These Places We Built

By Alexandre Pépin, Exhibit Production Assistant

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Every artwork needs a space to exist, to be experienced. As a production technician intern at The Works Art and Design Festival, I worked with a team of other artists to create spaces for various artworks to be displayed. Building up these white gallery spaces required knowledge, effort, energy and commitment. These often long, exhausting installations got me to start thinking more about the important role these white, almost invisible gallery spaces play in the artistic practice.

I love the generic nature of this space.  The presence of lights, of masking-taped and drawn lines and of patched and cleaned walls indicates that everything is ready to be experienced but the art. In the absence of art, the space emphasizes the purest form of artistic regulation, informing any viewer that what was there or will be there is art—regardless of what will actually happen to the space. This context begs the question: Does the value of art lie in its presentation–the strategies we use to elevate art–or in the work itself?

As both an artist and a production technician, I found the experience of building a space to be very similar to the process of creating an artwork. If many artists are finding inspiration directly from what is in their studio, I wonder how important the hidden aspects of gallery norms influence an artist’s work.

 

Volunteering at The Works

By Vanessa Mastronardi, Curatorial Coordinator

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I really believe that one of the most important things that The Works gives to its volunteers is the opportunity to lead public tours around the city to talk about our art exhibits. If you’re a person who isn’t in the midst of a fine arts degree, or heavily involved in the city’s art community, it can be really daunting to find a venue to think and talk about art. The Works Training in Art program (TART) empowers individuals who have an interest in art to take on a facilitator’s role in engaging with the public about work in the festival. There are no prerequisites needed in order to become a tour guide, you just need to be interested and attend the orientations.

Personally, I can be pretty shy when it comes to public speaking, so I was surprised at how many volunteers jumped at the idea of leading tours. Then again, I surround myself with other fine art students and spend an absurd amount of time talking about art. It made me realize the need for people who aren’t in my position to have a space to have the same important experiences. There are 39 tours throughout the festival, and almost all of them were filled with volunteers guiding. It was so exciting to here about different conversations and even healthy arguments that happened during these tours.

I hope that the tours helped volunteers to realize that conversations with strangers about art can create realizations in both parties that neither would have come to on their own. Maybe next time we won’t whisper to each other about our opinions in the art gallery so that the people around us won’t hear; instead, we’ll challenge each other and end up with conclusions we hadn’t expected.

Find out more about volunteering at The Works here: http://www.theworks.ab.ca/volunteer/

The Conversation of Art

By Nathan Levasseur

imagePhoto: Sara French as Reena Smith at Buying and Selling

The Works to Work Internship has given me the opportunity to meet and work alongside professional artists, both local and national, up and coming artists, students, volunteers and the public.

During the internship I was fortunate enough to discuss many topics including systematic oppression, Canadian colonialism, male privilege, power and hierarchy both pre and during festival. The pre-festival discussions were facilitated by Stephanie Bailey and ran through May for four hours a day. During this time our group had many class discussions and workshops, some facilitated by artists, the most notable being Dawn Marie Marchand. Marchand discussed pan-indigenizing, Canadian colonialism, residential schools and multi-generational violence. I found the discussion to be very positive and I hope to engage in more discussion and become more active in community.

 During festival I had positive conversations with performance artist Reena Smith and my supervisor Olivia Chow. Reena and I discussed alternative housing styles and personal fulfillment through ‘home’ and space. Her exhibit, Buying and Selling,  in collaboration with the Department of Unusual Certainties (DoUC) provides insight into these themes. Olivia and I discussed gender and performance through video and installation. This conversation was sparked by Tony Olivares’ performance at The Works Gala.

 In conclusion it was the people I met, the relationships I formed, the discussions and the sharing of information that made the internship meaningful.

