Skip to main content

Persistent Humanity
Magdolene Dykstra

On display beginning Saturday 8 August 2020

Persistent Humanity
My work meditates on the unfathomable multiplicity of humanity. Just as prehistoric artists recorded their presence using pigments of the earth, my finger paintings record my presence with a simple, yet persistent gesture. Using soil and naturally occurring oxides, these paintings connect me to the earliest artists, as we insist on recording our existence with the earth. Until the 1960s, Canadian immigration policy overtly favoured people from European countries. The legacy of this policy is visible in every room I enter. It reminds me, an Egyptian Canadian, that whiteness was the goal for this nation. It is in this context that I continue to assert my existence by recording my presence. Even though my mark is particular to me, it is also a universal one, shared among all humans. These paintings also meditate on mortality, as the marks of my presence fade.

This project is special to the Dennis Tourbin Members Gallery and is supported in part by the Audrey Shimizu Fund.


Magdolene Dykstra is a second generation Egyptian-Canadian. After studying both biology and visual arts in undergraduate studies, she received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Magdolene has participated in residencies at the Medalta Historic Clay District and the Watershed Center for Arts and Crafts. Magdolene has been awarded several grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, including Research and Creation Grants, Exhibition Assistance Grants, and Arts Abroad Grants. Recent exhibitions include a site-specific installation at the Gardiner Museum (Toronto, ON). Upcoming exhibitions include a solo exhibition at the Jane Hartsook Gallery (New York, NY). She is also the founder of SWAG, a group dedicated to supporting womxn artists in the Niagara region, where she is a passionate artist-educator, teaching at secondary and post-secondary levels.

Community Painting
Presented by Suitcase in Point

Saturday 8 August 12pm-3pm
Niagara Artists Centre

Coinciding with the release of Freedom: A Community Mixtape, produced by Suitcase in Point, on Saturday 8 August 2020, Magdolene Dykstra invites members of the community in Niagara to join her in asserting their persistent humanity by making their mark (their fingerprint) on a community painting at the Niagara Artists Centre. By asking people to contribute their fingerprints, Dykstra allows for people of all backgrounds and skill levels to participate in this record of our community. While each of our fingerprints is unique, they are also universal as a mark we all share.

In recording our existence with the earth, these paintings explore freedom as the right to exist, persist, and assert our humanity. Using naturally occurring oxides, this community painting draws a connection between us and the earliest artists from prehistoric times. This community finger painting will also embody hope, in continuing to record our co-existence with each other and with the earth. We aim to display this special community work in a public space for years to come. Freedom: A Mixtape will played as the event soundtrack. Visit to learn more.

Healthy & safety protocols for COVID19 will be in place, including hand-sanitizer stations, hand sanitizer wipes, and recording participation information for contact tracing. In order to maintain social distancing, only 5 participants will be allowed into NAC at a time.