Elyse Portal


Elyse Portal’s creative research is situated within intimacies generated between material research and place-based exchanges. Drawings, sound, sculpture, and video, in Materia medica (No Vacancy, Supernova, 2015 – upcoming; Black Cat ARTSPACE, 2015; UTAC, 2014) confront solastalgia, a term coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht, which means the “homesickness you have when you are still at home.” Here, beauty is (re)discovered within the micro-processes of found colour, through dye experiments with local plants collected in the GTA, juxtaposed to downtown Toronto traffic outside her studio window.

For over a decade, Portal has exhibited work as an artist and curator, including: (re)member of water (GNO, 2015); Materia medica (No Vacancy, Supernova, 2015); Black Cat ARTSPACE, 2015; University of Toronto Art Centre, 2014); Journey into Fantasy (McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 2015); claybank (Whippersnapper 2014; University of Victoria, 2012); urbeing (Xchanges Gallery, 2012); Mark Laver: Shining Examples (Legacy Art Gallery, 2012);aline (Upstairs Gallery, 2012); Greenish (Open Space Arts Society, 2011); Species-at-Risk (Ministry of Casual Living, 2011); listening arms (Mary & Moses Sculpture Garden, 2011); advanced life support unit (Upstairs Gallery, 2011); Taché (Audain Gallery, 2010); Real Eyes (Online, 2007-09); Elements (Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, 2008); Lost & Found (Javaroma, 2006); Flower of Life (Somba K’e Public Art, 2004); Reclaimed (Old Town Glassworks, 2004).



2014      Master of Visual Studies, University of Toronto
2012      Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Victoria

Selected Personal Exhibition History

2019      Plant Goddesses Climate Crisis Nonhuman Solidarity, Burren College of Art, Ireland
2019      hyperobjects / claybank, Nuit Blanche McEwen School of Architecture, Sudbury, ON
2018      claybank (Eco|Femin|Isms), curated by Vicki Clough, The White House Studio Project, Toronto,ON
2017      stars pour through, ee portal, 7a*11D as part of 7a*md8, Nuit Blanche McEwen School of Architecture, Sudbury, ON
2017      Materia medica, Decelerated dialogues, York University, ON
2017      3 ways of working with plants, ee portal, WKP Kennedy Gallery as part of the multi-arts festival, North Bay, ON
2016      handmade fire, ee portal, G Amani’s Garden Skool, SAVAC, Toronto, ON
2016      daylighting, Reconstructing Resilience Symposium, OCADU, Toronto, ON
2015      (re)member of water, ee portal, Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario, Sudbury, ON
2015      buried waters, Quest Art Gallery, Midland, ON
2015      microhabitat/self-deception, ee portal, Supernova, Burlington, Toronto, ON
2015      Journey into Fantasy, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, ON

2015      Materia medica (jars video), No Vacancy, ON
2015      Materia medica (jars video), Black Cat ARTSPACE, ON
2014      Materia medica, University of Toronto Art Centre, ON
2014      clay bank, Sidewalk Screening, Whippersnapper, Toronto, ON
2013      Juglans manos, GNO, Sudbury, ON
2013      who is this land am i, University of Toronto, ON
2013      friction, University of Toronto, ON
2012      urbeing, Xchanges Gallery, Victoria, BC
2012      clay bank, University of Victoria, BC
2012      nature sitting, Jamie Cassels Research Fair, Victoria, BC
2012      aline, Upstairs Gallery, Victoria, BC
2011      Species-at-Risk, Ministry of Casual Living, Victoria, BC
2011      listening arms, Moses & Mary’s Sculpture Garden, Victoria, BC
2011      advanced life support unit, Upstairs Gallery, Victoria, BC
2011      Opposites Attract, Open Space, Victoria, BC
2010      Taché, Audain Gallery, University of Victoria, BC
2009      Burning, Superior on Superior, Victoria, BC
2008      Elements, Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, Yellowknife, NT
2006      Lost & Found, Javaroma, Yellowknife, NT
2004      Flower of Life Mural, Somba K’e Public Art, Yellowknife, NT
2004      Reclaimed, Old Town Glassworks, Yellowknife, NT

Awards & Grants

2014      Master of Visual Studies Graduating Scholarship
2013-14      Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Award
2012-13      University of Toronto Fellowship
2011-12      Jamie Cassels Research Award
2011      Dr Lorene Kennedy Environmental Studies Bursary
2011      Fine Art Festival Bursary
2011      Eco-System Bursary
2011      Pat Martin Bates Scholarship
2009-11      University of Victoria, President’s Award for Academic Merit
2009      Royal Bank Scholarship, Gold Winner for Art Innovation
2009      The Tenline Sales Material Award, Academic Excellence
2007      NWT Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant
2005      Canadian Culture Online, Canadian Heritage


2014      “Portals,” in Emergency Index: an annual document of performance practice, vol. 3, ed. Yelena Gluzman (Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2014) 164-165.
2014      Julia Abraham, review of “Materia medica,” by Elyse Portal, MVS Programme (2014): 24-27.
2007      Marybelle Mitchell, review of Real Eyes in “Website Features Artists,” Inuit Art Quarterly 22, no. 1 (spring 2007): 43.


2015      Political/Personal: Art and the Residential School System in Canada, Canadian Art and Culture (year 4: Humanities) York University, Toronto, ON
2014      Contemporary Alchemy (year 4: Painting) OCADU, Toronto, ON
2013      Visual Studies: Site Installation (year 3: Sculpture) University of Toronto, ON
2013-14      Visual Strategies: Enhanced Tutorial (year 1: Art Theory) University of Toronto, ON
2011      Foundation (year 1: Studio) Camosun College, Victoria, BC

Curatorial Experience

2015      Curator, Journey into Fantasy, Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage, York University & the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, ON
2012      Curator, In the Moment, Legacy Art Gallery, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC
2011-12      Curatorial, Archives and Collections Assistant, Mark Laver: Shining Examples, Transformation: A Retrospective, The Art of Jack Wise, Legacy Art Gallery, University of Victoria, BC
2011      Curatorial Assistant, Greenw**sh, Open Space Arts Society, Victoria, BC
2005-07      Online Curator, Real Eyes, Canadian Heritage & Centre for Northern Families, Yellowknife, NT


2015      Victoria Dickenson and Elyse Portal, “An Unparalleled Collection: Revitalizing Cape Dorset’s Creative Cultural Legacy,” McMichael Magazine, no. 2 (winter 2015)
2011      “Greenw**sh: Nurturing Compost in Contemporary Crisis,” and “The Café Series,” in Greenw**sh, eds. Chelsea Rushton, Helen Marzolf and Nola Russell (Victoria: Open Space Arts Society, 2011), 43-73.
2006      “The Words of Our Elder Elizabeth Mackenzie,” Indigenous Woman 6, no.1 (spring/summer 2006) 25-27.


2014      Instructor, Visual Strategies, Visual Studies, University of Toronto, ON
2013      Teaching Assistant, Environmental Studies, School of the Environment,
University of Toronto, ON
2012      Teaching Assistant, Visual Concepts, Visual Studies, University of Toronto, ON
2007-08      Instructor, Visual Arts, Mildred Hall School, Yellowknife, NT

Selected Professional Activities

2014-15      Research Assistant, Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage, York University, ON
2014      Research Assistant, Environmental Sustainability Actions Within Spiritual Organizations,
Dr. J. Moyer, School of the Environment, University of Toronto, ON
2011      Hiring Committee for Tenure Faculty, Department of Visual Arts, University of Victoria, BC
2009-11      Ceramic Studio Technician, Department of Art Education, University of Victoria, BC