On the Politics of Festival Design

by Ali Louwagie, Production Assistant

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A couple of years ago the layout of The Works Art & Design Festival changed in order to separate the art market vendors from exhibiting feature artists, raising the question of where the line lies, if it exists at all, between the two.  Oddly enough, it was my landlord who first asked me this one evening as he was fixing a pipe that had burst in the basement. Amidst sodden towels and dripping ceiling tiles, I found that I could only explain my own opinion of why a line should be drawn.

As an artist I often receive feedback based on marketability; whether a viewer approves or disapproves of my work is oftentimes communicated by a remark of “I would buy that” or “That would never sell”.   There is an expectation that art is a product to be bought and sold, perpetuating a perceived value in the demand of consumers.  Highlighting exhibits like Matthew Walker’s Device for the Emancipation of Landscape and Sara French’s Buying and Selling encourages the public to interact with work that challenges these expectations.

My general impression is that the former layout of the square seems to have been popular among the attending public, with Churchill Square resembling something more of a market place in comparison to the current layout.  I recognize the appeal of wandering about and perusing stalls; however, I am of the opinion that one’s experience with artwork should be greater than a simple appraisal of commodity. This is where the line was drawn, where the value lies in seeing and experiencing the work instead of  “I would buy that”.

Why Edmonton?

By Lucille Frost, Marketing Coordinator

This is a question many locals ask themselves while they bear through the long cold months of winter and one that I have answered many times in the years I have lived here. The feeling of triumph every spring when the city blooms back to life and the bleak grey sky transforms to the kaleidoscope of color. I choose to stay in Edmonton because of the way the sky and the city transform itself into living art every year, this is what I draw my creative inspiration from. Without the stark contrast in the seasons I would not be able to appreciate the transformation for its brevity and for its sublime power.

As an artist I find myself bonded to this meeting of sky and land, to the proportions of our horizons. When I have traveled and returned I find that I must reacclimatize to the overwhelming size of the sky stretching above, to the vast expanses of this intangible beauty that is always evolving. I fall in love with the combination of color and form that are created in the sky-scape, I fall in love and moments later the masterpiece I adore has drifted away and a new composition sits before me. The way the sky decorates our city is one of the things I love most about Edmonton being the home to The Works Festival, it is like having a performance piece constantly transitioning over the festival and engaging an experience entirely unique to this place and time. 

Behind-the-Scenes with a Production Intern

By Kaida Kobylka, Production Assistant

This summer, my main job as a production assistant was to make sure nobody noticed the immense effort that goes on in the months and intense weeks prior to the beginning of Festival. Throughout May and June, we spent long days making sure that our work was never seen at all. When I was a member of the public, I never gave a thought to how the walls in the big tent were raised, how each room was measured out to fit the artwork hanging in it, or even how the walls themselves were constructed. I never noticed the wiring that was hidden throughout the big tent to light the exhibits, or that there are a completely different kind of walls that stand differently in other venues, like city hall. I never thought that somebody was behind-the-scenes building and painting and placing about 70 stanchions (which have the same purpose of pylons) around the square. But that is all a production intern’s job: to make sure that people never even think about how the art got to the venues and how it is hanging there.

When I was a member of the public last year, of course I never noticed the production team’s efforts, but I also missed something else—the artists who are present on the square. Many artists help set up their exhibits and assist the volunteers during the festival to explain it. Some artists are even there every single day! I applaud the commitment displayed by the artists and I really admire all their efforts. Now, as an intern, I see everything at the festival, and it only makes it more amazing in my eyes.

Dawn Marie Marchand at The Works: a place to hang your stories

By Cassandra Northrup, Marketing Assistant

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Details: Photograph of St. Paul’s Residential School in Cardston, Alberta

This year The Works Art & Design Festival is displaying 51 exhibits. One of the exhibits that I am especially interested in is an installation by Dawn Marie Marchand titled a place to hang your stories.

