In context with Carolyn Jervis

Works-to-Work Alumni, Carolyn Jervis, is the Director of the new John and Maggie Mitchell Gallery, a public gallery in MacEwan University’s new fine arts centre, Allard Hall.

Carolyn’s job now, in as simple words as possible, is to absorb works of art and the world they’re embedded in. This work can’t be contained in a nine-to-five work day, as any knowledge gained contributes to a richer context, informing and connecting all of Carolyn’s practices, like curating, programming, researching, and art writing.

Being the Mitchell Gallery’s only staff member, an average day for Carolyn might find her performing hands-on duties, like gallery sitting or erasing pencil marks from the white walls. But the bulk of Carolyn’s work is coordinating, planning, researching and thinking – puzzling out what it means to be a public gallery in the just-north-of-downtown neighbourhood. Brought on to ready the gallery for opening,  Carolyn curated the Mitchell Gallery’s first show, Where This Goes, a group exhibition of MacEwan Fine Art Alumni from various eras, now practicing all over the country.

 Photo courtesy of Blaine Campbell

Photo courtesy of Blaine Campbell

The show’s title is both a statement and prompt for reflection. Thinking of MacEwan’s decades-old fine art program as a starting point, we see 6 alumni trajectories. In conversation, Carolyn discusses the significance of studying the present work of alumni:  

I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of understanding where you come from, historically. Artists and all of us are discursive formations in some way and we’re embedded in these stories. What does it mean to look at artists who were part of the history of this program, who have been students in different periods of time and to look at their work together, the work that they’ve made in the present? In doing this, there’s a tethering between the past and present. Is there a sort of commonality that we’re seeing and does that tell us anything that’s meaningful?  

In terms of the gallery itself, Where this goes also points to the complexities of running a public gallery in an academic institution. It posits big questions, such as whom and what public does this public gallery serve? Carolyn acknowledges that museums are not neutral, referencing Mike Murawski and LaTanya Autry’s campaign and t-shirt that highlights the bias nature of museums, despite the over-arching narrative that museums are safe, neutral spaces, also implied by the white walls of a typical gallery space. Acknowledging bias and shedding the urge to develop “neutral” programming leaves a gap in the identity of a gallery that can be filled by examining the many overlapping communities within the gallery’s reach:

Thinking about the diversity of the neighbourhood, we have luxury condos, walk-up apartments, a lot of newcomers to Canada, a big urban indigenous population – we’re surrounded by a lot of people with different stories. If you’re thinking about being a public gallery, what public are we serving? These are the really big questions that we’re going to be working through and struggling through and asking lots of questions about – this year, and into the future, but pretty fundamentally now.

After receiving a BA from the University of Alberta, majoring in history of art and visual culture with a minor in women’s studies, Carolyn achieved a Master of Art degree in art history, critical and curatorial studies from the University of British Columbia. Outside of the Mitchell Gallery, Carolyn is also completing a research project about the Art Gallery of Alberta regarding access to public art for Syrian and other refugees. As a Works-to-work intern for three years between 2007 and 2010, Carolyn participated in the curatorial stream. Years following, she completed curatorial work for several arts institutions, and has made many writing contributions to major arts publications and exhibitions.

You can read Carolyn’s review of Ruth Cuthand’s artwork, Don’t breath don’t drink in C Magazine online.

Capital Boulevard Legacy Public Art Project – Canada 150 Public Launch Event

On Canada Day, Saturday July 1, The Places hosted a public celebration of the launch of the Capital Boulevard Public Art Project – Canada 150. This Project has seen the commission of five new original landmark sculptures along 108 Street between 99 Avenue and 104 Avenue. As of Canada Day three sculptures have been installed: at Site 1 (108 St between 99 Ave and 100 Ave) “Transect” by Firebrand Glass, at Site 2 (108 St between 100 Ave and Jasper Ave) “Start Gazer – Koo-Koo-Sint” by Voyager Art & Tile (Dawn Detarando and Brian McArthur) and at Site 5 (108 St between 103 Ave and 104 Ave) “world enough, and time” by Ken Macklin.

A candid shot of the Artists gather with Project Sponsors following remarks by Edmonton Centre MP Randy Boissonnault and DBA Executive Director Ian O’Donnell. 

This event welcomed the project to Downtown Edmonton, and celebrated the artists/artist teams. All artists were in attendance, and were joined by their guests, as well as Project Partners and Supporters at the Maquette Exhibit at the Legislative Assembly Visitor Centre. Attendees were then led on a walkabout of 108 Street to gather for congratulatory remarks from Edmonton Centre MP Randy Boissonnault and DBA Executive Director Ian O’Donnell at Mondo Café. 

Upon the installation of the final two sculptures later this summer – Site 3 (108 St between Jasper Ave and 102 Ave) “Sentinel” by Sandra Bromley and Site 4 (108 St between 102 Ave and 103 Ave) “Nature’s Harmony” by Leo Arcand – The Places will host another public event celebrating all five sculptures and the completion of the Project.

This Project is funded in part by the Government of Canada, with matching investments from partners: the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the City of Edmonton; and support from the Downtown Business Association, and The Works Society.    

Broadening the Dialogue: (Re)making the Canadian Nation by Yang Lim

    What does Canada mean as a “nation” and what types of discourses are created and disseminated about our country?  A number of exhibits in this year’s Works festival deal with this issue in different ways, which include those that the festival has curated and others that have been curated by its partner galleries.

