Resonance of a Deep Ground


By Gizem Candan

Observe the earth and absorb it all in.
Reflect while honouring it and, above all, don’t forget to cherish it.

Those who are brave enough to see the dances of the worms will be relieved of their grief. Those who touch the fresh dirt will find a way to protect it. The smell of earth will reunite us, and finally we will recapture the history of our intimate environments.

My journey with earthworms started in a DIY compost bin on the balcony of my one-bedroom apartment. A plastic container, coco coir, and a handful of pink small creatures, aka red wigglers, are what are needed to start. They resisted Toronto’s harsh winter, and there are now a thousand of them. It makes me feel like I have an army that has a constant battle with my food scraps in five inches of dirt. They seem content for now in their damp darkness while crawling on each other, touching their mates through their fragile skins, and laying down their cocoons. Their collective interactions are inspiring. Soon after I open the lid of the compost bin, they immediately move to the deeper ground. I like to watch their movements. They remind me of the life-and-death cycle. I can hear their motion if I put my ear closer to the soil. The earth breathes—taking life in order to replenish it.

Take heed of the earth
Wander towards deeper darkness alongside its constant — — — move
Hold your breath
Despite of everyone who looks up
Take yourself          to the ground
Trickle through burrows
Call for fleshly bodies
They whisper downwards as collectives
Time to rest on castings
It’s damn wet here
It’s damn dark here
But it’s not dead—yet

Following poems in response to both earthworms and my recent paintings from people who visited my studio—studio 1—during the “i made it through the wilderness” residency at Artscape Gibraltar Point. They showed a wonderful interest in earthworms and shared their feelings in a poetic way. I would like to express my gratitude to all of them for bringing joy to my paintings and for having a willingness to get their voices up in an effort to make a difference.

I hope that this will inspire you to pay attention to your surroundings, including the hidden ones!

By Sin Tung Ng (Steffi)

Being here with fear
Spreading love for years

Ugly or Beauty,
   Dangerous or Friendly,
      Human or Nature,
        Men or Women,
          Weak or Strong,
Free your mind from binaries
Taste the flowing, smell the becoming.

Feel, this deep ground beneath
Hear, this deep ground beneath
Dance, this deep ground beneath
Connect, this deep ground beneath
Heal, this deep ground beneath

My friend,
Embrace this deep ground beneath.

Breathe In
By Taline Kavoukian

Red-browns, greens, and even blue.
Patina glowing in the dark.
Musky and vibrant; oxygenated.
Reminiscent of Renaissance painting
Redolent with life.

Cool haven, this earth.
So tender.
Fragile spongy shelter, deep below.
A cocoon to nest in,
Grow stronger, and create anew.
Metamorphosis from the ground up.

Smells like home, sweet home.








“Blossom the transparent flowers”
By Teresa Chan

Let me be naked in the dark
Embrace each other
Take deep breaths together

As a cluster of mosses
    A bunch of blood vessels

Convey the moist air
    Blossom the transparent flowers
       And the flowers build the roads for you

All the places you go
They have my memories from birth

Those layered images
    Will be shredded someday
       And then come up again somewhere

With more breaths
       More flowers

230610, studio 1
by ann (tong li)

the sounds of wetness crawling
in the deep grounds

the pink tenderness sprawling,
freely, unanimously

life, creeping up your palm,
creeping up your arm, like

of the soil, like waves, foaming up on the shore
in a gloomy summer afternoon, the wiggles

with a pain growing beneath your feet,
a dirty rain dot on your calf,
a fresh breath of soil, they


and get quenched
by a sudden rain

Worm Hunt (Wyrm Hunt)
By Camille Kiku Belair

After rainfall
Through ochre glide
From umber burrows,
Burrow up and under
Burnt sienna bodies
Clustered, castings
Tracked and examined.

Cocoons may signal
Lairs, carved
By wriggling
Dorsal shifting.
Serpentine, crimson,
Cadmium ventral
Surfaces shine.

Hydrostatic skeletons
Leave no trail
Of bones - these
Ones are wanted
Detritivorous, living
below layers,
No teeth to
Perform their dark

Between wild grass and green meadows
By Afifa Bari

The yellow daffodils perched up near the green grass,
peeking at the fiery sun.
Grey stones and garden gnomes
Hiding in the soil is a being
Soft and petite,
Pink and White
Wiggling, red wiggler

Saving us from ourselves.
Purple petals and banana peels,
Between wild grass and green meadows,
Wanting to create
Craving warmth and darkness,
It feeds off the earth
Creating tunnels and mazes
Wiggling, red wigglers

Like a child, digs and digs
Beneath the earth and into the heavens
Wiggling, red wigglers

By Leeay Aikawa

Plant this mantra deep in your subconscious garden.

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

Soil, worm, love

By Lisa Cristinzo

How do you just “be”?
The “Doing” vs “Being”
I know “Doing”
So is undoing, Being?
I asked my therapist
How do I move through grief?
How do I just be?
But like grief, being is not a problem to be solved, but staying in a feeling for just the right amount of time, until feeling gives way to form
But like this poem, I got wrapped up in the riddle of Doing vs Being
I started to name all the Doing Beings to my therapist, I say….
Humans are doing beings for sure
Ants, beavers
Worms are doing beings!
Worms, are like fire, transforming material through the heat of digestion…
Gizem has an altar to worms that asks us to be gentle with them
She prays to these history makers, earth worm makings, offering a state of feeling while they dissociate from being. These doing beings.