Marchand’s installation is an extension of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She is offering an opportunity for those affected by Alberta’s Indian Residential Schools to have their voices heard. As you walk through the installation, you see paper tiles all along the walls that hold the stories and experiences of survivors and family of survivors of the Residential Schools. There is an area of Marchand’s installation where a child sized desk is set up. This desk is meant to represent just how small the Aboriginal children were when they were taken from their homes and sent to the schools. There is also a section of the installation that has a blackboard for those who have experienced Marchand’s work to be able to express how it makes them feel or to write about their own stories related to the Residential Schools. With her installation, Marchand is aiming to raise awareness about the systemic oppression that occurred for hundreds of years and plays such a big part in Canada’s history. She is hoping that her installation will provide a kind of healing for those who have been directly or indirectly impacted by the Residential Schools.

I know that Marchand’s installation will be sure to get people talking, so I am interested to see what sort of impact will take place on the patrons who visit her installation. 

Marchand’s installation can be found in the Big Tent on Churchill Square. Find out more here: http://www.theworks.ab.ca/festival-exhibits/

A Sneak Peak into the Life of a Design Assistant

By Bianca Ho, Design Assistant

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My reasons for wanting to join The Works stemmed from my interest in fine arts, desire to actively design throughout the summer, and the need for practical design experience. I felt it was a good way to place myself in an unfamiliar environment and learn to interact and work with others through design. There are numerous things that school has prepared me for, but there are also as many things that school could not. In school, I have been taught how to think conceptually and apply technical skills, but the opportunity of working with non-designers or variety of departments are rare or non-existent. Moreover, instructors can simulate projects and deadlines for students in the classroom setting, but a deadline in the professional design world is not the same.

I knew I was not completely prepared for the intense workload, especially the festival guide and media kit, but I am not sure if there has ever been a time I felt that way. It was my first time having to work with written content that I had not prepared. At first, the anxious feeling of waiting upon others before I could do my job was nerve-racking. Later on, I learned to accept the situation, relax, and trust my co-workers. The festival guide and media kit are not novel features to The Works Festival. Despite the unavoidable setbacks, these deliverables had been completed in previous years and I knew that this year would be no different. There were definitely times when I doubted my abilities. Thankfully, I had experienced and supportive staff around me to lead me.

The best part comes after the design work is done and a physical copy is in my hands. Time after time, I don’t think the feeling ever changes. It doesn’t matter how miserable, unconfident, or tired I may have felt before, the final product is always rewarding. It was terrifying to be working on a project that I didn’t completely understand, but I think that the only way to understand it was just to do it.

Check out our Festival Guide here: http://www.theworks.ab.ca/festival2014/

Photo Credit: Bianca Ho

Media Launch at The Works

By Kristin Watt, Marketing Assistant

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Media Launch: Works staff participate in Françoise Thibault’s I See You, which will be displayed on Churchill Square (June 19-July 1, 2014)!

As part of the marketing team at The Works Art & Design Festival, I participated in all the long hard hours that went into the preparation of the Media Launch which took place on June 2nd at the Matrix Hotel. The media launch had a great turn-out with a lot of support from the media, volunteers, staff, and vendors. The production and curatorial staff set-up some art work for display, giving media a glimpse into all the amazing work that will be shown at this year’s Festival. (You can it out for yourself in our Festival Guide: http://www.theworks.ab.ca/festival2014/). Meanwhile, the marketing team and I confirmed the media contacts for the event, built the media kits, and welcomed and thanked all who attended the launch. As in previous years, the cartoonist and illustrator, Gerry Rasmussen, captured the event and everyone who attended in his signature humourful style.

Last weekend we also took part in the Pride parade by handing out our festival guides and postering the surrounding neighbourhoods. The Saturday “poster blitz” was a great way to kick off Festival season! For the weeks to come, I will be focusing more on Festival special events, which includes collecting contracts from artists for our main stage–The Works Street Stage. The opportunity to be in contact with so many interesting performing artists is a fantastic experience, and I look forward to working with them as I assist with coordinating the stage activities during Festival.

June 19 - July 1: Music and performances from noon-9:30PM on Churchill Square. For a full schedule, check out our Festival Guide or http://www.theworks.ab.ca/street-stage/!