 "A Possible Canada" asks visitors to post gratitudes, dreams, visions for a possible Canada.

"A Possible Canada" asks visitors to post gratitudes, dreams, visions for a possible Canada.

    Amy Loewen’s interactive installation A Possible Canada speaks to the issue of nation by representing a readily identifiable symbol for Canada in an artistic form and by asking the public to think about what they would like to see for Canada’s future.  As such, her work engages the public in a dialogue with her artwork as well as with each other, such that their ideas build upon each other and provide inspiration for further discussion.  Her installation consists of two parts.  The first is her artwork “O’Canada Project” that consists of a maple leaf woven out of rice paper strips, on which there are words identifying values for fostering harmony and relationships in 35 different languages.  The second part of her installation includes two notice boards that pose a question about the Canadian nation and invite the public to participate in envisioning what the Canadian nation can become in the future.  The board poses the question, “Post your gratitudes, dreams, visions for a possible Canada.”  People can write their thoughts on the provided sticky notes and post them on the notice boards; at the same time, they can browse through what others have written.  The sharing of ideas become a generator of dialogue and reflection and may even, perhaps, inspire people to action in their own ways in order to work towards that “possible Canada.”

 "A Possible Canada" by Amy Loewan, displayed in Edmonton City Hall during The Works 2017

"A Possible Canada" by Amy Loewan, displayed in Edmonton City Hall during The Works 2017

    In another sense, the exhibit What Have you Heard About Us? also speaks to the issue of nation by considering the ways in which cultural and political discourses have shaped public perceptions of indigenous and cultural minorities in Canada. Indeed, the concept of “nation” is inextricably linked with issues of identity because its cohesiveness depends on the circulation of predominant narratives that have served to exclude it.   This exhibit is a multidisciplinary art installation in which the artist collective ImagiNation Miscellany has created new artwork that explores how Canada’s indigenous and cultural minorities have been represented in stereotypical, reductive, or negative ways that elide the complexity of these peoples’ lives, experiences, and perspectives. 

 Results of a story circle in 2017, "What have you heard about us?" ImagiNation Miscellany

Results of a story circle in 2017, "What have you heard about us?" ImagiNation Miscellany

    As a whole, the artwork depicted includes sketches and photos on the exhibit walls as well as installation pieces.  For example, there are numerous popular associations with particular items or cultural practices that become identified with particular cultural communities or groups in the mainstream cultural discourses.  Two examples of this which are mentioned in the exhibit include martial arts and rice, both of which will likely cause people to think of the Asian community.  Although these associations are not invalid, they are problematic if these characteristics become identified as supposedly inherent traits of the group as a whole.  For example, not all people of Asian descent know martial arts, yet the representations of Asians in popular culture have perpetuated such associations by portraying Asian characters in rather limited roles: they are depicted as working in laundromats, convenience stores, and restaurants. Even though television shows such as Kim’s Convenience on CBC are a welcome addition because it includes Korean characters, which has not been seen very often on mainstream television, it is still taking place in the recognizable context of a convenience store.  As such, this may inadvertently contribute to the same reductive cultural discourses about Asian communities that does not really reflect the diversity of their peoples’ occupations in Canadian society.

    In the same way, the representation of the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon in The Simpsons is problematic because he has become engrained in the popular imagination as a quintessential South Asian person.  As one of the artists has written on one of the exhibit walls, Apu does not represent who he is.  It is true that Apu has some positive qualities such as the fact that he has a Ph.D. and harmonious family, but nevertheless he only owns a convenience store and speaks with an accent.  Furthermore, the 7-Eleven chain has used his image as a marketing tool to advertise its business, but by highlighting the characters’ qualities that may be stereotypically associated with that cultural community.

 "What have you heard about us?" by art collective ImagiNation Miscellany

"What have you heard about us?" by art collective ImagiNation Miscellany

    The exhibit also speaks to other issues that are faced by indigenous and cultural minority communities, such as the fact that the diversity of Canada’s population is not represented in various institutional contexts such as the educational setting.  One artist provides two coloured drawings that contrast the predominantly white composition of the Edmonton school staff’s demographics with the cultural diversity of its students.  Other artwork in the exhibit evoke the feelings of inadequacy and exclusion that people experience because of their inability to fit into Canadian society, whether this is physically due to their skin colour or the clothes that they wear. 

 “Grandma’s Garden” by Lynne Howard

“Grandma’s Garden” by Lynne Howard

    The exhibits in the partner galleries also speak to these themes of nationhood and the discourses that have been circulated to promote a national identity.  Two notable ones include the ones at the Alberta Craft Council and Latitude 53.  The Alberta Craft Council’s fibre art exhibition Women’s Hands: Building a Nation commemorates Canada150 and focuses on women’s achievements. This exhibit exemplifies an assertion and inscription of women’s achievements into Canada’s national narrative, which has historically excluded, marginalized, or trivialized their achievements.  In this exhibit, the act of representation functions as a form of agency that is mediated through an art form that may have been associated with domesticity or women’s work.  As such, this constitutes an appropriation of that art form in a way that empowers women by using it as a means to affirm their presence and achievements.

