The 2021-22 Mentors-In-Residence Program is now closed as of March 25, 2022.

Program Description

We are pleased to announce our inaugural Workman Arts: 2021-22 Mentors-In-Residence Program!

The Workman Arts: Mentors-In-Residence Program hosts eight (8) mentors who will provide 1-on-1 mentorship and guidance to Workman Arts members with project development, grants/fundraising advice and career development!

The program will run from fall 2021 to spring 2022 and will be conducted online via Zoom or by phone.

After you have submitted your program registration form, we will follow up to confirm your application details before connecting with your mentor(s) and/or other supports where needed.

Career Consultations

In preparation for the program, we offer career consultations to help artists identify and articulate their professional development goals for mentorship.

Career consultations are not mandatory for entry into the program.


Program enrollment will officially open on Friday, September 10, 2021. To register for the program please contact Azul Baez.


There is no deadline to register for the program. The program operates on a rolling basis where mentees are connected with a mentor(s) where mentorship hours are available.

Azul Baez
Programs and Administrative Assistant
416-583-4339, ext. 2

Introductory Panels

The Workman Arts: 2021-22 Mentors-In-Residence Program features a series of panel discussions “An Artist’s Journey: Am I Ready For A Mentor” where members will have the opportunity to engage with mentors and learn about each of their disciplines and practices as professional working artists.

Panel #1
Date and Time:
  September 7, 12:00 – 1:30 PM EST
Panellists: Teresa Ascencao, Jah Grey, Julie Riemersma (see bios below)

Panel #2
Date and Time:
September 23, 6:00 – 7:30 PM EST
Panellist: Mark Dudiak (see bio below)

Panel #3
Date and Time:
  September 8, 12:30 – 1:30 PM EST
Panellists: James Buffin, Emilie Gillespie, Louise Lalande, Cassandra Meyers  (see bios below)

Panel Registration

Panel #1
  • TUESDAY, SEPT 7, 12-1:30 PM
Panel #2
  • THURSDAY, SEPT 23, 6:00 - 7:30 PM
Panel #3
  • WEDNESDAY, SEPT 8, 12-1:30 PM



Teresa Ascencao (She/Her) is a multimedia artist whose work toys with social constructs of body language, costume, customs, and inner corporeal experiences. Her folk and pop inspired artworks employ concept-related mediums and technologies that invite audiences to play with iconographies and scenarios involving gender, seduction, consumption, and class. Teresa’s work is informed by a trauma past that manifested into advocacy through art. Teresa was born in Brazil to Azorean parents, and immigrated to Canada at a young age. She graduated with distinction from the University of Toronto’s Honours Fine Art Studio program and holds an MFA specializing in Media Art and Sex-Positive Feminism from OCAD University. Ascencao’s work has been exhibited widely in Canada and internationally. She is the producer and facilitator of two international art residencies, Luminous Bodies and Once Upon Water. Teresa lives and works in Toronto and teaches at OCAD University and University of Toronto.

Teresa can help you with:

  • Research, conceptual and creative development, including material and experiential considerations
  • technical support in analogue and digital photo and video/film, shooting and editing
  • support for multiple forms of creative expression (I work in multi-media, including photo, video, installation, performance, etc.)
  • feedback for work in progress, for alignment with artists’ intent and how audiences may experience the work
  • connections to artists, curators and resources aligned with project ideas
  • support for exhibition and grant proposals, aligned with project ideas
  • ideas to other creative and presentation opportunities.

James Buffin (He/Him) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Toronto, with film work broadcast internationally and featured at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. His music was performed at the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival and other Workman Arts events. James is producer/host of the Trauma Research Foundation’s podcast, Healing Connections. Leveraging his extended experience in drama production from Canada and New Zealand, James pivoted to focus on making independent documentaries in the late 2000’s. James is highly proficient in both camerawork and audio recording for video. He is equally at home working in team environments or as a solo creator. Sharing his hard won knowledge is a privilege James enjoys. He has taught people of all ages and experience levels at places like the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers Toronto, Workman Arts, Ryerson University, Planet in Focus, Toronto District School Board, and organizations in Bolivia and Ghana.