The Works Training in Art (TART) Program

By Emily MacDonald, Curatorial Coordinator

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Image taken from http://ville-noire.com/

Contemporary art has more market value in the 21st Century than ever before thanks to online sales and art auctions. In this highly commercialized art world, the commodification of art intensifies, threatening to compromise the social and cultural agency of the works.  A public art festival, however, has the potential to work against this trend by engaging the community, and thereby restoring art’s social, political, and cultural agency.

The Works Art & Design Festival bridges the gap between the public and art and with the development of the festival’s TART: Training in Art leadership program, this gap is closing. Rather than a focus on information dissemination or docent-public relationship, the TART education model trains volunteers to lead the public to be active participants in meaning creation.

In the 1980s, American artist Martha Rosler observed that  the  public was being replaced by audiences. Fellow artist, Anton Vidokle, illustrates Rosler’s distinction between audiences and the public by asking us to imagine a movie theatre. In the theatre, according to Vidokle, audiences sit passively absorbing content, rather than other situations where the public is encouraged to participate in a more active way. In other words, “[a]udiences are groups of consumers of leisure  and  spectacle; they have no political agency and no necessary means or particular interest in affecting social change.  My  feeling  is  that  what  Rosler  observed  in  the  80’s  is  now  a  fait  accompli:  the   audiences for art have become enormous, but there is no public among them”  (Vidokle, 2009).

The public is an important element that contributes to the cultural, social, and political energy of art. This value can sometimes be overlooked when our cultural institutions cater to niche audiences of contemporary art. The publics are sometimes left with an intimidating experiences of contemporary works and this is often the struggle with many public art projects. I often encounter those who are frustrated with these projects because they feel that there is inevitably always a concealed meaning behind the work that is inaccessible. A major barrier to art interpretation is that we tend to see works as a veil. Whether there is anything behind a veil or not, it creates the assumption that there is hidden or concealed content that we cannot access.

Although the TART program has a heavy emphasis on facilitating dialogue and meaning creation, volunteers also learn technical aspects concerning form and composition. This is an amazing experience for any volunteer with an invested interest in The Works Festival. It is an opportunity for growth, to develop as a leader, and to be mediators between art and the public showing people how to come to conclusions on their own rather than pulling back the veil.

Find out how to volunteer for The Festival here: http://www.theworks.ab.ca/volunteer/

Text Crutch: Kelsey Fraser

A Skype interview with Kelsey Fraser, who will be showing work at Text Crutch, curated by Robert Harpin. The show will run from October 26 - November 2, 2013 at The Works Gallery at Jackson Power (9744 60 Ave). The opening reception will be held on October 25th, 7 - 10pm. 

What are your influences?

I am influenced by awkward moments, both moments I’ve had personally and moments I’ve witnessed—like the quirks of humanity, the quirks of each individual. And I’m influenced by country music lyrics. As far as artists go, I’m influenced by Ian Stevenson, Mira Calman, and David Shrigley.

I don’t know if they approach it that way, but I view [their work] as a very child-like sense of exploration. They all have an innocent way of viewing the world, which is often times very funny—commenting on our insecurities in a way that’s amusing.

How do you incorporate text into your work?

It’s kind of a new thing for me. In my last year at ACAD I started using text in my work and I was hesitant to begin using it because I was unsure how text would influence how a viewer viewed my work. I guess I use it very sparingly. By just giving a little hint to the viewer or a little sentence that they can then read in their mind or out loud—however they choose to view the work. They kind of become part of the work through their own inner monologue, I guess.

Many of your works are really funny. How do you use text for comedic effect?

Again, I go back to the notion of childhood with ideas of play and exploration with language. Some words are really funny, just on their own or if you break them up or if you space them slightly differently or play them back-and-forth with an image. I really love creating little sentences or declarations in my work that I feel the viewer will then become implicated in—whether they want to be or not—by basically reading what I’ve written. It kind of puts them into this situation—whether they want to be there or not… my work [tries] to incorporate the inner voice of the viewer.