 “Settler’s Bonnet” by Pat Minton

“Settler’s Bonnet” by Pat Minton

Critic Sharon Marcus has commented on how fibre work has become more conceptual in recent years due in part to postmodernist influences, which has led to the creation of work that deals with various cultural and political issues.  Indeed, the range of work in this exhibit varies from the highly personal to the broadly societal.  For example, Lynne Howard’s “Grandma’s Garden” is a highly biographical series that provides an intimate look at the artist’s grandmother, as told through narrative and scenic snapshots associated with her life.  In doing so, Howard gives voice to her grandmother’s experiences and recognizes them as an important aspect of Canada’s story.  Pat Minton’s “Settler’s Bonnet” also acknowledges her grandmother’s contributions to building the nation in her own way through her personal achievements.

 “Do You Know These Famous Canadian Women?” by Ruth Walkden and Rose Brooks-Birarda

“Do You Know These Famous Canadian Women?” by Ruth Walkden and Rose Brooks-Birarda

In contrast, the quilted work “Do You Know These Famous Canadian Women?” takes a broader societal scope to its subject matter by depicting famous Canadian women who have made an impact on Canada as a whole.  Created by Ruth Walkden and Rose Brooks-Birarda, this work portrays several faces of Canadian women who have made their mark on Canada in various ways.  These include women in a wide range of disciplines, such as anti-slavery activist, publisher, teacher, lawyer, and journalist Mary Ann Shadd, astronaut Julie Payette, Olympic gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser, and notable Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak, among others.  In a similar vein, Sheralee Hancherow’s “Never Give Up” portrays female athletes whose athletic achievements may not have been widely known.  For example, her work mentions Chantal Petitclerc. the most decorated athlete in history, and Clara Hughes, who is the only athlete to have obtained multiple medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympics.  Other works focus on historical events or developments that have impacted significantly on women’s lives and contributed to their independence and agency, such as Jan Peciulis’s “Women’s Suffrage” and Sharon Johnston and Jennie Wolter’s “The Pill.”

 Big'Uns, exhibit by Dayna Danger showing at Latitude 53 

Big'Uns, exhibit by Dayna Danger showing at Latitude 53 

In a different sense, Latitude 53’s exhibitions Trumpet and Big‘Uns reflect on Canada as a nation as they draw attention to how national narratives and ideological discourses have excluded or silenced indigenous and other minority perspectives.  In Dayna Danger’s Big‘Uns, the life-size photographs of indigenous people constitute a means for individual and collective self-affirmation in two senses: as an affirmation of indigenous identities that have historically been stereotyped, misrepresented, and excluded from narratives of Canadian history, and as an affirmation of people with sexual orientations who continue to be misrepresented, objectified, or omitted from mainstream media.  As the exhibit description states, it “explores the act of reclaiming power over our own sexualities and bodies.”  Indeed, the use of antlers—associated with male animals—becomes a means for reclaiming a sense of power as they are held by the women in each photo.  

 Lee Deranger “Reconcile This” and Kazumi Marthiesen “71 Swipes” 

Lee Deranger “Reconcile This” and Kazumi Marthiesen “71 Swipes” 

    The exhibit Trumpet complements Dayna Danger’s work as it includes artwork that questions the contemporary political climate and encourages the public to consider stories and experiences that have been marginalized or excluded.  For example, Kazumi Marthiesen’s “71 Swipes” comments critically on the history of American naval bases that are still located in Okinawa, Japan to this day and the sexual crimes that are still committed against Japanese women by American military personnel stationed there.  Another work by Lee Deranger, entitled “Reconcile This” highlights how Nova Scotia’s history has failed to recognize indigenous perspectives or fully acknowledge the long-term effects of their mistreatment on indigenous communities today.  The work depicts what appear to be three scalps of indigenous women that are tacked against a wooden door, with the Nova Scotian flag set above it, thereby calling attention to the harsh reality of indigenous women who are still murdered or going missing today.

 Gerry Yaum photography exhibit at Latitude 53 

Gerry Yaum photography exhibit at Latitude 53 

    Similarly, Gerry Yaum’s photographs of impoverished people in Thailand also draw attention to unrecognized stories and experiences that have not typically been part of the mainstream discourse.  Despite their economic circumstances, Yaum’s work does not portray them simplistically as powerless victims with which viewers are asked to sympathize.  Instead, they are depicted as individuals with dignity and whose lives are not solely defined by their poverty; they are able to make a home for themselves, even though it is located in a garbage dump.  This does not discount the reality of their impoverished circumstances, but Yaum’s representation of them avoids stereotyping them as a collective group as his photos depict them as individuals with their own unique personalities and circumstances.

    Taken together, these are some of the exhibits in this year’s Works festival that approach the subject of the Canadian nation in their own ways.  What can be seen from this artwork is that Canada as a nation is composed not simply of one national narrative, but rather multiple narratives arising out of specific historical, political, and cultural circumstances that are continually in the process of being reconfigured anew by people in the present.  It is these narratives and the dialogue generated by them that comprise the ongoing body of stories about Canada.

Hidden treats and sneaky rewards by: Lucy Pauker, Curatorial Assistant.

The Works Festival of Art & Design is full of holes-in-pocket type secrets, the kind that are unexpected and sometimes sour, but at other times like finding out that the clanking in your dryer was a toonie all along. 

Performance artists merge with patrons and viewers on Churchill Square, sometimes their performances are known and expected, other times their movements and spectacles are unknown and unannounced even to the staff. 

   Photograph: Inside and Out by Kasie Campbell

Photograph: Inside and Out by Kasie Campbell

Hidden associations can also be found if The Works’ curatorial choices or more likely happenstance are carefully considered. One of my favourites is iHuman’s Graffiti wall, which for a day displayed “Defend the Sacred - Resist 150” next to City Hall’s equally large permanent Canada 150 sign. 

