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'It's not niche anymore:' Climate change themes everywhere in Canadian art – CBC.ca

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Brett Story made a film about climate change that doesn’t once use the phrase.

Instead, The Hottest August walks a camera down everyday streets and asks people: “How do you feel about the future?”

“I was reflecting on my own disinterest in watching climate change films, despite a very profound investment and sense of the stakes,” said the Toronto-based filmmaker, whose work has won awards around the world.

“One of my own frustrations with a lot of climate change films is that they assume the problem is that we don’t have information. For me, there’s a different set of questions I wanted to ask.”

Canadian artists from singers to sculptors are doing the same. From writer Margaret Atwood’s climate fiction, or cli-fi, “MaddAddam” trilogy to an upcoming album from singer/songwriter Grimes, climate change permeates Canadian art.

“Climate is a hugely prominent topic and has been for a little while,” said Julian Carrington, programmer for Toronto’s Hot Docs and Planet In Focus documentary festivals. “It’s not niche anymore.”

Rink and An Unkindness, an installation by artist Mia Feuer, is seen in Calgary in a 2015 handout photo. (Handout/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“Absolutely,” said Mia Feuer, a Winnipeg-born sculptor teaching at the California College of the Arts. “As a grad student, I don’t remember climate issues being addressed in people’s work. I would say now, it’s absolutely everywhere.”

The challenge is to make work that addresses an inescapable fact of modern life without churning out agitprop.

“We’re not just getting together and making signs to take to the protest,” Feuer said.

For some, climate change is a new lens through which to look at some old themes.

“Where do we as individuals fit with society? Where does society fit with nature?” asks Edmonton poet Alice Major, whose most recent collection is titled “Welcome to the Anthropocene.”

“That just kind of grew constantly in me and that’s what the title poem is about — where do we belong?”

For others, the work itself raises the issue.

Feuer often uses petroleum-based materials such as Styrofoam. One afternoon, she was sitting on the banks of the Suez Canal watching tankers glide by.

“It was almost like a light bulb fired off in my mind. I needed to understand where these materials come from.”

Eventually, that led to work such as “An Unkindness,” an assemblage of what looks like oil-soaked industrial detritus that has shown in Washington’s prestigious Corcoran Gallery.

Whatever the inspiration, art isn’t a lecture, said Marcus Youssef, a Vancouver playwright whose one-hander “Dust” has been performed across North America.

“We as humans have a natural resistance to being hectored,” he said.

“(Art) is a perspective that isn’t didactic. It reflects some sort of human response to the question that has the potential to affect people more deeply or in a surprising way.”

Not that artists are averse to changing people’s behaviour. They just think there’s a better way than haranguing them.

“I like to make films that respect audiences and give people space to do thinking and feeling on their own terms,” Story said.

“That’s what art can do — make us both feel alive and also able to see things differently. I think that’s a precondition to being political actors in the world.”

“There’s a potential through the arts to connect in an emotional way, in a spiritual way,” said Feuer. “That might be how people might be moved to seek out change, to ask bigger questions.”

Major agrees.

“Poetry is not a screwdriver. It’s not something you have clearly defined results from.

“Poetry comes out of something happening in our hearts and good poetry does connect. That connection — you have no idea what comes out of that, but it could be a small motivation to pay attention.”

Audiences are receptive. Major said “Welcome to Anthropocene” drew reviews and attention as far afield as Los Angeles.

When Feuer showed her work in Calgary, “it was very positive.”

“I was hesitant to show it, (but) it had a great reception.”

Good art, including art about climate change, brings people together, said Youssef.

“One of the places where political art can fall is that it makes it easy to go, ‘Oh, that’s the bad guy.’ I actually don’t believe there is a bad guy.

“It’s trying to find the humour and humanity in everybody, the recognition of the degree in which we are all complicit.”