I don’t’ really know how it’s viewed, but whether you write something large or small or the font you use it creates its own little character. And it can be more child-like or more aggressive or meek in how you write something. For me, when it comes to that, I might not consciously think about the style I’m writing in. But I do consciously think about how large or small I write something, depending how I want it to be viewed. I guess it’s more about the spacing, for me. And how it’s situated in the room, where it is on the wall, and if there’s a conversation happening between different text pieces. When I view other text-based work, sometimes I do think about how the actual word was written and imagine myself writing that word.

I did a piece once where I filmed myself writing. I just had a camera in one hand, and I was writing with the other hand. And it was really not very well filmed, obviously—in an out of focus because it was on autofocus. And I didn’t realize really what I was doing at the time. But it became very funny, after looking back at it to see where I would pause. I would pause when I didn’t know how to spell a word. That was pretty humorous because I don’t know how to spell many words. Or if you choose to punctuate something or how hard you choose to press down on the paper can really bring home a point.

[I used the video] for a presentation in my fourth year, where we had to give an artist talk. I introduced different subjects with the video… I would like to come back to that. It kind of overshadowed everything else I did in my artist talk. These short video clips took on a funny life of their own. They became a piece of their own.

How do you interpret the title Text Crutch?

As far as using text as a crutch in your work—that’s cool if you do. It’s all up to the viewer to interpret it. If you need words to help your work along—like a little pick-me-up—then go for it! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I guess I enjoy work that takes a little bit more to decipher. I guess I like to invest a little more time in it, and if I feel like it’s just one-dimensional, I’ll move on quicker. I don’t know if I’ve experienced much art that’s used text in that way. Usually I find text adds another element to the work. Just another layer. 

Kelsey Fraser has a BFA in Drawing from the Alberta College of Art and Design. 

This interview is brought to you by TickTalk at The Works.

Text Crutch: Jennifer Konanz

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A Skype interview with Jennifer Konanz, who will be showing work at Text Crutch, curated by Robert Harpin. The show will run from October 26 - November 2, 2013 at The Works Gallery at Jackson Power (9744 60 Ave). The opening reception will be held on October 25th, 7 - 10pm. 

How do you incorporate text in your work?

I’m getting into sign painting. So, I’m not concentrating as much on art pieces as much as learning how to sign paint and using text in that way. So, that’s sort of a new way for me of incorporating text. It almost feels like I treat it as an image because you’re making these words really sort of come to life and have their own presence. A lot of times there are few words too. So it almost feels like the words are more becoming images now with the sign painting.

Do you consider the signs works of graphic design or art?

I think the handcrafted quality of it makes it start to feel along the lines of the artistic. In terms of concept, like if you’re making a sign for a specific purpose, you can’t make them ironic or things get confusing—obviously. But I mean in terms of the aesthetic, I think there’s lots of opportunity to play with that.  And that, I think, crosses into the artistic realm. With so much stuff being digital and done on the computer, I think that branch of design is clearly establishing itself as separate from what art is trying to do. But the old graphic design and the old way of doing things was more like working with your hands or painting or making stencils and stuff. That feels more like a cross between the art and design worlds.

 So you think the divide between graphic design and art has widened due to technological advancements?

I think that the process of working through visual problems has become a little different: it tends to be a lot faster. So, attention to certain things has changed because you’re building words and you’re building images so quickly and you’re able to go back and forth, and just make such quick decisions. It depends on how you approach it because the computer is just a tool—like everything else—I think it can be just as artistic. But I think there’s a large amount of people who are maybe not treating it that way. I see a lot of good stuff and see a lot of ways, I think, where the computer is over-relied on, which I think kills a little bit of that artistic aspect to it, in my opinion.

How is working with text different than using other design elements?