Kasie Campbell’s quietly momentous immersive installation is secluded in the small strip of grass, picnic tables and trees on the East side of the Square. Inside and Out sits like a squishy, wrinkled fleshy volcano, its skeleton a metal trailer, wheels engulfed by drooping girth. Inside and Out erupts with questioning and occasionally explosive patrons hourly. Despite of, or perhaps in spite of, the large vaginal looking entry into Inside and Out the piece feels surprisingly un-gendered, it feels uncomfortable and alive, it sits shaded, and dirty just outside the ring of conventional white cube gallery tents. Although soft, padded and cosy inside (its interior is lined with pillows and blankets) music pulses with a too-loud base, reverberating your chest and ringing your ears. Inside and Out, to me, has a queer reading of deep discomfort, of feeling trapped and controlled by your body, of having your flesh rebel. Through out the festival Kasie periodically performs with her child, Mav, both in costumes made from stuffed nylons, the same materials as the fleshy skin of the trailer. Kasie’s slowness oozes in comparison to Mav’s jerky childish motions, both are uncomfortable, and off-putting, they speak to me of repulsion of gender, and enforced identity based on physical attributes.  

Whether you are in it for the hidden treats, sneaky rewards, or the beer tent, the Works Art & Design Festival most likely has something up its sleeve (or staining its shirt) for you. 

Lucy Pauker is a multi-disciplinary artist from Toronto currently based in Halifax. She is about to complete the final year of her BFA at NSCAD, majoring in Intermedia. She is influenced by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Maggie Nelson, Simone Veil, Anne Carson, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Vivek Shraya, and Candice Hopkins (to name a few). Lucy uses intersectional queer and feminist approaches in order to make installations and performance utilizing textiles, ceramics, poetry and video. Lucy was awarded the Creative Innovators of Tomorrow Award upon her acceptance to NSCAD. Her work and collaborative publications have been shown in Canada, with one collaborative project in Europe and the U.S., her co-curated show (with Camila Salcedo) Ritual/Virtual was selected as a must-see by Canadian Art in 2016.

She would like to acknowledge the incredible work of many Femmes, Women of colour and allies that came before her, that have made possible the opportunities she has been able to access.


Mediations on Reality - Yang Lim

Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Author: Yang Lim

 "Sevihcra: Le Salon Slideshow" by Patrick Arès-Pilon and Sophie Arès-Pilon.

"Sevihcra: Le Salon Slideshow" by Patrick Arès-Pilon and Sophie Arès-Pilon.

How does the past signify and to what extent can this past be recaptured and made meaningful for the present moment?   And to what extent can certain stories and perspectives be told or understood, given the inevitable distance between the past and present?  The two exhibits Patrick Arès-Pilon and Sophie Arès-Pilon’s Le Salon Slideshow and Mitch Kern’s Upside Down and Backwards offer interesting and contrasting approaches to these issues, despite their seemingly different subject matter.

Patrick Arès-Pilon and Sophie Arès-Pilon’s Le Salon Slideshow will stimulate discussion and prompt reflection around what we consider to be significant about the past.  Providing an immersive installation that evokes a homey feeling and sense of nostalgia, it also functions as a work in the present moment that derives its meaning through the people who enter that space.  

Upon entering the installation, the public is invited to take a seat and watch a narrated slideshow, evoking days long past where families may have sat in the living room and watched a slideshow.   The reactions of the people as they watch the slideshow and listen to the stories being told about them are itself a process of dialogue in action: the confluence of image and narrative mutually creates meaning for each other.  The act of articulation ensures the historical narrative’s continuation in the present, even as its meaning is reshaped in relation to the audience who listens to it.

For example, one of the slideshows that Patrick Ares-Pilon and Sophie Ares-Pilon have shown was about their uncle who visited the Arctic from 1961 to 1963. As the slides progress, Sophie provides narrative commentary; people’s reactions to the slides, some of which are humourous comments, contribute to the flavour of the narrative.  The result is a communal sharing of the past, captured through a fleeting experiential moment that cannot be replicated as it is only tied to the very people who are in the audience at that given point.

Indeed, without a narrative context, images of the past are only just that—images that lack significance or connection with the present, even if they refer to settings, events, or other things that may be familiar to people who have not had any personal experience with them.

At the same time, the installation appears to reveal the inadequacy of what is there and what is lost about the past.  Perhaps what their installation suggests is that we can never fully recover the past; instead, what we can do is to preserve and share that past through the act of storytelling, which makes that past alive and meaningful for people in the present. 

In contrast to “Le Salon Slideshow,” Mitch Kern’s Upside Down and Backwards seems to tackle the issue of the past itself by reflecting on the temporal nature of the present and the nature of reality itself.  His installation consists of a small grey trailer that appears to be an innocuous object.  However, when it is placed in the middle of Churchill Square—clearly out of place in relation to its urban surroundings—it invites different reactions that range from curiosity and excitement to suspicion and scepticism.  The artist Mitch Kern invites people to come and sit inside the trailer, but not everyone is eager to do so.

 "Upside down and backwards" by Mitch Kern

"Upside down and backwards" by Mitch Kern

For those willing to enter the trailer, they may feel like nature photographers who blend into the landscape to take photos of wildlife.   The trailer has a narrow chamber onto which a camera lens is affixed, so an image of Churchill Square is projected onto the trailer’s interior wall, but upside-down and backwards.   People inside the trailer can watch what is happening on the square while hidden from view, much like watching a motion picture.  However, nothing is photographed or recorded and everything is transient and observable only as a fleeting, site-specific moment.  For Kern, then, Upside Down and Backwards functions as an “anti-camera” device because it is the opposite of what a camera does, which is to capture the past in still images.  

