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Meandering in Three Acts

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 this limited edition artist book, Meandering in Three Acts, 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, Ishaq uses a body mapping exercise to create an affective map and self-portrait. Body-mapping is an arts educational tool for interpreting art through the physical sensation the work compels. In Meandering in Three Acts, the method is used to construct an intimate cartography in fiber made of cotton yarn that traces where the poetry of Dionne Brand, Aisha Sasha 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 books of poetry moves between free verse, confession, and intimate conversations.


The work presented as a whole is a portrait of the artist informed by the language of Black Toronto poets. Measuring the artists’ height, Meandering in Three Acts is a wall scroll as much as it is a book of dialogues. 

Meandering in Three Acts can be purchased for $20 at Gallery TPW. 

Designed by Emmie Tsumura.


Documentation by Michael Fawcett.



Publication launch with artist talk

Thursday, February 2, 6-8pm 

Join us in-person at Gallery TPW to launch, Meandering in Three Acts, with light snacks and beverages. The launch includes an artist talk with Shaya Ishaq at 7pm. 


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. 


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