I think because of the obvious meaning attached to words, I think it’s a bit more [difficult to use]. When you’re using it in an ambiguous way or in a more creative way or artistic way, I think it’s even more difficult to use. Maybe that’s why I didn’t use it for the longest time, until graphic design made it safer for me to use. I played with it more, and then I was like, okay, I kind of know how to break it apart and treat it so that it’s not so literal. I think it can become really literal, which is what makes it really hard to get away from … Someone I really appreciate, again talking about using text as images, is the designer Stefan Sagmeister, where he actually takes words and makes them out of objects and photographs them. They’re text but they’re images, but then you also read them as objects. So that’s an interesting way to break the text apart. The meaning behind it that you’d obviously come to starts to break down and that’s where I think some really interesting things start to happen. So, I’d like to make more stuff like that.

What sign will you be showing at Text Crutch?

The one I’m planning for The Works is playing off the function of a sign being very obvious. So, I think it really works with how I’d like to work with text. Sometimes I have to be very literal with it. Obviously, when I’m making signs for a purpose—it has to communicate what it does. But this is sort of a fun opportunity, where I get to be a bit more ambiguous with it.

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Handcrafted signs by Jennifer Konanz. 

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From Having Guts Always Works out for me, Stefan Sagmeister

Text Crutch: Cindy Baker

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A Skype interview with Cindy Baker, who will be showing work at Text Crutch, curated by Robert Harpin. The show will run from October 25- November 1, 2013 at The Works Gallery at Jackson Power (9744 60 Ave). 

“I don’t make art that incorporates language. I make art about language—that explores language. Language is the first thing that comes to me before the aesthetic, before the visual. I’m working with words and I want to explore those words. So, they’re not a crutch; they’re my medium of choice”

1) Who is Cindy Baker?

I’m a contemporary interdisciplinary and performance artist, based in Lethbridge, Alberta, which is a long and wordy way of saying that I’m an artist that makes things and does stuff. Basically, I’m not tied to any specific media in my work. I make whatever I need to make and I do whatever I need to do to get across the ideas or explore the ideas that I’m interested in exploring.

2) What will you being showing at Text Crutch?

It’s a series of rugs, called, “Welcome to Reality.” It’s called “Welcome to Reality” because they’re welcome mats and all the text on them are taken from reality T.V. The idea for welcome mats came from the concept of wanting to make work that people understood immediately as an object from the get go, but to turn it on its head from the very beginning and say, “wait a minute, these don’t say what I expect them to say.” And therefore make people think about them as much as they can without having to broach the fact that they’re artworks.

I started making objects that didn’t look like art because I was a bit disillusioned with the art world—and this was many years ago, shortly after I was finished my undergrad at the University of Alberta. And I just thought, man, you know, people look at art and they recognize it right away and say, “Oh, it’s art; I don’t have to think about that.” Because we don’t think about art! And they parcel it away in their brain and they never think about it again. So I wanted to start making objects so that people would say, “Oh, my grandmother could make that. Or, I’ve seen those in craft sales, but there’s something weird about it.” Sort of hook them into thinking about it before they even realize that it was something they didn’t want to think about.

People in our culture, I think, are more visually literate than they give themselves credit for, and that’s where the problem is. It’s not that they don’t know how to look at things, it’s that they think they don’t know how to look at things. And, so they say, “Oh, I can’t understand that; I can’t look at that; I don’t get it.” And, yet, they’ll watch T.V. and they’ll understand things that happen in the story not because they are told them literally but because there are visual clues. In all sorts of visual media, people understand things and learn things that they’re not even realizing they’re understanding and learning because they think that they don’t get that kind of thing.

So, using words in my art is a way to say, “I need you to understand right away that you get this, and once you understand that you get it, then I can throw in visual clues and do things visually.” This gets them to think, “Yeah, I’m on side already and I get it and now I understand what’s going on visually.” Sort of lull them into complacency and then, ha! they’re looking at art and they like it!

