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Dancer Jessica McMann details the experience of practicing performance art in a pandemic – The Peak



McMann represents Indigenous dance in this year’s Re-Centering/Margins showcase. Photo courtesy of Tet M Photography

By: Dev Petrovic, Staff Writer

Spring has sprung and so has the dance festival season, so if you’re hoping to get your arts on, now is the time. Made in BC – Dance on Tour is continuing this year, despite the tour aspect of the showcase being a little different. One upcoming event happening in April, Re-Centering/Margins, will be performed by local BIPOC artists-in-residence — including multi-talented SFU alum, Jessica McMann. The Peak got the chance to speak with McMann about her experience as an artist-in-residence and how this year’s presentation has been produced. 

McMann comes from a Cree background and works as a flute musician, dancer, and choreographer. She completed her MFA in Contemporary Arts at SFU and, pre-pandemic, focused her attention on the dance company Wild Mint Arts, where she is a co-founder and co-director. She started her residency with Made in BC in 2020. The work that will be seen from McMann has been entirely choreographed, performed, and composed by her. 

Margins is a dance residency, but it’s not in residence now because of COVID,” clarified McMann. “Normally we spend 50% of our time in Vancouver and then 50% of our time here, in Calgary.” 

Due to the pandemic, the artists-in-residence have not been able to travel back to BC. McMann explained that this has made the residency more challenging, as she lived in Vancouver when she got accepted with Made in BC but has since moved to Alberta. 

“When the Re-Centering/Margins residency came up, I was really excited because it wasn’t age-driven, which is [sic] really nice. It wasn’t like you have to be 25 or under and as an Indigenous artist, I don’t fall into those young emerging artist categories,” explained McMann. 

Adding to that, McMann said she’s been grateful to have the creative freedom, as well as “the time and space and support to do the work that [she] want[s] to do” instead of being limited to a specific residency theme.

She explained SFU has been giving her support as an alum by providing her with studio spaces in Vancouver. As well, she’s been building her professional connections with SFU and Made in BC. 

After the initial lockdown last year, plans for the artists-in-residence shifted. “So we were going to come [to BC], but then we didn’t, so it’s filmed at [a theatre in Alberta],” McMann said, adding that she wanted to be in BC to film at the SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, but couldn’t due to work obligations in Calgary.  “I’m not really quite sure what the other people are working on because we haven’t had as much time to really connect with each other as we would have been in a more traditional residency,” she expressed. 

[For] myself, as I can only speak for myself, this pandemic has given me an opportunity to actually do land-based work,” said McMann. “So instead of trying to figure out how to bring a land-based thing into the studio, now I have the freedom to actually do land-based stuff and film it and do it where it should be done.” This new artistic space will also allow her to freely film and edit her work as she pleases.

She reminisced about how her work is intended to be done on the land of her ancestors and explained that using online art platforms will make showing her art easier. “I’m circling back to where I first started a dance practice,” she said, “which was not in studios, which was not in theatres because I didn’t have access to those bases. So it was parks outside, art galleries that would let me get those spaces for an hour.”

Yet residency, in its untraditional form, has been difficult. McMann is from the Vancouver area, so not being able to continue her work in BC was disappointing, as well as the disconnect with the residency being all online. “I got so comfortable always being a studio, but my practice is land-based so it’s time to go back,” she said. 

The project honours BIPOC artists and delves in the artistic representations of what these struggles look like. “But there are only three slots available for artists,” reflected McMann. “When you have four supposed categories to fit everybody in, how do you honour those struggles of individual people? So I cannot speak for anybody else but Indigenous people and even then, only myself. Because each Indigenous person’s experience is going to be completely different.”

McMann’s work is supported by Indigenous methodologies and is “created from an Indigenous body with the Indigenous mind.” She explained that her work comes within a base of Indigenous knowledge, “meaning [she] learned to do powwow dancing first before [she learned] how to do and incorporate other dance styles.”

Reflecting on how her style of dance works within and around the margins, McMann described how “looking at that from an Indigenous worldview changes the expectation that [she had] to move in a certain way in front of the camera for it to be dance.

“And [with] Western dance people [ . . . ] it becomes other labels and different types of dancing. Pedestrian movement and terms like that don’t sit the same way in the way that I view how I move and work,” she said.