As such, Kern’s piece aims to get people talking about their experience through the lens of photography, which has historically been regarded as an “objective” medium through which reality can be represented.  The experience that people get will vary, thereby encouraging dialogue around what they see and perceive and, by extension, drawing attention to the constructed nature of “reality.”  In the same way, Le Salon Slideshow can be interpreted in a similar fashion—as an installation that asks for the public to reflect on how they perceive reality and what this may mean for the significance that they draw from it.

Yarn-bombing by: Selené Huff, Production Assistant.

In my time on The Works production team I have: built structures to put art on, helped to erect walls to hang art on, painted said walls and structures that art was hung on, and hung paintings/drawings/fibre art on pre-existing walls. I had never, however, hung a giant knitted piece of fibre art on a post…outside…in the open air…until last Saturday. 

It all started when I was helping open the tents ( in which the walls that I helped to erect, upon the art which I helped to hang, are contained) when I was flagged down by Joan Smith- “Quiltsmith” - and asked to help her cover two pillars in Churchill  square with knit fibre art. Before I knew it, I was teetering atop an 8 foot ladder being instructed and aided by Joan and her associate Heather, in the attachment of their fiber art garden to posts. This action is called “Yarn Bombing”. 

“Yarn-Bombing” or the act of covering a public space in knitting, is used to create a scene in order to bring awareness to the beauty and craftsmanship that goes into the creation of fibre art. In addition, I  helped to attach knitted stuffed birds to the tops of the pillars; or participated in “flash-flocking”. Joan and Heather will be unveiling a special piece of fibre art for Canada Day! Stay tuned to or drop on by Churchill Square for more details.


Selené Huff is a student at the University of Alberta pursuing a B.F.A with a focus in sculpture. Selené earned her Journeyman’s ticket and Red Seal in welding from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and is a long time Site Production volunteer for the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. She creates art that incorporates both her training in Fine Arts and her knowledge and experience of industrial construction. Selené is currently an intern for the Production Team at The Works Festival 2017. In her spare time, Selené is a certified Bikram and Rocket yoga instructor. She enjoys both teaching and practicing yoga in Edmonton. 

The Hidden Reveal - Yang Lim

Date: Thursday, June 29, 2017

Author: Yang Lim

What choices does an artist make when creating a portrait and to what extent is a person’s portrait inherently political?  At first glance, Carol Wylie’s series “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” in Manulife Place appears to be simply portraits of individual people standing or sitting against a backdrop of monochrome walls.  However, the historical trajectory of the artistic portrait tradition has tended to focus on prominent subjects or famous people as a means to affirm their status by casting their likeness into art.  Alternatively, another element in the historical development of the portrait tradition has been the growth of works that aim to portray a particular community by depicting people from it.  Inevitably, such a representation leads viewers to regard that person as a representative for that group as a whole, regardless of whether this is justified or not.

In contrast, Wylie’s portraits depict rather ordinary-looking people who are, nevertheless, individualistic as they each have their own sense of style, quirks, and relationship with the artist who is painting them.  Their representation in portraiture frustrates any attempts by people who may be seeking markers of authenticity or markers of identity that can help them to formulate their overall impressions of each person.  Instead, Wylie draws attention to the inadequacy of defining something by a name or appearance alone and prompts viewers to consider the people in these paintings more carefully in order to discern their lives and histories, even if our opinions can only be speculative and hypothetical.  

The paintings’ titles appear to refer to the person’s occupation, such as Wylie’s pieces “The Musician,” “The Student,” and “The Actor.”  However, upon closer observation, it would seem that they are not to be considered simply in a literal sense, but perhaps in a metaphorical sense.  Indeed, the work “The Musician” depicts a man with a long beard and glasses who is sitting in what appears to be a film director’s chair, without any indication otherwise that he is a musician; is this perhaps a reference to his role in filmmaking, which can be seen as a form of “music,” as the director is involved in realizing a vision by pulling all of the different components together?  Or could this person actually be a musician who is dressed a bit unconventionally?  Similarly, the obvious reference for the work “The Batman” could be the man’s t-shirt that has the Batman symbol, but perhaps this is also referring to something else about him that evokes the traits of that comic book character.

As for her other paintings, the origins of those titles are less clear and may perhaps refer to the person’s attitudinal or psychological disposition rather than an occupation.  For example, one of her other paintings is “The Student,” while another is called “The Philosopher.”  The artist also includes herself in a piece, which she titles “Self-Portrait.”   However, again, in this case what is interesting is what she has chosen to wear and the way in which she has chosen to position herself for the painting.  Again, it appears to prompt viewers to look beyond the title and appearance and to consider what may lie beneath.

In a different sense, the partner gallery Harcourt House delves into these unspoken and hidden perspectives in its exhibit “What’s Left Unsaid: 29th Annual Members’ Show”.  With works in a variety of mediums, these artists focus on subjects that range from realistic depictions of specific settings of people to more abstract representations of psychological states.  Works such as James Gaa’s “Diner” and Ranold Funk’s “End of the Road” prompt us to consider the hidden stories that underlie these places and objects, whereas other pieces that portray people in different emotional states draw viewers to recreate the narratives that have shaped their lives.  For example, Debra Bachman’s “Flares” appears to depict an elderly woman in distress or pain, although the cause of the woman’s current state is left open to interpretation.  In contrast, other works in the exhibit such as Sara Norquay’s “Phantom Self” and Krista Acheson’s “A Wish Resign’d” provide a more abstract visualization of psychological states that evoke a particular mood, rather than referencing any specific individual.

