DesignTO Youth: touchbase
Jan 19
Mar 15 2024
DesignTO projectexhibition in-person

Exhibition is open Jan 19 to Feb 17:
Wednesdays: 12-2pm
Thursdays-Saturdays: 12-6pm

Exhibition is open Feb 18 to Mar 15:
Fridays: 12-6pm

‘DesignTO Youth: touchbase’ is a group exhibition featuring 10 young artists and designers. Inspired by a six-week workshop series, aimed at demystifying the creative process and dissecting artistic practice, these youth have created new work that reflects themes of identity, resilience, and cultural heritage.

Inspired by talks and workshops from wolari studio (Isabelle Ofume and Dana M), Jananda Lima, Zahra Siddiqui, Alita (Alexandra Gonzalez) and Whak&Mo, youth were prompted to consider the complex role of artists and designers in society and how critical thinking can be used to generate creative solutions.


Amaranna‘s dedication to her craft reflects her deep passion for storytelling through the lens. Her background in architecture and visual studies has uniquely shaped her artistic perspective, allowing her to craft captivating visual narratives that transcend mere aesthetics, consistently sparking wonder and evoking a spectrum of emotions in her viewers.

Monica Cheng is a writer and graphic designer based in Toronto. A self-taught artist, she enjoys capturing and creating beauty in the forms of photography, poetry, graphic design and product design. She derives artistic inspiration from her Taiwanese heritage and religious beliefs. Monica’s unique background involves relocating and immigrating across continents more than nine times during her school years. Her globalized living experience culminated in her graduation with an Honours in International Development from the University of Toronto Scarborough’s co-operative program. Her focus on humanitarian work has significantly shaped her cultural perspective and writing style, which is dedicated to capturing multi-dimensional, authentic stories that honour the autonomy, diversity and dignity of the communities she engages with.

Kimberly Hoang is a Vietnamese-American multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto. She graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Art’s high school program with a visual arts concentration, followed by studies in game design at Pratt Institute, and is currently pursuing animation at Seneca College. While her creative practice spans from traditional to new media, a special affinity for painting remains. She ultimately aspires to create artwork that not only amplifies and humanizes marginalized communities, but also has the potential to deeply touch anyone and inspire future generations.

Jennifer Huynh is a visual designer who recently graduated from York University’s Bachelor of Design program. Her passions lie in crafting art and design into creative concepts that burst with bold and vibrant visuals, infusing a sense of playfulness and engagement. She perceives the world through the kaleidoscopic lens of technicolour and abstract forms. Jennifer aspires to bridge the realm of art and design, where the message conveyed is the function, as she uses art as a language for design.

Maryam Mohamed is a multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto working with textiles, digital art, painting and other mediums. Her artwork tells stories of how the history of indenture continues to impact the Indo-Caribbean community. Through the use of both traditional and new media, she explores unique ways of healing from generational trauma and reclaiming an ancestral culture she yearns to reconnect with. Maryam graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University’s New Media program in 2023 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Minor in History. She has worked and volunteered with organizations including Art Starts and the Women’s Art Association of Canada, and exhibited several recent works at Northern Contemporary Gallery in 2023.

Wishah Qaisar is a multidisciplinary graphic designer and creative based in Toronto. She expresses herself through painting, writing, drawing, fashion and music. She uses art and design to understand and observe the world around her. Her purpose is rooted in visually telling stories of where we came from and where we’re going next. As a young Muslim woman, her experiences have shaped her perspective, allowing her to channel her unique viewpoint into a powerful force for good.

Anella Schabler is a queer, biracial artist currently in the visual studies undergraduate program at the University of Toronto, with the intention of pursuing fine arts as their career and lifelong passion. They enjoy exploring little details and intimate moments and value parts of everyday life, childhood, emotion, identity and sensitivity in their work. Through a multitude of mediums, most notably in painting, sculpture and textiles, they immerse themselves in reflection through documentation accompanied by the experience of living. They believe that cherishing memories, good and bad, creates compassion for the future and ourselves, especially rooted in cultural pride and self expression.

Benjamin Valles is a student at the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business. Despite his background in graphic and user experience, Benjamin is passionate about the intersection of sociology and art, examining how design can be utilized for public interest through urban, industrial, and systems design engineering. Most recently, Ben has been working as a fashion stylist for local Toronto artists within the Asian music community, and is working on getting over the imposter syndrome that comes with being a creative.

Jasmine Vanstone is a Jamaican-Canadian multidisciplinary artist, facilitator and administrator with hopes to inspire, impact and amplify marginalized voices through community engagement and arts education. Through her artistic practice, she experiments in various mediums – primarily digital collage, painting, murals, and paper crafts – to share visual reflections of racism, identity and wellness.

Elvin Velasco is a 1.5 generation Filipinx-Canadian migrated and settled in Scarborough and spiritually rooted in Baguio and Tarlac City. They are a queer, non-binary, interdisciplinary artpreneur and storyteller passionate in engaging their creative processes of drawing, collaging, poetry and photography through active and participatory storytelling invitations with the focus on inner child healing and honouring.

‘DesignTO Youth: touchbase’ is organized by DesignTO in partnership with JAYU, and supported by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, Government of Ontario and Entro. Collision Gallery provided by QuadReal. Beverages provided by Geez Louise and Proxies.

DesignTO is a non-profit arts organization that brings people together to design a better future, one that is more sustainable, just, and joyful. We curate exhibitions, presentations and educational programming to increase the public’s knowledge and appreciation of design.


Amaranna, Monica Cheng, Kimberly Hoang, Jennifer Huynh, Maryam Mohamed, Wishah Qaisar, Anella Schabler, Benjamin Valles, Jasmine Vanstone, Elvin Velasco



Who should visitors contact with questions regarding accessibility?
Robyn Wilcox
For projects with printed information, will it be available in large-format and/or Braille?
Large-format exhibition description and artwork wall labels available.
Is this venue accessible by wheelchair or similar mobility devices? This includes access to washrooms and all aspects of programming/events.
Can people get to the venue using accessible transit?
A black and white photo of a figure captured in motion, whose lips are zipped shut.
'Shh !!' by Amaranna
A mixed media collage featuring elements that draw inspiration from Caribbean culture.
'Coolie' by Jasmine Vanstone