Re-Centering/Margins will be showcasing their work from April 2–7. The event is free, but donations are suggested. Registration is required through Eventbrite.

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Imaginations, creativity of Mountview students on display at Cariboo Art Beat



Creative, imaginative artwork of students from Mountview Elementary School will be on public display at the gallery of Cariboo Art Beat until April 9.

“The students of Mountview elementary were all invited to participate in an art contest,” Tiffany Jorgensen said, an artist at Cariboo Art Beat.

Each class was separately judged by three professional artists at Cariboo Art Beat, Jorgensen said, based on the students’ creativity, techniques, use of space and originality.

“It was extremely difficult to select pieces from the abundance of beautiful art presented,” she said. “There is so much talent and fantastic imaginations.”

The artist of each selected piece was given formal invitations to their art show to distribute to whomever they choose, and Jorgensen said anyone is free to view the beautiful artwork throughout until April 9.

Honoured at the show were works from local artists Ryker Hagen, Annika Nilsson, Rylie Trampleasure, Angus Shoults, Izabella Telford, Isabella Buchner, Kai Pare and more.

“Come view their wonderful pieces to get a glimpse into the minds of our creative youth,” Jorgensen said.

“It’s been so fun. The kids have come in and seen their work on display with their grandparents, parents, and they’re all so excited.”

Following up on the success of the Mountview art show, Jorgensen said more elementary schools have been invited to participate.

April will feature the works of Nesika and Big Lake, followed by Marie Sharpe and Chilcotin Road next month.

Cariboo Art Beat is located at 19 First Ave., under Caribou Ski Source for Sports’ entrance on Oliver Street.

Rylie Trampleasure, Grade 2, has her work on display at Cariboo Art Beat. (Photo submitted)

Angus Shoults, Grade 4. (Photo submitted)

Angus Shoults, Grade 4. (Photo submitted)

Grade 3 student Izabella Telford. (Photo submitted)

Grade 3 student Izabella Telford. (Photo submitted)

Grade 6 student Kai Pare shows off her artwork. (Photo submitted)

Grade 6 student Kai Pare shows off her artwork. (Photo submitted)

Isabella Buchner

Isabella Buchner

Source:– Williams Lake Tribune – Williams Lake Tribune

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Launching the conversation on Newfoundland and Labrador art history



ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —

“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is a book that has been a long time coming, Mireille Eagan says.

While working at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Prince Edward Island, Eagan curated an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador joining Confederation with Canada.

“As I was researching, I noticed that there was very little that existed in terms of the art history of this province,” she said. “There wasn’t even a Wikipedia article.”

Noticing this large gap, “Future Possible” was a book that needed to exist, she said.

As the 70th anniversary approached in 2019, Eagan, now living in St. John’s and working as curator of contemporary art at The Rooms, envisioned filling that gap.

Over two summers, The Rooms held a two-part exhibition. The first looked at the visual culture and visual narratives before the province joined Confederation and the second focused on 1949 onward, Eagan said.

“At its core, it was asking, what are the stories we tell ourselves as a province? It was looking at iconic artworks, it was looking at texts that have been written about this place, and it put these works in conversation with contemporary artworks,” Eagan said.

In the foreword to the book, chief executive officer of The Rooms Anne Chafe described it as a complement to the exhibition and a project that “does not seek to be the final say. It seeks, instead, to launch the conversation.”

History and identity

One example of that conversation between the past and the present mentioned by Eagan is the work of artist Bushra Junaid, who moved to St. John’s from Montreal as a baby. The daughter of a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, Junaid said her experience growing up in the province in the 1970s, where she always the only Black child in the room, was not like most.

“All of my formative years, my schooling and everything, took place in St. John’s,” she said. “It’s very much shaped my current preoccupation.”

Her interest in history, identity and representation led her to making “Two Pretty Girls…,” which used an archival photograph of Caribbean sugarcane workers from 1903 with text from advertisements for sugar, molasses and rum from archived copies of The Evening Telegram collaged over the women’s clothing.

In her essay “Of Saltfish and Molasses” published in “Future Possible,” she described the work as “(allowing) me to place these women and their labour within the broader historical context of the international trade in commodities that underpinned Caribbean slavery and its afterlife.”

