Summer Institute 2020

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

Faculty: Tau Lewis

July 13 – 24, 2020

Summer Institute II: Water Knowledge

Faculty: KC Adams

August 17 – 28, 2020

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

Headshots of Tau Lewis and KC Adams
Tau Lewis. Image courtesy of the artist. KC Adams. Image credit Josh Grey.

Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art is now accepting applications for our 2020 Summer Institute I and II. 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.

Summer Institute II: Water Knowledge will be led by social practice artist KC Adams. In Anisninaabe teachings, women are water carriers and are taught Gage’gajiwaan; water flows forever and everywhere and all around. This residency is about passing on water knowledge bundles to better understand our relationship with water.  The first week Adams will lead the participants onto the land so they can receive knowledge bundles through elders, texts, walks, and workshops with Anishinaabe-Métis lawyer Aimée Craft.  The second week, participants will be encouraged to produce individual work based on the knowledge bundles they received. The residency is open to visual artists, writers, critics and scholars who identify as women and non-binary. The second session will run from August 17th to August 28th, 2020.

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.

KC Adams  is a Winnipeg-based artist who graduated from Concordia University with a B.F.A in studio arts. Adams has had several solo exhibitions, group exhibitions and been in three biennales including the PHOTOQUAI: Biennale des images du monde in Paris, France. Adams participated in residencies at the Banff Centre, the Confederation Art Centre in Charlottetown, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Parramatta Arts Gallery in Australia. Her work is in many permanent collections nationally and internationally. Twenty pieces from the Cyborg Hybrid series are in the permanent collection of the National Art Gallery in Ottawa and four trees from Birch Bark Ltd, are in the collection of the Canadian Consulate of Australia, NSW. She was the scenic designer for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation. She helped design a 30-foot public art sculpture called Niimama for the Winnipeg Forks and a piece for the United Way of Winnipeg called Community. Adams was awarded the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Making A Mark Award and Canada’s Senate 150 medal for her accomplishments with her Perception Photo Series.

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.

Applicants will be notified of their acceptance by the end of April 2020.

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

All applications should be sent to Nasrin Himada:

If you have any questions, please contact

Application Deadline: Monday, March 30, 2020 by 5pm CST

Application Deadline: Thursday, April 9, 2020 by 5pm CST

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.