Shaya Ishaq

The origins of poetry are rooted in the Greek term, poiesis: “to make,” suggesting that language is material and poetry is craft. In [title pending], Shaya Ishaq explores these haptic origins of poetry through her textile-based practice. The project emerged from a winter of being immersed in a collection of books by Toronto-based Black poets. Relating the lines of poetry on a page to the warp and weft of the loom, Shaya uses a body mapping exercise to create an affective map and self-portrait. Body-mapping is an arts educational tool for interpreting and understanding artwork through the physical sensation they compel. In [title pending], the method is used to construct an intimate cartography in fiber made of cotton yarn that traces where the poetry of Dionne Brand, Aisha Sahsa John, and Victoria Mbabazi has touched Shaya’s body. The colours blue, red, and yellow are inspired by Brand's A Blue Clerk, John’s I have to live., and Mbabazi’s chapbook. On the verso, Shaya’s written response to each of these poets moves between free verse, confession, and intimate conversations. The work presented as a whole becomes a portrait of the artist informed by the language of Black Toronto poets. Measuring the artists’ height, [title pending] is a wall scroll as much as it is a book of dialogues. Simultaneous conversations between poets and the artist, text and textile, the somatic and semiotic, portrait and cartography are held in the woven matrices of [title pending]. 

Commissioned by Gallery TPW. 

Designed by Emmie Tsumura 

 [title pending] can be purchased for $20. 



Flooded Phong Phu_April 3, 2023.webp

Still from a video of flooding in Phong Phú, Ho Chi Minh City, on April 3, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist.


Publication Launch 

Thursday, September 29th, 6:00PM 

Location: Gallery TPW 


Shaya Ishaq is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and writer whose research interests are engaged in craft, diaspora, design anthropology, and (afro)futurism. Devoted to materiality, she works with textiles and clay to create wearable art, jewellery, and installations. She is interested in the liminality of rites of passages and explores this through meditative processes such as weaving, felting, and hand built ceramics. Her design palette extends to furniture, objects, and spaces which allows her work to live at the junction of community engagement and creative practice.