It’s a direct connection between Newfoundland and people in the Caribbean, a historical line not often drawn through the context of the transatlantic slave trade, but one she knows personally through the stories told by her mother, Adassa, about their ancestor, Sisa, who “as a teenager, survived the horrors of the Middle Passage, enduring the voyage from West Africa to Jamaica in the hold of a slave ship (Junaid).”

A book like “Future Possible” allows people to interpret themselves and their past, present and future, Junaid says.

“I appreciate the ways in which they really worked to make it as broad and diverse as possible,” she said. “It’s also striving to tell the Indigenous history of the place, the European settler history … and then also looking for … non-Western backgrounds such as myself. It’s enriching.”

What shapes us

St. John’s writer Lisa Moore contributed an essay called “Five Specimens from Another Time” that weaves together moments from her own life, the province’s history and current realities and the art that has inspired her over the years.

“It’s really interesting to me to see all this work of people that I’ve written about in the past and whose work influenced me, even in my writing of fiction, and then newer artists,” Moore said. “I just think that the book is a total gift.”

With such a rich cultural history ready to be written, she imagines “Future Possible” is just the first of what could be many books about art in the province now that the “ice is cracked.”

“The writers that (Eagan) has chosen to write here are also really exciting critics from all over the province, talking about all kind of different periods in art history,” she said.

As time passes, the meaning of the works in the book becomes richer, she said.

Mary Pratt’s 1974 “Cod Fillets on Tin Foil” and Scott Goudie’s 1991 “Muskrat Falls,” for instance, are two images with seemingly straightforward and simple subject matter. But any viewer looking now, who is aware of the cod moratorium and the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam, would find it difficult to see and interpret these images outside of those contexts.

“Artists, writers, filmmakers … they’re keen observers of culture and the moment that we live in,” Moore said. “They present things that are intangible like the feeling of a moment, or the culmination of social, political and esthetic powers that come together at a given time and shape us.”

“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is available online and in stores.

Andrew Waterman reports on East Coast culture.
[email protected]
Twitter: @andrewlwaterman



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Parrott Art Gallery goes virtual to help flatten the curve – The Kingston Whig-Standard



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Feeling stir crazy because of COVID and the latest lock-down? Take a virtual trip to Morocco!

On Wednesday, April 14 at 2:30 p.m., the Parrott Gallery will host Lola Reid Allin’s Armchair Traveler online presentation: “Morocco: Sea, Sand and Summit”. Allin is an accomplished photographer, pilot, writer and speaker. Travel with her through the land of dramatic contrast and hidden jewels, busy markets and medieval cities, and enjoy some virtual sun.

For more information and to register for this free online event, please visit The Armchair Traveller Morocco photography exhibit is also available to view through the Parrott Gallery website until mid-May.

Even though our gallery is currently closed to the public, our exhibitions are all available to view online. Sam Sakr’s show “The Housing Project” is certain to bring a smile to your face. His collection of mixed media artwork will take you to a playful land of fantastical creatures that inhabit imaginary, stylized cityscapes. If your spirit needs uplifting, you need to see to see this show. I hope that everyone will be able to view Sakr’s work both online and then in our gallery after the lock-down ends in May. Without a doubt, it will be worth the wait to see it again in-person when we re-open.

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Another exhibition that you can currently visit on the Parrott Gallery website is the group show “Spring Sentiments: a Reflection of Art in Isolation”. This was a collaborative effort by the 39 artists who submitted their work, our staff who put the show together in the gallery and online, and our guest curator Jessica Turner. We are thrilled that Jessica was able to transcribe her experience with this show into a final paper for her Curatorial Studies BFA degree at OCADU.

The fact that we have had to close our doors just as this show was opening is a sad reflection of the theme as the audience must now reflect on this artwork at home, in isolation. The up-side to viewing this exhibition online is that one can read the artist statements that accompany the work and get a more in depth view of the artists’ perspectives. We encourage viewers to support our artists by sending in their comments and to vote for their favourites in the show by following the appropriate link on the webpage.

When you can’t come in to our building, the Parrott Gallery will bring the artwork to you. And then when the sun and flowers come out in May, and when it is safe to return to our gallery on the third floor of the Belleville Public Library, we hope to see you all again.

For questions about our online talk, our shows, or to purchase any of the artwork please call us at 613-968-6731 x 2040 or email us at

Wendy Rayson-Kerr is the Acting Curator at the John M. Parrott Art Gallery.

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