My editor’s letter tends to be the last piece I write for each edition of NUVO. This go-round, the page remained blank for some time; stringing together the right words was more difficult than usual, perhaps because things are far from normal. At a time when one often reflects back on the year that was, I find myself looking to the next, longing for the fresh beginning a new year brings. But in the current context, the world still threatened by COVID-19, the new seems likely to be more of the same—living in a strange in-between.
Numerous countries are rallying once more to protect their health and economy from a second wave of the pandemic. As we head into a troubling winter, beauty remains an antidote and a certainty during these uncertain times. In this winter edition, issue 87, we bring you beauty in all its forms, beginning with the cover featuring Mario Rigby, a modern-day explorer advocating for a more diverse, eco-conscious travel landscape. In late 2015, Rigby quit his job, sold all his furniture, gave up his apartment in Toronto, packed a backpack, and boarded a plane for South Africa for what would become a two-year walk (wearing out many pairs of shoes) from Cape Town to Cairo across eastern Africa. As Brett Popplewell writes, “in the niche world of professional explorers where egos can often rule, Rigby is a refreshing character with growing influence. His drive to normalize BIPOC in outdoor spaces and to overcome environmental and social injustices through exploration have led him to cross Africa on foot, cycle across Canada, and kayak the length of Lake Ontario.”
Maria Qamar, a.k.a @hatecopy (her artist moniker is an expression of rebellion—she was fired from a corporate job as a copywriter), is from a traditional South Asian family and moved to Canada as a child. In the last few years, Qamar began creating her specific brand of pop art and, by doing so, also created her own space in the art world. Qamar has “shifted the immense possibilities that future generations of young South Asian kids can attain by creating an archive (an entirely new vernacular) for what that can be,” writes Fariha Róisín. “She has resisted labels and created art that is cross-genre, Bollywood meets Roy Lichtenstein, pop art as pulpy as a Bengali melodrama.”
With NUVO, the intent has always been to celebrate the voices of Canadians, and there are plenty of stories to explore this issue: Jennifer Abbott, the film director who specializes in social justice and environmental documentaries; Daniel Torjman, founder of 18 Waits, the indie menswear label, and committed to making his clothes in Canada; and Alexander Josephson, Pooya Baktash, and Jonathan Friedman—the trio and principals of the architecture firm Partisans. It would be very un-Canadian to not laud those beyond our borders; in this issue, we also showcase international creatives, including Bethan Laura Wood, Stephen Graham Jones, and Barbara della Rovere.
We’ll continue to keep you company this winter, seeking to soothe and inspire—check in daily for Issue 87 stories, a new one will be posted everyday. We will get through this trickiest of years yet. Enjoy the reading.
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