Alchemy is an Ontario-based artist residency committed to fostering community engagement through the exploration and sharing of art, food and conversation. Attracting artists from Canada and throughout the world, its programming initiatives are led by artists Claire Tallarico and Tonia Di Risio.
Our new COVID era programming has deep roots stemming through what we learned in offering six traditional artist residencies and programming on the Toronto Islands and in rural Prince Edward County (PEC), Ontario between 2015 and 2019. Prior to the global pandemic, participating artists in a variety of mediums ranging from visual arts, sculpture, photography, craft, cooking, performance art, writing and video shared their work and practice in a communal setting. Readings and discussions probed the creative intersection of food and art. Guest talks and walks with local artists, chefs, winemakers and community members helped us better understand the magic and inspiration created by making and sharing art, food, and ideas in a community setting.
In 2020, in response to the first wave of COVID-19, Alchemy’s program shifted to a small group of volunteers and artists who made twice weekly suppers for seasonal farm and vineyard workers in PEC. The project called "Table Settings" recognized the vital contribution of labourers, most of whom come from outside of Canada, and all of whom play a vital role in this wine producing region.
In 2021, we continued to provide twice weekly meals to seasonal agricultural workers. We also invited eight individual artists to create site-specific installations accessible to the public in collaboration with local farms and vineyards. This exhibition called "Field Notes" was also part of the Culture Days Festival in the fall.
Learn more about our programming offerings for 2022 here:
While our programming and residency offerings will continue to be guided by the principles of collaboration and consensus, our governance will be through our new Board of Directors. Alchemy co-facilitators Claire Tallarico and Tonia Di Risio are excited and delighted to welcome Erin MacInnis to our newly constituted Board of Directors. Now a small and mighty board of three, Claire and Tonia continue in their long-time collaborative roles as conveners and facilitators of all things Alchemy, Erin’s business acumen is welcome as we look to expand the reach of Alchemy post-pandemic.
Alchemy founder and co-facilitator
A visual artist, trained cook, and
long time policy and communications advisor in the health and non profit arenas, Claire Tallarico's work explores the fertile ground between creative and culinary traditions and the sharing of food and dialogue through community engagement. Working with plants, textiles, and found objects, Claire documents what she grows, cooks, and forages through mono- printing, eco-dyeing, collage, and conversation.
Claire holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Concordia, studied
public policy and journalism at New York University, and graduated from George Brown with a culinary arts diploma. She has taught at both Humber and the University of Toronto. In 2021, Claire was accepted to a master's program at the Nova Scotia School of Art and Design, where her work explores questions of how community-based art practices can further connect to land, food sovereignty, and belonging.
A multimedia artist living and working in Southern Ontario, Tonia received a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Art History from the University of Toronto and Sheridan College, and a Master of Fine Art from the University of Windsor. She identifies as an artist, maker, coordinator, and collaborator. A practicing visual artist for over 25 years, Tonia has exhibited in galleries across Canada and has been awarded Canada Council, Nova Scotia, and Ontario arts grants. She is the co-facilitator of Alchemy and an active member of the Toronto artist collective, the Red Head Gallery.
Tonia is currently the Cultural Supervisor for the Town of Oakville, leading cultural programs for the municipality. As an arts administrator, she has also worked with artist-run centers, public art galleries, university art galleries and participated in panels and juries. In addition, she taught Time-Based Art and was the Gallery Director at Anna Leonowens Gallery, NSCAD University.
Erin currently works as the General Manager for Closson Chase Vineyards, one of Prince Edward County's oldest vineyards, established in 1998. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing the winery's human resources, sales, production, and agriculture business. Under Erin's leadership, Closson Chase was awarded Employer of the Year for 2020 by the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce.
A graduate of Loyalist College (Belleville, Ontario) Human Resources Management program, Erin spent her early career fine-tuning her business acumen in the hospitality industry. Erin has worked in management for several fine dining restaurants and event management for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts in Jasper, Alberta. Throughout her professional life, she has developed a passion for food, wine, and organizational management. Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Erin's life and work are immersed in the wine, food, and creative arts culture in Prince Edward County.
Alchemy Artists Residency acknowledges that we are on the traditional territory of Huron-Wendat, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples. These peoples
agreed to mutual sharing obligations and responsibilities as stewards of the
land and water. We recognize that these are now our shared obligations in
partnership, to continue to protect the land and water. As we talk about the
land, we honour the Indigenous ancestors who came before us and who
continue to be present in lands which we occupy. We acknowledge and
honour the First Nations who despite attempts of colonialism, continue to
hold and share their rich history, traditions, and cultures that are proud,
modern and vibrant. As we move forward, we hope that every time we get
together we acknowledge all those that have come before us.
Approved by Troy Maracle, Indigenous Education Lead for the HPEDSB
Dinner at Redtail Vineyards by Kirstyn Mayers summer 2020.
We gratefully acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, for our residency program in Prince Edward County from June - October 2022.