Erika DeFreitas

Erika DeFreitas, Studies on How to Move Water (arrangements and compositions) #4, archival pigment print, 11 x 14 inches

Erika DeFreitas is a Scarborough-based interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes the use of performance, photography, video, installation, textiles, works on paper, and writing. Her work draws on personal and cultural histories to investigate the nature of loss, both experienced and anticipated, such as loss of opportunity, memory, identity or a loved one. Emphasising process, gesture, and documentation, DeFreitas explores the dichotomy of absence and presence in an effort to offer permanence to the impermanent.

Studies on how to move water is part of a larger photographic series that considers the visual image as a way to document a process of conjuring the water through object and gesture. Inspired by an invitation to respond to the Bradley Museum in Mississauga, DeFreitas created a body of work examining the varying relationships we have with water. The Bradley house is a two-story saltbox style farmhouse, built in 1830 within steps of Lake Ontario, and it was relocated further inland in the mid 1960s. The intention for this project was to consider how to conceptually return this house to the body of water.

DeFreitas holds a Master of Visual Studies from the University of Toronto. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including at Project Row Houses and the Museum of African American Culture, Houston; Fort Worth Contemporary Arts; Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita; Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery; Platform Centre for Photographic and Digital Arts, Winnipeg; and Gallery 44, Toronto. A recipient of the Toronto Friends of Visual Artist’ 2016 Finalist Artist Prize, the 2016 John Hartman Award, and longlisted for the 2017 Sobey Art Award, she has also been awarded several grants from the Canada Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council. She has participated in artist residencies in Toronto, Winnipeg, Scotland, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Listen to the artist’s talk about how this work evolved.