James can help you with:

  • Creative project development (writing/visioning);
  • project planning; technical training (camera/audio)
  • career sustainability visioning.

Mark Dudiak (He/Him) is a Toronto-based artist whose work explores loss through painting, video, and installation. A settler born on Treaty 6 territory in Saskatoon, he holds a BFA from Emily Carr University, Vancouver, and an MFA from Concordia University, Montréal. Dudiak has exhibited across Canada and Europe at venues such as ZK/U Berlin, Projet Pangée Montréal, Forest City Gallery London, Access Vancouver, and Nuit Blanche Toronto. His work explores formal interactions of light, colour, texture, and many forms of painting – from acrylics, to airbrush, spray-painting, watercolours and oils. He uses colour and form in both abstract and representative ways to express themes of loss and beauty, as well as a response to personal anxiety. He also works in video and installation, skilled in video capture / editing, compositing, and has experience in 3d modelling.

Mark can help you with:

  • Developing studio discipline and creative routines
  • studio material safety
  • painting in oils, acrylic and watercolour
  • working in video and installation
  • exhibiting your work – from proposal to installing art
  • arts writing and some grant strategies.

Jah Grey (He/Him) is a self-taught photographic artist primarily focused on portraiture who began his career researching and studying concepts of black masculinity in 2014. His photographs are an ongoing study that’s focused on the relationship between the black masculine body and vulnerability, explores the disconnect between the concepts of vulnerability and masculinity, showcasing the struggle between the idealized norm vs. the desired embodiment through a trans lens. His work is inspired by shared experiences of vulnerability and aim’s towards supporting positive notions of black masculinity.His subjects are typically black men who do not fit or have a desire to fit the label of hyper-masculinity imposed upon them. Jah skillfully uses the power of his photographic images to share the deep and meaningful stories behind his subjects and actively remains unafraid to expand himself as an artist. Jah is on a dedicated journey to transparency by living his truth, depicting it through photography, and video installations.

Jah can help with:

  • Photography:
  • Creating concepts: Jah breaks down his process for developing and capturing emotionally compelling photos.
  • Story-telling through portraiture: Jah shares how to use captivating imagery to bring a story to life.
  • Using what you have: Jah discusses affordable approaches to photography including low cost-equipment and working with natural lighting.
  • Working with your subject: Jah shares approaches to working with people, including the photographer’s responsibility to create a safe environment, recruiting subjects, and the value of working agreements.
  • Evolution of a creative: Jah recounts his journey to becoming a portrait photographer and offers insights for emerging artists cultivating their niche.
  • Showcasing works: Jah discusses the process behind developing an artist statement, connecting with art curators and galleries, and building a customer base.
  • Case study: A Room Full of Black Boys: Jah demonstrates the process of curating a show from start to finish through a case study of his art show “A Room Full of Black Boys”.
  • Advocacy through art: Jah discusses how to harness the power of art to build awareness and advocate for transformative change. 


  • Grants: 
    • Grant writing: Jah walks you through designing concepts, writing grants, and the grant selection process. 
    • Finding the right grant: Jah offers tips and resources for funding your next project.

Emily Gillespie (She/They) is an author, disability activist and professional daydreamer. Her work explores the themes of memory, identity and mental health journeys. Emily enjoys working in community spaces and examining individual and collective experiences. She views storytelling as a tool for resisting predominant social narratives. Emily has a BA in English and Gender, Equality and Social Justice from Nipissing University in 2013, and completed their MA in Critical Disability Studies in 2014 from York University. They earned a certificate in Creative Writing in 2021 from Concordia University. Dancing with Ghosts (Leaping Lion Books, 2017) is her first novel. Her poetry and short-stories can be found in several journals and anthologies. She is currently drafting her second grant funded novel, teaching creative writing, and experimenting with zines as well as performance art.

