LaunchPAD is VIBE Arts’ Transitional Artist Mentorship Program. The program was built to support our transitional emerging artists in their journey to becoming established arts educators with VIBE Arts.

LaunchPAD is made possible by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Cohort II (2022-2023)

Alia J
Artist Bio

Alia Ettienne is a Afro-Caribbean multidisciplinary artist and facilitator from Toronto, ON. After studying Performance at Sheridan College she moved on to explore Creative Writing and Arts Marketing. Her first solo piece YellowZoned premiered in The 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival, later remounting twice in Hamilton,ON. This led to her being featured in Hamilton’s View’s Magazine. She founded her creative wellness program, Chill N Do Art five years ago and has since expanded to include the Creative Coping Kits Initiative, which was featured on the Toronto blog She In The City. Currently, she is most focused on developing her second show Allow For Release: The Xiety Complex, fulfilling her role as Coordinator of the Accessible Futures Program. Her three-panel installation was previously showcased on the TTC at Ossington subway station as she was chosen to be a part of the RBC Desire Lines III Cohort.

She most recently was selected as a part of the Black Theatre Workshop’s artist mentorship program as well as welcomed her first child, Caden, in April.

Andrea Josic
Artist Bio

Andrea Josic is a queer, Mad, Bosnian-Canadian poet, performer, journalist, and arts educator based in the GTA. She has been competing in international poetry slams for 6 years and is a national award-winning poet and journalist with work published in This Magazine, Xtra, pulpMAG, Amble Mag, and more. As an Emerging Artist with VIBE Arts and an Arts Instructor in schools and communities across Ontario, AJ hopes to cultivate community joy and healing in their work.

Desiree Mckenzie
Artist Bio

Desiree Mckenzie is an award-winning poet, arts educator, national poetry slam champion, voice actor, and photographer from Toronto. Her poetry and voice have been featured in works for CBC’s Poetic License series, When Sisters Speak, Clearco Financial, Button Poetry, Kids Help Phone and Home Depot. She facilitates a range of community poetry programming for organizations like JAYU, VIBE Arts, Unity Charity, Poetry in Voice, and Shakespeare in Action. In March 2021, she released her debut spoken word EP, Wet Hair, now available on streaming platforms. In December 2022, she opened for Rupi Kaur on her world tour stop at Massey Hall.

Paul-Daniel Torres
Artist Bio

Paul-Daniel Torres (charrothechronicler) is a multi-media artist and community worker, inspired by the likes of; Celia Cruz, Willie Colon, Spike Lee, bell hooks, Stan Lee, Brad Bird, and The Wutang Clan. His work is visually, emotionally, and thematically eclectic indicative of his multicultural upbringing within the multicultural mosaic of Toronto and Latinidad. The son of working class Ecuadorean immigrants, his work focuses on race, politics, love, mental health, Latinidad, gender, home and family, all led by tenants of decolonization as he believes in a “Latino America y Toronto unida”, led by Black and Indigenous voices.  He’s a 2019 graduate of Sheridan College’s Film and TV Production Program, (specializing in writing and directing) where he graduated with honours and awards for best screenplay and academic writing. As a filmmaker he’s screened at TIFF Next Wave, The National Film Festival for Talented Youth, and The Buffalo International Film Festival. He’s won awards at the Official Latino Film Festival sponsored by HBO and The Toronto Youth Shorts. His last film went on to pick up 6 nominations at 2021’s Reelworld film festival and was made with the mentorship of Director X.  He’s also a full member of The Canadian League of Poets, an actor, and a photographer/videographer working to document archival footage of the intersections between Toronto’s Hip Hop and Community Work scenes. As part of Vibe’s Artist Roster, he was the Creative Director for the “Parallax Path” art installation at The Bata Shoe Museum for this years Nuit Blanche. Creating 4 distinct short films and installations  tied together by themes of decolonization and immigration.  As a community worker, he’s led and programmed harm reduction, safe partying, poetry, photography, and film facilitations/workshops. Working with organizations such as The Neighbourhood Group, Vibe Arts, ArtworksTO, JAY U, Reel Canada, and others. As well is the founder of “The Friendly Neighbourhood Screenwriting and Filmmaking Program” that teaches racialized youth from underserved communities with curriculum that serves and maximizes their talent/experience.  Currently he’s editing his next short, “Fried Fish and Plantain” a bilingual romance about love and loss featuring TIFF Rising Star, Emma Ferreira.

Thunderclaw Robinson
Artist Bio

Thunderclaw Robinson is a multi faceted Storyteller & teacher, who spent many years transforming negative emotions and energy into fuel for positive change Hailing from Scarborough he’s shared stages with Ari Lennox & Jessie Reyes and has been apart of installations of art in Toronto including NUIT blanche and VIBE ART's NEXT, He’s traveled to a variety of locations across the continent to Share Light through Poems and Songs and aims to use his experience to assist others in being a step closer to telling their truest story through art. 

Cohort I (2021-2022)

Jason Julien
Artist Bio

I’m a Toronto born self taught artist that has learnt my craft through trial and error and watching other artist practice their craft. My art mediums are drawing, illustrations and sculpture, with a focus on sustainable arts and recyclable materials. I also use markers, watercolour (paints, water, pencil crayons, markers) pastels, charcoal and Inks.

Maneesa Veeravel

Artist Bio

Maneesa Veeravel is an interdisciplinary artist with over a decades experience in arts creation, facilitation and anti-oppressive work. They are a mad, queer, Tamil, gender fluid, survivor born on the stolen, traditional and ancestral lands of the Wendake-Nionwentsïo, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinabewaki territories. Maneesa's practice reflects intergenerational wits, wounds and wisdoms as it pertains to land, body and the notion of belonging.

Nicholas Ridiculous

Artist Bio

The one and only Nicholas Ridiculous is a dynamic catalyst of a creator. A son of fiction and student of story, raised under the neon glow of a boxy television set. As a veteran of the child welfare industry, Nicholas is a shapeshifting wanderer dangling between worlds. Using the windows of reality that pass-by as inspiration for his works in traditional and digital artistry, fashion design, musical creation, and story-telling. An escape artist at best, with no where to go. But in the end, we all just wanna find home.

Sylvie the Artist

Artist Bio

Sylvie Stojanovski (a.k.a. Sylvie the Artist) is a multidisciplinary artist, and experience designer whose work explores the myriad of relationships we have with the contemporary natural world—from the transience of reflections on water, to the complexity of memories we hold from childhood. Sylvie creates alongside nature and communities, inviting them to become active participants in the genesis of work. Her process is experimental and iterative in nature—allowing meaning to seed, bud, and ripen over time until it is ready to be harvested. Her art is influenced by the rhythm of the seasons, and grounded in the ethereal beauty of the mundane. Sylvie draws inspiration from the constancy of change that characterizes life on earth. An eco-feminist and embodied learning advocate at her core, she aspires to create biophilic experiences that promote radical connection and collective healing.

Talie Shalmon

Artist Bio

Talie Shalmon is an artist, muralist and arts educator and from Toronto. Themes that often emerge from her work include identity and nature, and she works with a variety of media, including painting, digital art and public murals. Talie earned a Master’s in Interdisciplinary Design Research from Carleton University, a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Queen’s University and a Graphic Design Certificate from Humber College. She has exhibited in galleries across Ontario, including Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, the Union Gallery, the Art Gallery of York University, Northern Contemporary and the Military Museums in Calgary. Her murals can be found in public spaces across the GTA.

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