the TV I decided to google your name. Luckily I saw your name.

    Please it will be a pleasure if you can reply.

    Thanks

    Dorothy A.

  2. Hi Syrus,
    First off, thank you for all the work that you do as an independent artist and with Black Lives Matter. I saw you speak at OCAD last year and shared your stories of the integral nature of the arts in your activism with a group of racialized youth I’m working with in Boston (and will shortly share it with youth in Toronto) for a program I run called Youth Artists for Justice. The youth in Boston were really moved and inspired by stories of how BLM-TO has resisted using so many creative tactics. The program looks at and engages in youth participation and the arts in social resistance. It is also connected to my doctoral research at OISE.

    I’d love it if you or another of the artists working with BLM would be willing to come speak to my group in Toronto (connected by Skype simultaneously so the youth from Boston can also learn from you all). I’m able to offer an honorarium (I actually got a grant, so I can pay the youth minimum wage to do the program!!!). In Boston, the group will be putting together a performance piece based on their own experiences and interviews with community members on the issues of stereotypes of youth of colour. The Toronto group is about to start meeting and will choose their topic in the coming weeks. The youth choose a target audience to perform for and then will conduct interviews with audiences as part of a project to enact change.

    Also, would it be all right if I used a quote from the OCAD speaker series in a publication I’m writing? It’s the statement that I shared with the youth as well: “BLM TO is actively blurring the lines between direct activism and artistic practice. We are rooted in freedom fighter artists worldwide and throughout the centuries”. It’s for a piece in a Critical Questions in Education Special Issues on Uncovering Youth Spaces: Activist Voices, Productive, Materialist Methodologies, and Social Inquiry.

    In solidarity,
    Rachel

  3. Hey there,
    Always inspiring to read through your site.
    I’m not sure how to contact you personally so here I am:
    I’ve completed a series of portraits on queer identity and broken relationships.
    Where could I go to showcase this? – I think it is very good.

    DJ

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