3) Why did you choose latch hook rugs as your medium?

Craft is really important to me because of what it says about gender and the role of women’s work in the world—the value of women’s work in the world as well as the value of women’s work i.e. craft in the art world, specifically. It’s been so devalued, not just in our culture, but really, specifically in the art world. Things that women do that take a lot of skill, a lot of effort, a lot of learning, and a lot of time—it’s definitely not seen as having as much value … So there’s that on top of the fact there’s a lot of dichotomies in my work. I really like to explore things that are not necessarily two-sided—things that are not necessarily black and white—but if you present them that way then there’s all this weird grey area in the middle that people say, “Wait a minute, you forgot all this grey area.” And then again, we’re like, okay, now we’re talking: You figured that out on your own, now let’s talk about it. So, welcome mats, which are mass produced: if you make a welcome mat but it takes you hundreds of hours to make it, then what is that saying? What is it saying if you’re putting all this love and energy and time into something that is meant for people to y’know wipe their dirty boots on? And things like that come up again and again in my work.

Latch hooked rugs are also not just a form of craft, but a form of low craft.  There is high craft – like ceramics and things you find at the local craft council gallery, for example. And those things are valued as far as craft goes and then there’s low craft, or abandoned craft, or forgotten craft—the types of things you would’ve done as a kid that you don’t see in shops as finished objects and you don’t even see in stores anymore as things you can buy as craft activities because they’ve fallen out of favour, or fallen by the wayside. Latch hook is something that kids today they don’t even know what it is because it mostly was invented in the 70s and then disappeared as quickly as it appeared because it is so labour intensive as a craft … And it’s also tacky, visually. Usually, it’s polyester. It can be wool as well, but it has a really, really specific look that fell out of favour as a certain visual aesthetic of its time—y’know like bell bottoms, and mushrooms and daisies and that kind of thing.

4) “Welcome to Reality” transcribes the spoken word. What do you think happens in the act of transcription?

It’s really fascinating to me that the way each person talks is completely different from the way each person writes. We all speak differently from one another—we all have our own ways of communicating. But also, when I write something down and then try to speak the same ideas out loud, I don’t use the same words at all. I wouldn’t emphasize the same things, not even necessarily the same ideas. So, I’m totally interested in the gap between those two things. What is it that goes missing when we formulate an idea on paper and make it as strong as we can and get that idea just perfect as opposed to when we say it out loud and we manage to capture something that is precise or exact but is somehow completely different. It’s easy enough for us to write something down and then figure out how to say it out loud, but it rarely happens the opposite: that we say something out loud and then write it down as is.

When things get transcribed that’s when you can see how awkward the major differences are in the way we talk and the way we write things. Because when you transcribe something, you’re like, “Oh, this is really weird; this is going to need to be edited in order for it to make sense because this is not how this idea should look on paper.” But there is something there, there’s something I want to explore that I don’t want to edit out. In fact, I want to take those differences and I want to highlight them. I want to think about them. And it’s the same thing, for me, with handwriting. The way that people write things, the way that people’s hands shake with anger while scribbling something down, or the way they choose to write extremely neatly because it needs to be preserved in a very exacting way. Those things, to me, are, sort of, the body language of writing that I love exploring.

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“Whatever BITCH whatever,” Cindy Baker

Check out her website here: http://www.populust.ca/cinde/wp/

This interview is brought to you by TickTalk at The Works.

Group Art Projects at The Works

Part of completing the Works to Work Internship is completing a series of assignments. One of the most exciting assignments we were given was to create group art projects. My group decided to create a performance piece. In the beginning, all we knew was that we wanted to do something that involved the audience. It needed to feel ritualistic in order to create a sense of community amongst everyone participating. We ended up standing two plinths in the middle of the room beside each other. On top of both plinths sat a clear decorative glass vase. One vase was full of water and the other vase was empty. For the performance we had everyone stand around the plinths in a circle. The performance began when I broke away from the circle to approach the plinths. Slowly, methodically, and with conscious intention, I poured the water from one vase into the other. After returning the now empty vase to its plinth, I walked towards the audience to take the hand of another person and gently direct them towards the vases. I didn’t need to say anything; the audience is always so perceptive. One by one, they would approach the vases and pour water from one vase to another.

