This panel discussion originally took place February 9, from 6:00-8:00 ET.

Arts Etobicoke
and artsUNITE / UNITÉ des arts present a panel conversation on augmented reality in artistic practice. Over the past 2 years, Arts Etobicoke has been developing community-led, artist-driven digital arts projects. Drawing on their network and experience, this conversation between industry experts, artists, and curators explores the challenges, opportunities and lessons learned in developing augmented reality art projects.


Luke Garwood is currently working with Arts Etobicoke on two major augmented reality projects and acting as our Artist Technology Advisor. Luke dances, choreographs and makes hybrid media installations. He has collaborated with many of Toronto’s foremost dance makers, receiving six Dora Mavor Moore nominations, and landing a win for best ensemble in Heidi Strauss’ What it’s Like. As a designer, Garwood draws from his performance background to create hybrid media pieces that thematically address the body in digital space. He utilizes technologies such as motion capture, VR, AR, volumetric scanning, and 3D modelling to create interactive, hands-on pieces in which viewers have the ability to directly affect their experience of the work.

Akshata Naik is Arts Etobicoke’s Program and Gallery Manager and the lead on our three Augmented Reality projects. Akshata is an internationally recognized, talented visual artist, arts educator, curator, and administrator. Before moving to Canada, Akshata was an Assistant Professor at Parul University in Gujarat, where she taught drawing and painting. Akshata moved to Canada in 2017 and quickly became active in the arts scene, widely showing her interactive art in many exhibitions reaching diverse communities across Toronto. Akshata is also an accomplished speaker, most recently presenting at the Gathering 1.0 organized by Cultural Pluralism in the Art Movement Ontario (CPAMO) and Emergence Symposium organized by the Neighbourhood Arts Network. Among her many accomplishments, Akshata received a Newcomer Artist Mentorship Grant by Toronto Arts Council in 2019 and a 2020 RBC Newcomer Arts Award.

Nyle Johnston is currently working with Arts Eotbicoke on their Sites of Significance Project to identify and animate important Indigenous sites in Etobicoke. A painter, mural artist, traditional storyteller, and traditional helper, Johnston uses his gift of storytelling to connect his peoples’ stories of love and healing with the broader world, and offer support to a range of community organizations. His work has been exhibited across many of Canada’s most important institutions, from the AGO and ROM to the Evergreen Brickworks and the Chippewas of Nawash Cultural Centre. His artistic practice is focused on illustrating stories of the Anishinaabe Nation in a variety of media, including Augmented Reality, in order to raise awareness of their unique histories as they in turn inform his process. He was born and raised on his beautiful reserve, Neyaashiinigmiing, on the Saugeen Peninsula (Bruce Peninsula) and took a keen interest in painting and art at a very young age. Johnston has an established portfolio of work and is well recognized in Toronto. His original works are showcased at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in the Jennings Young gallery (J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art).

Claudia Arana is currently the curator for the Year of Public Art West End Hub in Etobicoke, which features multiple digital exhibitors including augmented and virtual reality. Claudia Arana is an independent curator, arts administrator, and cultural connector whose practice constructs virtual and physical artistic platforms to promote the inclusion of diverse artistic and cultural perspectives. In exploring notions of memory, racialization and global migration, she aims to bring forward socially and politically viable artistic practices through engaging curated physical and digital experiences.


Heather Ervin is a communications specialist with over twelve years working in the not-for-profit cultural sector. Heather is proud to be the Development & Communications Manager at Arts Etobicoke, an organization that serves the community where she lives. She enjoys researching and securing funding for the variety of creative programs Arts Etobicoke runs. Heather has managed communications for such companies as Theatre Passe Muraille, Theatre Columbus (now Common Boots Theatre), Blyth Festival Theatre, The Toronto Fringe Festival, and Tarragon Theatre. Originally from Saskatchewan, Heather moved to Ontario to attend the University of Toronto’s joint theatre program with Sheridan College. She is passionate about creating access to the arts for everyone.