It’s a


WORMS! (always plural rarely single)

By Raquel Mendes

These servants
to a primal womb
see no pact to be made
with light.
They are
earthen breath
enriching the space
stubborn rigidities.
They dig faith
out of the depths,
reviving matter
to fertile ground.
They push.

Artist Bios

Gizem Candan (she/her)

Sin Tung Ng (Steffi) (she/her) is interested in disrupting the flattening term of “Asian” and “Immigrants” through writing, community-based curation and art administration. She was born and raised in Hong Kong, and is currently based in T’Karonto/Toronto, pursuing her MFA of Criticism and Curatorial Practice program at OCAD University. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom. Sin Tung/Steffi enjoys hiking, reading and sipping black coffee with Gizem while chatting about worms.

Taline Kavoukian (she/her) is a T’Karonto/Toronto-based multimedia artist currently interested in exploring the social constructs of gender and nature. Her art career began after she retired from full-time teaching. She recently graduated with a B.FA from York University, and also earned a certificate from the Central Technical School’s Adult Art Centre. She holds an M.A. in Creativity and Intrinsic Motivation from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Taline is an enthusiastic reader, walker, traveller, and curious learner who believes that life is an adventure to be lived with love, joy and in community.

Teresa Chan (she/her) is a multimedia artist with an education background in ecology and anthropology. She started art creation with ink drawing for making political cartoons and book illustrations. After a long stay with Indigenous People in Taiwan, she explores natural materials and everyday objects as a medium to portrait the interaction between humans and nature, examining collective memory and cultural identity with a multispecies perspective. As a Hong Kong diaspora from a Japanese Buddhist family, her ink works embody the Zen philosophy, reconnecting to the spiritual world shared with her faraway family. She is currently a professional member of Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP).

Tong Li (she/they) creates, writes, and curates in Toronto. She holds a BDes from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and earned an MA in illustration from Maryland Institute College of Art. She currently studies in the Criticism and Curatorial Practice MFA program at OCAD University.

Camille Kiku Belair (they/them) is a Toronto-based composer, classical guitarist, and interdisciplinary artist. They are interested in working with field recordings and experimenting with mixed media, and are currently pursuing an MFA in the Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design program at OCAD University. They previously completed a BMus specialising in composition at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music, and studied at California Institute of the Arts in both the Performer-Composer and Experimental Sound Practices MFA programs.Their current work involves developing hand-made book objects that function as compositional tools, including the exploration of different forms of music notation.

Afifa Bari (she/her) is a contemporary realist oil painter and textile artist based in Toronto. She earned her BFA from York University in 2020. She is currently pursuing her MFA from OCAD University. Through representational art, she examines the contemporary world through the lens of capitalism, uncovering consumerist values in her work. She discusses issues around ideas of capitalism, such as poverty and the cycle of consumerism. Her work focuses on material possessions and the desire for materialism in the newly advancing society. She discusses fast fashion trends and the constant desire to purchase more in modern society from a socio-political and environmental outlook.

Leeay Aikawa (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist who interweaves a range of materials and methods to engage with natural phenomena and presence. Since graduated with a Bachelor of Design degree in Illustration from OCAD University in 2009, Aikawa’s evolving nature of work has lingered between art, design, and illustration. As an illustrator and graphic designer, she has worked with clients such as New York Times, Vogue Japan, The Walrus, The Pen, The Atlantic, to name a few. Aikawa completed her MFA in Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art Design and Media at OCAD University (2021), and she continues to exhibit her work in both solo and group exhibitions. She is also certified in Vinyasa and Hatha yoga teaching. She was hosted by Paradise Air (Matsudo, Japan) in 2019 as an artist in residence and selected by MOCA for their Mentorship Program in 2020.

Lisa Cristinzo (She/her) is a queer painter and installation artist, and a first-generation Canadian settler living in T’karonto on Turtle Island. Cristinzo’s large-scale painting installations traverse natural history, climate hazards, materialism, and magic. She holds a BFA from OCAD U and an MFA from York University, where she received a graduate scholarship and SSHRC federal funding for her research into fire and climate change. Cristinzo’s writing and artwork about fire was recently published in Fire Season II by Liz Tooney-Wiese and Amory Abbott. Along with being an artist, she has spent over a decade managing arts programs and community cultural hubs, including Artscape Gibraltar Point, an artist residency and event space on Mnisiing/Toronto Island.

Raquel Mendes (She/her) is an interdisciplinary artist from Brazil based in Toronto. Her work is informed by her subjectivity as a queer woman, a mother, and an immigrant. She works in a variety of different media to express her relationship with the world, including different forms of mark-making, analog or digital image capture, performance, installation, and poetry. Her research methodology is not preemptively defined, but it is always rooted in a desire for harmony and balance. Some of the themes present within her work are feminism, spirituality, family, and nature.