Canadian Spirit 2015: With a Destiny | VSVSVS Symbology

VSVSVS: Symbology

For a journalist, it is important to communicate information and ideas through the efficient use of words and phrases; telling stories with substance and style to keep readers wanting more. An artist as well is a storyteller.  He or she communicates ideas and information through their own approach to art making. What happens, then, when seven artists come together to tell a story?

Artist’s Statement

In celebration of Canadian Spirit 2015: With A Destiny public art project, the ambitious seven-person Toronto based artist collective, VSVSVS (pronounced versus, versus, versus) has transformed The Sun Times Building in Owen Sound into one colourful conversation. The Collective has created a series of seven bold art banners entitled Symbology documenting an instinctive, individual and personal exchange of hand drawn symbols between each artist, building a story through symbols. “It all started out as a drawing game” states VSVSVS, “where one person would draw a symbol and the next person would draw a symbol that responds in some way to the first.  The thread would mutate between each symbol, and it functioned like a graphic conversation.  Over time, the visual language developed and we really enjoyed the way we could communicate and reinterpret each other’s ideas through non-linguistic means. This notion, finding new ways to communicate, seems especially fitting to celebrating contemporary Canadian culture, which is essentially forming community across difference. We see it as a celebration of multiplicity and language, and hope to bring some bright colour to the downtown of Owen Sound highlighting an integral communication centre to the community: The Sun Times.”

The TOM truly believes that some of the best storytellers in world are artists. By using colour, line, gesture, composition and imagery, artists have the ability to convey compelling narratives. Art can take us to that familiar place or an unknown world; it can challenge us, inspire us, and test our perception as viewers.  Stories are, after all, how we make sense of the world and visual art tells some of the greatest stories of all. 

Curated by Heather Hughes, Curator of Temporary Exhibitions

Tom Thomson Art Gallery


VSVSVS is a seven-person collective and artist-run centre based out of a warehouse in the Port Lands of Toronto, Ontario. Formed in 2010, the Collective’s activities encompass collaborative art making, a residency program, a formal exhibition space and individual studio practices. The Collective focuses on the collaborative production of multiples, drawings, video works, sculptures, installations, and performances. An open framework allows each artist to play to his or her own interests and ends, while contributing to a common goal. They describe their process as “working with seven heads is an experiment in being together too much and making things constantly.” Current collective members include: Anthony Cooper, James Gardner, Laura Simon, Miles Stemp, Ryan Clayton, Stephen McLeod and Wallis Cheung. To see more work by VSVSVS, visit their website:

The TOM gratefully acknowledges the support of the 2015 Exhibition Sponsor & Project Partner:

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