Nevertheless, in the same way that Wylie’s works seem to push viewers to consider the hidden meanings behind her portraits, the Harcourt House’s exhibit also seems to ask the public to look beyond the literal meanings of the people, settings, and objects being depicted and to consider the stories and experiences that lie beneath.  In this respect, both exhibits are arguably political as they challenge patrons to look at what they may literally see in a different way.



 Carol Wylie "The Brother" exhibited at Manulife Place during The Works 2017

Carol Wylie "The Brother" exhibited at Manulife Place during The Works 2017

Taking time to create by: Betty-Jo McCarville, Education Facilitator.

It was an incredible first day of Festival 2017 today. This year’s line up is truly inspiring - all the sights, sounds and smells of festival are energizing!

With all the great exhibits and performances to check out it is hard to say, but I believe I may have had one of the best vantage points from which to watch the festival come alive today. In the heart of the WorksShop, free public art making tent, I was surrounded by young and old, artists and amateurs alike, mostly determined by the sheer coincidence of who was walking by. Those members of the public who did stumble upon our tent and decided to stop to sit together, draw, paint and share a moment, made this day a truly magical one for me.

Robert was one such haphazard guest. With calm concentration he sat for while and made us this incredible drawing. Robert’s eagle, along with the many other works made in the WorksShop, will be featured on a public mural we will be piecing together over the next 12 days.

Come join us any day from now until July 4, 12-8pm on the South-East corner of Churchill square. We’ll be waiting with a ton of supplies and a tent full of creativity.

Betty-Jo (B.J.) McCarville is an artist and educator from Charlottetown, PEI. Currently pursuing an M.A. in Art Education at Concordia University, B.J. is dedicated to arts accessibility and finding creative ways to inject art into public life. Her work taps into the power of art and storytelling to connect, restore, inspire and transform. B.J. was awarded a 2016-17 SSHRC GSM Scholarship and a Faculty of Fine Arts Merit Scholarship upon entry to her M.A. Studies. She has formerly received two PEI Council for the Arts creation grants for Emerging Artists, as well as a Forum Jeunesse Bursary from Atelier Circulaire. Her work is included in the Charlottetown “Art in the City” collection as well as the Colart Collection of emerging Canadian artists in Montreal.

The Works Mosaic by: Becca Stephens, Volunteer Coordinator.

Have you ever looked at an intricate machine, and thought about all the different parts that are so vitally important to keep it running? Or pondered a beautiful piece of art, and wondered at all the work that must have gone into creating it? Earlier this month we had our volunteer BBQ and everyone who attended had the opportunity to create their own unique and beautiful mosaic. As people were creating these works of art, I couldn’t help but parallel this with The Works Festival. I think it is a lovely metaphor for all of our volunteers and the hard work they put in to make it possible for public to experience our festival each summer. Each volunteer is a beautiful and unique piece of color, each bringing their own talents and perspective to the table. Once all of these different pieces are put together, that is when they create something amazing and beautiful, that no individual could have done on their own.

Through my position I have gotten to know all of these amazing and interesting people. Coming from all different age groups,cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life, I get to hear about the many different experiences they’ve had that may have lead them to volunteer with us, as well as many of their life stories.

We have one repeat volunteer who has been battling cancer for years, but is the most kind-hearted and upbeat person I have ever met, always telling jokes and never failing to put a smile on my face.

There is another returning volunteer who is from the UK, and this is her second year with us. She’s very kind and sweet and chooses to spend some of her time here every summer volunteering with us!

We have other volunteers who amaze in the sheer amount of what they give. Some of them are with us all day every day for the entire festival. Others are full time moms, working full time jobs, and they still find time. Still others have been volunteering with the festival longer than I’ve even been alive (which is kind of incomprehensible to me). But these volunteers, each one of them with their experiences, eagerness, and wonderful personalities, are the pieces that create the beautiful mosaic that is our festival. 


Rebecca (Bexx) Stephens is an art student, originally from the Southern United States. She is currently entering her third year as a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at the University of Alberta, focused on painting and drawing. She will graduate with her BFA in 2019, and will then start her Bachelor of Education. Her art currently focuses on themes of nature and the environmental impact of humans. In 2015 she completed her I.B Art Diploma, had a painting shown in The Works, and was also awarded the Bob Maskel “Supporting Dreams” Scholarship. Since 2015 she has received two more scholarships, been commissioned for her work privately as well as commercially, received the honor of having a painting shown in the Alberta Society of Artist “Emerging Artist” show in both Calgary and Edmonton, as well as had work archived at both the University of Alberta as well as Thompson Rivers University. Aside from art, she spends her spare time reading, listening to music, long-boarding, and rock climbing.


by: Rochelle Dorosh, Production Assistant.


