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Surface Tension

Deadline: September 21, 2018

Surface Tension is a provocation to explore the forces at work on water, both real and conceptual. It considers water’s many dualities: the simultaneous fear and attraction that it inspires, its ubiquity and scarcity, containability and formlessness, as well as its generative and destructive capabilities. This tendency for water to be both, instead of either/or, creates a tension within the idea of water.

Exploring the theme of water from material, aesthetic, cultural, political, poetic, and ecological perspectives, Surface Tension seeks to engage a range of topics integral to thinking about water in its broadest senses. These include climate change, survival, access, beauty, depth, gravity, networks, infrastructure, and more. The exhibition asks how the attributes of, and tensions within, water manifest within contemporary culture as both a physical substance and salient topic.

Call for submissions

We invite submissions from artists and designers working in all mediums and formats. We are open to projects expressed in 2- or 3-dimensions, digital or analog, whether they be object- or concept-based.

Submissions of existing work or realized projects are preferred; however, we will consider submissions of speculative  work and projects that have not yet been realized.

Work and projects will be exhibited during the Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO), January 18-27, 2019.

All submissions must include the following:

  1. A description of the project or work (max. 300 words) — please be sure to  include the following details: title, materials/format, dimensions, year;
  2. a short bio on you and/or your creative practice (max. 150 words);
  3. 1-3 images of the project or work (max. 1MB per image); and
  4. Your
    1. contact info (name, email, phone number, mailing address),
    2. CV, and
    3. website URL (if available).

Click here to submit


All submissions are due Friday, September 21, 2018 by 11:59pm EST.

How much does it cost?

There is no fee for this submission or for participating in the Thematic Exhibition. However, if selected, you will be responsible for arranging drop-off and pick-up of your work to Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto. Artist’s fees will be paid to artists selected for the exhibition.

When and where is the exhibition?

The exhibition will open Friday, January 18 and run until Sunday, March 3, 2019. An opening reception will be held during Festival Week (date to be announced). The exhibition and reception will be held at the Artport Gallery, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto. We reserve the right to modify dates if required.

What happens next?

Successful submissions will be notified by email by October 22, 2018.


Email any questions to Programs Manager Robyn Wilcox at [email protected] with this subject line: Thematic Exhibition + your name.

Going into its fifth year, the thematic exhibition is a signature program of the annual Toronto Design Offsite Festival, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing design culture. This exhibition is co-presented with Harbourfront Centre.

Image credit: Detail of ‘Waves’ by Tania Love

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