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Mine the Gap riffs off Britain’s transit warning « Mind the Gap » referring to the gap between the train and the platform. The Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) uses it to refer to the generation gap between seniors and youth.

By mining this gap through creative exchange between seniors and youth, we are all enriched in a meaningful way! Mine the Gap was a monthly programming series developed by the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) that explored the potential for creative exchange and learning between older adults and youth in the Ottawa/Gatineau region. 

OAG’s Artwise—a group that creates OAG programming that promotes intergenerational engagement with the arts—teamed up with OAG’s Youth Council and co-created (with local senior and youth groups) a new series of monthly intergenerational activities at the Gallery from September 2018 through March 2019.

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Music and Portraits: Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The first event brought members of the PAL Ottawa Community, the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre, and visual arts students from Canterbury High School to the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Students and senior members of Ottawa’s Chinese community collaborated on creating dynamic works of Art. Traditional musical and dance performances were incorporated into interactive sketches.

Creativity provided a rich medium for communication between the generations, despite the language barriers.

Meditating on Art: Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Seniors with 4Churches and students of The Ottawa School of Art, as well as members of The Canadian Council of the Blind, participated in a tactile and interactive tour of The Ottawa Art Gallery’s exhibitions.

Through techniques of visual description, touch and physical embodiment, OAG staff invited individuals with low or no vision to experience and meditate on artworks in a new way.

The event highlighted the importance of inclusivity and accessibility within artistic practices and institutions.

Trading Stories: Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Members of L’Association des femmes immigrantes de l’Outaouais (AFIO) and students from L’Outaouais CEGEP, had the opportunity to cross the river to Ottawa and visit the Ottawa Art Gallery, perhaps for the first time. The Gallery tour focused on the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, the work of Egyptian/Canadian designer Karim Rashid, and Metis Acadian artist Eric Walker’s commissioned tactile work: Comment j’m’ai rendu icitte à Ottawa /How I came to Ottawa. 

Seniors and youth participated in a creative workshop inspired by Eric Walker’s practice that encouraged story-telling about their own immigration experiences. A communal lunch was an important part of this exchange.

Postcards from the Heart: Saturday, December 8, 2018

Tours in Arabic, English and French greeted seniors from the South Nepean Muslim Community; the Catholic Centre for Immigration; as well as families and youth from Refugee 613, at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Participants were encouraged to share their experiences with friends and family through the creation of exhibition-inspired postcards.

After a tasty communal meal, participants lined up to talk about their creations to rounds of enthusiastic applause.

Sankofa Drumming Circle for all Seven Generations: Saturday, January 19, 2019

An intergenerational exchange between Ottawa’s Indigenous and Black Communities was organized with the help of Young Leaders Advisory Council (YLAC). Elders from the respective communities opened the event with an Open Prayer and Libation Ceremony, bringing together a sense of mutual respect within a shared space.

The history and the power of Drums in Indigenous and African, Caribbean, and Black Culture were featured in an everwidened community drumming and storytelling circle with A7; Gen Cultural Arts Studio of Afro-Caribbean Dance; and Flo’s Seniors and Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM). Young and old learned the basics of drumming and the significance of preserving the tradition. We enjoyed cultural snacks and together sounds were recorded to create a collaborative community piece, reflective of our shared vibrations.

Queer Human Library: Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Queer Human Library had members from Ottawa Capital Pride’s Youth Council and members from the Ottawa Senior Pride Network come together as open books to the public.

This event happened during the first ever Winterpride, and folks were stationed throughout the Ottawa Art Gallery, sharing stories and answering questions about their lived experiences as members of the LGBTQ2S+ community. A broad cross-section of youth and seniors were included. Various members of the public interacted with presenters including CEGEP students and adult gallery-goers.

OAG is Open from 10 AM to 6 PM Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday | from 10 AM to 9 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Admission is always FREE.