Art Festivals to Check out This Season

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SPOTLIGHT by Alex MacLeod. 

Contact Photography Festival

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Contact Photography Festival, a renowned event that will feature the work of 1,500 artists and photographers via more than 200 exhibits. Given the sheer number of artists and events in this year’s festival, there a few themes you can expect to see, including people and the evolution of culture and community.

Though it may seem like a more modern art form, tattooing has actually played a significant role in the progression of art and culture, particularly among indigenous and tribal peoples. For more than 5,000 years, tattoos have served as a form of expression for religious beliefs, creativity, individuality, social status, familial bonds and community.

The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga is a photography exhibition by Jake Verzosa, which has been featured this year as part of Contact. The collection documents the tradition of tattooing among Kalinga woman who live in villages in the northern region of the Philippines.


Fang-od Oggay by Jake Verzosa.

For the tattooed women of Kalinga, the intricate designs that cover their bodies represent virtues like “beauty, wealth, stature, and fortitude,” according to the exhibition brief. They also represent the strong appreciation villagers have for nature. Sadly, this tradition is dying out as the last remaining master of this inking technique, Fang-od Oggay (pictured above), is quickly approaching her 100th birthday.

Verzosa’s stunning efforts to showcase this tradition, is yet another example of how tattooing has played a crucial role in how people express their creativity, values and individuality.

Many of the Contact Festival exhibits will be running well into the autumn, including Verzosa’s exhibit which will be at the ROM until September 2nd.


Unsound by David Leyes.

Luminato Festival

For the last 10 years, the Luminato Festival has fostered the coming together of people, art and creativity. The purpose of the festival is to give people a chance to explore and connect with their own creativity through various art forms and share their creative selves with others to build a more synchronous community. Luminato events and exhibits will give festival goers a chance to interact with different types of media like traditional visual art forms, theater, music, literature and digital art forms.

It’s exciting to see a spotlight focused on individual creativity that encourages people to dig deep into their personal histories to indulge creative self-exploration. As the culture around tattooing evolves and is influenced by festivals like the Luminato, we expect to see more people turn to tattoos as a way to explore their innate creativity by blending and fusing art styles as we’ve already started to see with rise the of the geometric and minimalist movements.


Situation Rooms photographed by Jorg Baumann.

The Luminato Festival, which will once again take up residency at the Hearn, will span 17 days from June 9th -26th.

Tickets for any of the events can be purchased from their website or by calling into the box office at 416-368-4849.