Thea Jones AiR e-portfolio

Program Coordinator, Charlie’s FreeWheels, Toronto ON

Charlie’s FreeWheels is a not-for-profit organization in Toronto that teaches youth in Regent Park & Moss Park how to build bikes (among many other things). In their own words, they are “on a mission to inspire a spirit of exploration in the youth we serve. We use bicycles to mobilize, empower and engage young people.” When I started working at Charlie’s it was to develop their Advocacy program and to introduce more social change and social justice aspects into their curriculum. This started with the Charlie’s Youth Advocates program, which is the video above. These youth spent a year: 1) building bikes, 2) learning about what agency, advocacy, activism and art are, 3) how to be leaders, 4) creating and developing their own workshop to teach younger kids, 5) executing a MINI build-a-bike where they taught younger kids how to build bikes, peer-to-peer learning, 6) their final project was to go to local elementary school and conduct a Bike Safety and Awareness Workshop.

I also initiated a Girls & Trans Youth Build-a-Bike course as a way to create a safe space for these youth that may feel ostracized from a male/boy dominated bike mechanic community. Our work was reported on by the Toronto Star click here.

At Charlie’s is where I was exposed to Safe Space and began developing its practice more fully into all aspects of the organization, from curriculum, to peer-to-peer conduct, to teaching philosophies. One of the main parts of safe space that was practiced at Charlie’s was a hands-off teaching philosophy. This means that all students must complete their own work, while this may be difficult for them it ultimately creates empowerment, confidence and pride in their bike. Hands-off teaching, in this context, also means that teachers and volunteers never take a tool out of the hands of a student or enter the workspace of a student, coming in between the student and their bike. Any of these actions can be very dis-empowering.

Click here for more information about the work I have done at Charlie’s FreeWheels.

Artist Mentor, Workman Arts, Toronto ON
addition images

I worked as an Artist’s Mentor to a group of three artists, members of Workman Arts, to create a video installation as part of the film festival Rendezvous with Madness and a symposium TRANSFIXED: TV AND ADDICTION. This exhibition ran 24-7 and was housed in a storefront display on CAMH property. As the artist mentor it was my job to lead the group through their ideas, the creation process and into executing the final installation. This show contained 20 TV that all required DVD players, power and various cabling, therefore, this show was very heavy on tech and was a big learning curve for the artists involved. I have worked with the antiquated cathode ray tube TV before and was excited to teach another group of artists about the dying (if not dead) technology. I held workshops, lead brainstorming sessions, provided technical advice and expertise and helped the artists achieve the work they wanted to make. I also hosted media art and installation lectures to help give the artist some history and inspiration. As well as a writing workshop, this workshop was to give the artists some tips of how to apply their creative ideas to the page, which is a fundamental skill for all artists. The writing workshop was also organized to help us, as a group, write our project proposal, which Workman Arts had to approve. In the end we handed in a project proposal (including timeline and duties over two-months) that combined each of the artists own writing and was declared the best proposal that Workman had received for this group project and had raised the bar for future group projects.

Description of the installation written in collaboration: This multifaceted artistic interpretation of how our brain works, survives and suffers through addiction re-frames the excess of substance abuse seen on TV. In order to portray how normalized we have become to the viral image of addiction, images of mainstream television addictions and addicts flash on the monitors alongside an overabundance of content gathered from the internet, movies and TV’s history. In creating the construct of a giant aggregate mind, this installation presents viewers with a snippet of the bliss and banality in the face of addiction. Furthermore, you can’t stop watching!

About the organizations involved:
Rendezvous With Madness (RWM) investigates the facts and mythologies surrounding mental illness and addiction as presented by both Canadian and international filmmakers, as well as by visual and media-based artists. The festival provides filmmakers and artists with opportunities to exhibit work that may not otherwise be seen; facilitates discussion between artists and audiences on these cinematic and media representations; and increases awareness of, and advocacy for, mental health and addiction issues among the broader public.

Workman Arts (WA) is the longest-running multidisciplinary arts and mental health organizations in North America. WA facilitates aspiring, emerging and established artists with mental illness and addiction issues to develop and refine their art form through its arts training programs, public performance/exhibit opportunities and partnering with other art organizations. As well, WA promotes a greater public understanding of mental illness and addiction through the creation, presentation and discussion of artistic media.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction.

Workman install 1

Workman install 2
workman 3

Instructor & Program Manager, ArtStarts, Toronto ON
sew what

I first worked with ArtStarts with their new program Sew What?! that taught at-risk youth how to design and sew, as well as business aspects of the fashion world. “Art Starts inspires long-term social change in Toronto’s under-served neighbourhoods. We use the arts to engage residents, collectively work to overcome challenges and create a shared sense of identity. Our collaborative approach to art-making celebrates communities, nurtures resiliency, cultivates life skills and inspires personal growth.”

Click here for a video of the work Sew What?! has accomplished over the years.

I also worked with ArtStarts on their after school program “In the Hood” where I taught theater to grade school kids and “Without Walls” that was a care program for kids and their moms.



Feel free to also navigate through my website:
Or follow the links below to a selection of projects featured on my site:
1. mending:
2. floating piano in Winnipeg:
3. Glamour & War video:
4. MFA thesis show: