Summer Institute 2020

CANCELLED | Summer Institute I: SPARKLE PLANET: We have lift-off!

Due to the challenging circumstance surrounding COVID-19,  Summer Institute I has been cancelled and we are no longer accepting applications. 

Faculty: Tau Lewis

July 13 – 24, 2020

Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art | 1, 460 Portage Ave | Winnipeg MB | Canada

Assemblage of a person sitting in a chair in front of a constructed map.
Tau Lewis, "Sparkle" and "Sparkle's Map Home" (2018). Image courtesy of the artist.

The Summer Institute is an international artist research program for professional artists and cultural workers in all disciplines and media.

Summer Institute I: SPARKLE PLANET: We have lift-off! will be led by Toronto-based artist Tau Lewis, and will run from July 13 to 24, 2020.  Participants will build and create with a focus on non-traditional methods of physical and conceptual construction. There will be a strong emphasis on story-telling and the imaginary. Over the course of the residency, participants will be introduced to several “outsider,” self-taught and “vernacular” practices, and will ponder the intersections of craft and fine art, as well as question who has access to art/ art-making, and what sorts of objects can exist as artworks. Participants will also learn how/why outsider practices have existed, and how they historically have leant themselves to the contemporary art world.

Tau Lewis‘ self-taught practice is rooted in healing personal, collective and historical traumas through labour. She employs methods of construction such as hand sewing, carving and assemblage to build portraits. She considers spaces of erasure, what they might hold, and how we can re-access these spaces as generative information centres through storytelling and imagination. Her work is bodily and organic, with an explicit strangeness. The materiality of Lewis’ work is often informed by her surrounding environment; she constructs out of found objects and recycled materials. She connects these acts of repurposing, collecting and archiving with diasporic experience. Her portraits are recuperative gestures that explore agency, memory and recovery. Recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions include: Frieze New York; Atlanta Contemporary; Jeffrey Stark, NY; Shoot the Lobster, NY; Night Gallery, LA; The Hepworth Wakefield, UK; Oakville Galleries, Toronto; Art Basel Miami; COOPER COLE, Toronto. Recent and forthcoming group exhibitions include: MoMa PS1, New York; Chapter Gallery, New York; COOPER COLE, Toronto; Night Gallery, LA; New Museum, New York; Hammer Museum, LA.

The 2020 Summer Institutes are open to visual artists, curators, writers, critics and scholars.

A number of guest speakers will visit the Summer Institutes for additional lectures, discussions, and studio visits.

Plug In ICA invites applications from participants who will work collaboratively in a peer-to-peer environment based upon their own interests and projects, as well as by exploring and aligning their work with collaborative or group activities which will be planned during the session.

This critical discursive opportunity will take place in Plug In ICA’s purpose-built facilities, with an adjoining workshop, art research library, gallery, bookshop and neighbouring café. Plug In ICA is located in the heart of downtown Winnipeg on the University of Winnipeg’s campus and adjacent to the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and within walking distance to various amenities for new visitors to the city.

There is no application fee for this program and everyone is welcome to apply. All other costs associated with participating in this program is the participant’s responsibility: meals, accommodation, travel, travel insurance, materials and related production costs. Once accepted, participants must also be Plug In ICA members in good standing for a fee of $30 CDN.

See our Summer Institute Blog for interviews, and images of past Institutes.

If you have any questions, please contact

Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art recognizes we are in the territories of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Dakota, Dene, Métis, and Oji-Cree Nations. Plug In ICA is situated in Treaty 1 territory, the ancestral and traditional homeland of Anishinaabeg peoples. Treaty 1 was signed in 1871, taking this territory from seven local Anishinaabeg First Nations in order to make the land available for settler use and ownership (Referenced from the University of Winnipeg).

Plug In ICA extends gratitude to our artists, generous donors, valued members and dedicated volunteers, with special thanks to our Director’s Circle.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council. We could not operate without their continued financial investment and lobbying efforts.

Plug In ICA relies on community support to remain free and accessible to all, and enables us to continue to present excellent programs. Please consider becoming a member of Plug In ICA and a donor here or by contacting Angela Forget:

For more information on exhibitions and public programs contact Nasrin Himada at

For general information please contact: or call 1.204.942.1043.