Emily can help you with:

  • Organizational skills, (especially if you are managing multiple art projects)
  • grant writing,
  • disability accommodation requests and submission support,
  • professional network expansion,
  • creating disability inclusive classrooms for art teachers,
  • creative writing
  • publishing.

Louise Lalande (She/Her) spent her formative years as the daughter of a Canadian diplomat in the Foreign Service. After studying art and psychology, she graduated from an Interior Design Program and specialized as an architectural lighting designer. Her fascination with holistic health and transformation led her to link the design process to life change strategies and offer coaching, The Artist’s Way courses and creativity workshops. This has shown Louise that we’re all gifted with imagination and can access our innate wisdom for positive change. Her artistic expressions come in many forms: pottery, photography, painting, doll making, etc.. Inspired by nature, her illustrate aliveness and interconnectedness. She’s dedicated to assisting others shape their lives into significant journeys; lighting paths, so to speak, for others to find their way to their own passions.

Louise can help you with:

  • Project planning, organizing and scheduling
  • time management
  • website, bio, CV feedback 
  • entrepreneurship and networking
  • making and building stuff
  • lighting and space planning
  • painting – acrylic and watercolour
  • health and wellness
  • creative blocks.

Cassandra Meyers (They/She) is a queer, non-binary, disabled, mad, South-Asian-Italian poet and peer support worker from Tkaronto. Cassandra is the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word champion in 2018, amongst other spoken word awards. Cassandra recently won the ARC Poetry Magazine Poem of The Year Award and Readers Choice Award. A Pink Door Fellow, Cassandra’s first book of poems is forthcoming from Write Bloody North Press.


Julie Riemersma (She/Her) graduated in 2012 with honours in Photography from Humber College. Since then, she has been working steadily to build up a clientele of portraits, local businesses and fashion brands. She is overarchingly passionate about portraying women, trans, and non-binary folx in an empowered way through photography. As a queer person, she’s most interested in telling more success stories of 2SLGBTQ+ to increase visibility and inspire others. Sustainability, kindness, and passion drive her need to take pictures that you’ve never seen before. And her mission is to make advertising photography more art based and cerebral (when clients allow). Besides her art and photography, Julie is a savvy business woman and is passionate about teaching artists and creative professionals tools to manage their bookkeeping and online presence.

Julie can help you with:

  • Finances and taxes for running a successful business
  • social media and other free marketing strategies
  • techniques to structure your day and stay focused
  • photo and video project assistance
  • website, SEO, branding.

FAQ (Frequent Asked Questions):


Q: What is the deadline to apply for the Workman Arts: 2021-22 Mentors-In-Residence Program?

A: There is no deadline to apply for the program. Registration is open throughout the Fall of 2021 until the Spring of 2022.


Q: What makes someone eligible to work with one of these mentors? 

A: A Workman Arts member’s eligibility for the program is to demonstrate a need for support in the following area(s):

  • Support in project development (program, exhibition, event Design)
  • Grant Writing/Proofreading/Submission support 
  • Fundraising advice for a particular program, exhibition, project, or event
  • Portfolio review and advice
  • Creating a proposal or a pitch
  • Professional network expansion

The program currently does not support long-term art-based education. We ask members to refer and register for the following term’s art training courses for all long-term goals and art-based education.


Q: Should part of a member’s artist practices be identical or related to a mentor in order to work with them? 

A: For mentors that members are applying to work with that do not relate to their practice(s); The artist/member must articulate why/how the mentor of their choosing will help them achieve goals related to their primary art practices.


Q: Can one work with more than one WA mentor at a time? 

A: Members are able to apply to one or all of the eight mentors in residence for up to two (2) sessions from September – December 2021. In January 2022 till spring we will be inviting members back to re-book available sessions with the mentors.


Q: If a member is accepted into a mentorship program outside of Workman Arts is that member also eligible to register for this program? 

A member who has been accepted into a mentorship program outside of Workman Arts is still eligible to register for this program. However, we ask that if you are currently enrolled in a mentorship program outside of Workman Arts ie. “entrepreneurship for artists,” to consider allowing other members the opportunity to receive similar support through this program for equitable access.