With the start of the Works Festival approaching quickly, the production team’s workload has ramped up. Our days are now fully occupied with installations, art pickups and project completions for a variety of exhibits. Since the start of our work term, the scale of our projects has increased. The riser we are currently building is the size of a king-size bed! As an architecture student, I often build miniature models of my projects, but this internship has shown me the challenges in working at a bigger scale. We have to consider weight, bracing, transportation, and environmental factors. The slight warp or bow in a 2”x 4” can alter our finished product. Sometimes ladders and paint roller extensions are required to span the height. Gravity seems to work against us. The construction techniques and joinery of materials is crucial in our projects, whereas wood glue is sufficient for my miniature models. Our projects need to be strong, as they must support artwork and last for more than one festival season. In comparison, my architecture models can easily shatter into a million pieces if dropped from desk height and are short lived.

Working in a team, rather than as an individual, has been very rewarding and a great relief given our workload! We have an opportunity to draw on the various backgrounds and skills that each member brings to the team. We learn from each other, problem solve together, and most importantly, we share the physical weight of our projects, literally!

Rochelle Dorosh is currently pursuing a Master’s in Architecture at the University of Calgary. She attended the University of Toronto, graduating from a Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture and Sociology with High Distinction in 2016. In 2012, Rochelle obtained a Diploma in Architectural Technology from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). As part of an arts-based project led by a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, she volunteered as an arts facilitator, working with young mothers experiencing homelessness. In 2010, she co-founded Francophilosophie, a fundraiser displaying the abilities of French speaking artists.  Francophilosophie supports a scholarship awarded each year to a French Immersion graduate at Harry Ainlay High School in Edmonton. Rochelle is interested urbanism, alternative housing, and the relationships that people have with the spaces they inhabit. 

The Artist Life

by: Vanessa Traub, Volunteer Coordinator.


Photo: Kasie Campbell at the Kennedale Facility Artist Residency

Being a Works to Work intern involves, well, work, but in that are invaluable experiences that teach, challenge and encourage the growth of emerging artists. Me and three other interns were given the opportunity to join in the creation of a sculpture for the festival behind the lead of local artist Kasie Campbell. Not only did Kasie invite us into her studio but she shared many stories of her transition from university to a professional practice, from the initial struggles of not having access to resources to managing a family and work. We all sat outside, asking questions while sewing away to create a collectively dynamic piece. However, this collaboration was more than just creating art. Through genuine curiosity and meaningful conversation I got a real look into ‘the artist life’.

Just a few weeks later, all the Works to Work interns went on a field trip to visit Kasie at her artist residency. In her eleventh and final month at The City of Edmonton Kennedale Facility, Kasie guided us in her exploration of using concrete in sculpture. She gave us a tour of her studio space and spoke to the challenge of juxtaposing visually organic objects with an industrial medium. After seeing her studio space we all sat outside in a quiet space to ask questions about Kasie’s residency and artwork, and even hear about her time as a Works to Work intern.

Getting the chance to work with an artist for the festival and seeing first hand what an artist residency looks does not happen everyday. These surprising interactions with Kasie are an example of the opportunities the Works to Work summer internship offers. The internship program strives to get interns involved in the Edmonton arts community and I’ve found it does exactly that.

Vanessa Traub is an artist based in Edmonton pursuing her BFA in painting at the University of Alberta. Her work has been featured in various fundraisers including the Edmonton Public School Foundation’s annual Ready to Frame auction. Vanessa’s past works speak to the impact of mental health on identity, and currently embraces childlike imagination. Recently, she has initiated an art program at the Edmonton Young Offender Centre teaching beginner and advanced classes. Vanessa strives to teach the youth invaluable skills that they can take as tools to explore their interests and the vast definition of art.

Backstage Basics

by: Linda Mullen, Marketing Assistant.

Ever wonder how things are run backstage at a concert or play? How did that giant set piece appear onstage in a blackout? How were pyrotechnics timed perfectly with the entrance of Beyoncé? Well, let me drop some knowledge on you and share one of the greatest tools used to make everything run according to plan: the stage bible. 

Every successful entertainment event you have attended has to be meticulously planned. Details must be thought of in order to ensure the enjoyment and safety of both the audience and crew. The stage bible, containing a wealth of information, is usually kept and created by a stage manager. Depending on the type of show being produced, content in the binder can differ. For The Works Street Stage, the main documents are stage plots and technical riders. Stage plots are drawings indicating location of instruments, performers and equipment onstage. Technical riders contain specific technical requirements such as what kind of guitar amp a band prefers or how many power sources they will need. Since The Street Stage will be presenting more than 80 performances, having other information like contact lists, band bios, schedules, contracts and stage inventory are important to be accessible. 

In order to build a stage bible you will need a 4” ring binder, a ton of tab dividers and labels. Sections should be clearly labeled and organized because backstage work is usually fast and done in very dim lighting. While a binder full of paper is not very high tech, it is imperative to a smooth show. The stage bible is only one of many tools used to keep audiences and crew safe and happy.

Linda Mullen is an emerging stage manager and theatre technician from Edmonton. She is currently in her third year of the University of Alberta’s B.F.A. Stage Management program. While her passion is in stage management, she is also a graduate of MacEwan University’s Theatre Production program. She enjoys all aspects of production and takes special interest in theatre lighting, scenic painting and drafting. Linda enjoys working in both theatre and festival
settings. In her spare time, she likes to be in the fresh air, whether it is hiking in the mountains or walking in the Edmonton River Valley. Select theatre credits include Twelfth Night (Studio Theatre), @Tension (Viral Flock), Nice Work If You Can Get It (MacEwan), Curtains and Heathers: The Musical.

