The practice of Waard Ward also places emphasis on community and collaboration but does so as a means for social justice. Collectively led by Syrian florist Abd Al-Mounim, community organizer Hanen Nanaa, educator Laura Ritacca, curator/educator Patricia Ritacca, and artist Petrina Ng, Waard Ward invites newcomers to train as florists and imagine social-entrepreneurial futures. Waard Ward‘s exhibited work presents collaboration in floral arrangement, decolonial research, as well as newcomer community building. In itself, Waard Ward's name proposes the idea of a diasporic flower district; "waard" is a romanization of the Arabic word for flower. Throughout September 2021, at the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington, Waard Ward collective offered a series of workshops to Arabic-speaking refugees and newcomers to develop flower-arranging skills. The workshops' spaces were designed and built by Nicolas Fleming as part of a larger, year-long exhibition curated by Matthew Kyba. The gallery displayed each workshop's floral arrangements, with new flowers added and vessels continuously re-arranged weekly. Darren Rigo was also invited to collaborate as both photographer and artist, which resulted in the exhibited work in Re/flex. Through these multiple collaborations, Waard Ward’s practice utilizes photography to document the social interactions at the heart of their project. In doing so, they foreground how documentary photography is not solely rooted in the historic but can also be forward-thinking and hopeful. Here, Waard Ward’s exhibited work provides an alternative method for documenting the learning process of cultural collaboration.
Excerpt from Jenna Faye Powell's exhibition text: Re:flex, Patel Brown Gallery, 2022.