Initiated by visual artist, c.j. fleury and legal scholar, Elizabeth Sheehy, in the Spring of 1999,
the project was rooted in the artist's desire to marry her public and community art experience with activist interests and the legal scholar's belief in the importance of art as a
powerful vehicle of communication.
Both women, deeply intrigued by art as a language with which to explore and reflect the work of feminist law,
hold collaborative process in high esteem. They contribute to both the direction of the larger project and the individual templates on rape.
The catalyst for their meeting was a slide
image of a shield bearing rider, racing through a night forest, seen by Elizabeth eight years earlier in an evening art class.
From this memory, she wanted to bring the urgency of the Messenger to the cover of the about-to-be-piblished Canadian
Feminist Literature on Law: An Annotated Bibliography, (Josée Bouchard, Susan B.Boyd, and Elizabeth Sheehy: U of
Toronto Press, 1999). Tracking down the artwork, through Ottawa School of Art instructor Kathy Gillis, led Elizabeth to c.j. and the
beginning of numerous discussions, and meetings about shaping a collaborative project between their two disciplines.
Several months later, talking over the creative potential that could
be engendered by linking these communities of vision and resistance, Elizabeth first used the term TEMPLATES for Activism.
The building and circulation of each template generate fresh flows of artistic and political literacy between - and beyond- different
sets of concerned social 'actors'. Thus TEMPLATES for Activism casts a co-creative light on the true relationship between law and
women's lives while re-presenting this relationship through non-conventional cultural means.
TEMPLATES for Activism, based in the National Capital Region of
Canada, was designed to set patterns of dialogue, precedent and continuance for such partnerships in other centres. To date the
work has been presented in lectures at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and at the SOLON conference, Museum of Law,
Nottinham Trent University, UK, and in legal and art publications, such as n.paradoxa, Rethinking Revolution issue, Vol 10, July, 2002.
The purpose of the web site is to share the knowledge, the
strategies, the finished works and the evaluation of local models.
More information [background and prep documents, etc.] is
available digitally for artists, women's or legal groups, looking to work in a corresponding manner or to develop their own templates
for activism. If you are working in the area of law as it affects women, or if you have, or know of, such a socially engaged
project, you are also welcome to post information on or request a link to your project from this site. email us
Sites for development and presentation of future templates will be as varied as the arts and law workers that come together to
envision and produce them: interior and exterior venues, conferences, any of the print or virtual media, actions, marches,
sides of buildings, high-schools, public washrooms, etc ...
Watch this website for information about new initiatives as the TEMPLATES for Activism project expands to include more activists from art and law.