Eventually the rhythm of the ritual changed. When it was Stephanie’s turn, she only poured half of the water out of the vase, breaking the infinite cycle of water transfer. This immediately changed the game entirely. From that point on everyone tried to find different ways of expressing the water pour from pouring the water onto the floor to balancing the vases on top of each other. The performance evolved into something we could not have expected. And once the audience felt invested in it, it was completely out of our control. For us, Stephanie was the catalyst to change how the work was perceived. What Steph really did was create a whole new layer to our concept about ritual and community. The performance was no longer ours, but had become everyone’s; another example of how the artist’s intentions for their art work always becomes transformed the moment it is viewed by others.

 

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Interns participate in the interactive water-pouring performance by Vanessa Mastronardi, Betty-Jo McCarville, Sarah Flowers and Alison Prsa.

David Shrigley

Posted by Cara Seccafien, Curatorial Lead Supervisor

In 2010, my older sister introduced me to a webcomic that changed my life. The artist’s name was Lucy Knisley, and she has a degree in fine art from Chicago Art Institute. Her autobiographical comic books are endearing and inspiring and funny; they were so unlike other work I knew of being made by products of academia.

But I don’t really think of Lucy as a leader in the art world; she is an emerging artist. She isn’t very well known. Rather, I acknowledge the way Lucy bridges the gap between art school pretension and really awesome autobiographical socially relevant comic book art. And, likewise, I had a fabulous foundation of love for such things when I stumbled upon David Shrigley’s exhibition Brain Activity when I was travelling in San Francisco last summer.

Since the mid 90s, Shrigley has become internationally known as a leader in an art world that normally rejects comic book aesthetic and humour. He exhibits at world renowned galleries and works commercially at the same time. His drawings, sculpture, and videos, dryly and sarcastically deal with topics of death, religion, and human relationships with each other, animals, and their immediate environment.

His work is hilarious. When I first saw it in San Francisco, the walls of the gallery were papered in drawings, black line on white sketchbook paper. The drawings were crude and child-like and the text to accompany was just the right balance of ironic and real: hilarious in the context of unreal imagery. Following this was a gallery of sculptures and video that, also using text, mirrored the same sense of humour and played deliciously with the expectations of a gallery space.

If you aren’t already obsessed with David Shrigley, you should be.

Works to Work: An Interior Designer's Perspective

Posted by Shelby Nichol

When I was offered the chance to complete my practicum for my interior design diploma at The Works Art and Design Festival I was equal parts excited and nervous. Excitement was easy to feel because working for a festival was sure to be a lot of fun and super unique compared to the practicum the rest of my class would be completing. Nervousness was also an overwhelming feeling because I was scared that I would feel out of place with the other interns that were all going to be artists. I was also scared that everything I would learn would not be directly related or beneficial to my interior design career. I am so glad my nervous feelings were completely abolished when I showed up at The Works office on May 3rd for my first day of work and orientation.

 

When I got the work the first day it was clear that everybody I would be working with was awesome and easy to get along with. My fear that everybody would be a professional artist or fine arts student also disappeared when I found out I was not the only intern who did not come from a BFA background. My attitude changed quickly that day and all my excitement I had before the internship begun completely took over and I was looking forward to an educational summer full of new experiences.

 

I now feel a bit silly to admit that I was nervous that The Works to Works Internship would not be related to my career path because I learned so many great things that I can use in my professional career for the rest of my life. The internship was a great chance to work with a team in a professional atmosphere that was not a group school project. Everything we learned in the class and practical work experience was great. It is never a bad idea for an interior designer to know some extra little tidbits like how to properly hang art or set up temporary walls.