Just Ask

by Susan Winters, Volunteer Supervisor


This past winter, The Works was selected to participate in artsVest, a Canadian training program that connects arts organizations with local business. This training consists of online modules, webinars, peer-to-peer discussions and mentorship sessions with experienced arts administrators. Apart from expanding my sponsorship vocabulary and refining my pitching strategy, the biggest lesson I take from artsVest training is to ask for exactly what you want. Ask specifically and realistically. Without such epiphany, I would have never had the guts to ask longtime volunteer department supporters, Cookies By George, to sign onto a 3-year sponsorship contract. They gladly agreed to it and now we’ve secured a 3-year supply of cookies for our deserving volunteers. However, this deal has little to do with my strategic pitching and far more to do with the generosity of this sweet business.

I used to perceive dissonance between the arts and business. There’s something uncouth about the logo soup found on the backs of programs, on the footers of webpages and embedded in our favorite organizations’ letterhead. Marketing seems like a trick and the act of “cultivating a sponsor” seems morbid.

Through artsVest we’ve been prepped to speak to the needs of a business’s marketing strategy. But the businesses that support the volunteer department seldom care about the return on their investment. When we reach out for support, it’s members of the community that reach back with generosity and we’re eager to thank them with whatever we can offer, even if it’s just the logo on the footer of our webpage.  

Susan Winters is a writer based in Edmonton, Alberta. In 2017, she was selected to participate in the National Screen Institute’s Features First program. Her writing can be found in literary magazines such as Canthius Journal, This Side of West and (parenthetical). In 2016 she was twice shortlisted for PRISM international’s poetry contest, and placed second in the Blodwyn Memorial Prize for poetry. She won Best Screenplay through the Reel Shorts Film Festival with script Little Thailand in 2014, which she directed in 2015. In addition to holding a degree in Screenwriting from the University of Victoria, she is a Fine Art graduate of Grant MacEwan University

The house

by: Gabriel Soligo, Production Assistant


It’s said that the best athletes can make their actions look effortless—at The Works we seek the same graceful execution year after year. On June 22nd Churchill Square will be vibrating with a thousand excited voices; we hope that all that action is enough to mask the weekdays, evenings, and long weekends worked in anticipation of the festivities. Our labour of love may execute effortlessly on the tiles of Churchill but all those overtime hours when the staff of The Works are hustling the most take place in McCauley.

Yes, follow the bread-crumb-trail of screws and bolts away from Churchill Square and you will find a proud two-story house at the corner of 106a and 95th street which is the heart of the festival. Home of The Works and it’s staff, this house looks ordinary from outside but if you venture inside you will find a hive of activity. Somehow this whole festival fits in a space the size of a large family home. Within these walls we pick our artists, sign contracts, design our guide, build props, recruit volunteers, —take five—, and organize every bit of what you’ll see on the streets of Edmonton during those long late-June days.

All of us employees come together in the corridors and crannies, the deep basement, and the hot top-floor to share idea’s. It’s through this sharing that we are are able to put on the largest free art and design festival in North America. Without the dialogue that we foster together there would just be a few busy bodies working on our own projects in a big house, we know that it’s only through the conversations we have with each other that we are able to transform The Works into something bigger than it’s constituent parts.

Gabriel Soligo is an artist and designer who works within various media and textile art forms. Originally from Peterborough, Ontario—he is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in the Intermedia program at NSCAD University in K’jipuktuk (Halifax), Nova Scotia. Gabriel has forged a theory focused art practice—honing skills in fashion design and construction, textile structure, video, sound engineering, and is generally adept at working with hands-on materials. 

His recent artistic interests have been into ideas of alienation vs. collectivity, processes of exchange, and non-immediacy as a nurturing practice. In 2017, Gabriel completed his first collection of clothing and also celebrated his first solo exhibition. He has won several academic scholarships including the Robert G. Merritt Memorial Scholarship, Robert Pope Foundation Undergraduate Award, and the Nova Scotia Talent Trust.

2017 !

by: Betty-Jo McCarville, Education Facilitator

The Works kicked-off our 32nd Festival season yesterday with a successful media launch at the Matrix Hotel. 

2017 is a year for dialogue, and one such vein for sharing our ideas and experiences will be right here on the Works Blog. Stay tuned for new posts by this year’s internship participants over the coming weeks.

Exercise your right brain

by Ben Garcia, Production Assistant


The arts are good for you. Literally. Study after study show the positive impacts on your health when making art - from reducing stress and anxiety, increasing positive emotions, and reducing the likelihood of depression, just to name a few. 

That being said, I want to show you how to make your very own custom stamps.


- Erasers

- Lino/Stamp cutting tool/Xacto knife

- Cutting mat

- India ink/ink pad


1. Draw or transfer (with tracing paper) your design onto the eraser. 

2. If you’re using a lino cutting tool, use the small ‘v’ shaped blade in the cutting tool to cut around the outline of your design and the flatter blade to cut away the larger areas. The goal is to cut away any negative space. 

3. When you’re happy with your design, ink up your custom stamp and print away.

So go ahead, be creative, and exercise your right brain. You’ll be a healthier and happier human for doing so.

Ben Garcia is an emerging photographer from Edmonton, AB. He recently completed a Photographic Technology diploma from NAIT. His interest lies in storytelling through provocative and intimate imagery. This year his work was selected for Alexis Marie Chute’s Infocus Photo Exhibit. Moreover, he was featured in Photolife magazine’s 25 emerging photographers to watch in 2016. To view more of his work, please visit