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New Downtown Public Art to Support #MississaugaMade – City of Mississauga – City of Mississauga

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Those travelling through Mississauga will notice new public art in the form of light pole banners stretched throughout the City’s downtown core.  This temporary installation by Mississauga-born artist and illustrator, Pranavi Suthagar, celebrates Mississauga’s diversity and cultural identity.

Much of 2020 has been spent reacting and adapting to a new reality brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new street banner public art also helps to promote local businesses, products, artists and activities through the City of Mississauga’s #MississaugaMade online initiative developed by Tourism Mississauga.

“Being born and raised in Mississauga, I am grateful to be a part of this campaign,” said artist Pranavi Suthagar, who was commissioned by the City’s Public Art Program to create new artwork for the Mississauga Made campaign. “I remember seeing all colourful banners decorating the city growing up and I always wondered who created them. To be selected for this campaign, and given the opportunity to share my perspective on how I view the city is a full circle experience.”

“Tourism Mississauga is very proud to be a part of this year’s street banner campaign, in collaboration with the City’s Public Art Program. Not only are the banners a great way to show our support within the community, but they also offer us an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the work of a local artist”, said Tej Kainth, Manager of Tourism Mississauga. “Mississauga Made is a campaign that supports all our local businesses and the arts, and we encourage residents and visitors alike to join the movement and support our local talents, and all Mississauga has to offer.”

The street art was installed on Friday, Oct. 16 and will remain on the following streets until mid-January 2021:

  • Living Arts Drive
  • Duke of York Boulevard
  • Prince of Wales Drive
  • Princess Royal Drive

“Mississauga Made is a great local initiative that supports our small business community. During these difficult times, more than ever, we need to stand together and support our entrepreneurs and our local businesses”, said Bonnie Brown, Director of Economic Development Office.  “During the month of October, the City has been celebrating Small Business Month, and the Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre continues to offer free webinars and events to celebrate entrepreneurship and help people start and grow their business.”

The next time you visit Mississauga’s downtown, take a closer look at this important artwork and reflect on your own connection to Mississauga.

Media Contact:

Bryan Sparks
Advisor, Communications
T 905-615-3200 ext.3253
bryan.sparks@mississauga.ca

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How travel restrictions are impacting art – The Globe and Mail

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Art galleries on the brink as pandemic lays waste to plans – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Barbara Lewis and Will Russell

MUDDLES GREEN, England (Reuters) – This was to have been the year that an art gallery deep in the southern English countryside took the United States by storm with exhibitions of the extraordinary Lee Miller, a 1920s fashion model, surrealist and World War Two photographer.

Filming for a biopic starring Kate Winslet was also meant to have begun at Farleys House in Muddles Green, where the American-born Miller recovered from documenting the horrors of war and entertained guests including Pablo Picasso and fellow surrealist photographer and her former lover Man Ray.

Instead, the pandemic has put almost every plan on hold.

“It’s like a wasteland of tumbleweed,” said Ami Bouhassane, Miller’s granddaughter.

She curates the Miller archive with her father, Antony Penrose, Miller’s son with the surrealist artist Roland Penrose.

COVID-19 has compounded the uncertainty created by Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU), with a transition period ending on Dec. 31. That has left galleries anxious about how complicated it might become to stage shows and transport artworks abroad.

For more than a decade, Farleys House and Gallery has averaged four international exhibitions a year, loaned mostly around Europe, accounting for roughly a third of its revenue. Other income comes from rights relating to the 60,000 negatives in the Miller archive and from visitors to Muddles Green.

This year, it was planning on seven and to expand into the United States as part of a strategy to cope with Brexit. Two have gone ahead – one in Germany, traditionally one of its most important markets, and another in non-EU Switzerland.

A third show, intended for Europe, is being shown instead to Farleys’ trickle of socially-distanced visitors, while the other exhibitions are in storage.

Such problems are shared to varying degrees by art institutions great and small as visitor numbers no longer justify large-scale exhibitions and planning is fraught.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entirety of the arts and culture sector,” said Arts Council England in an email. The body is helping to administer a government 1.57 billion pound ($2.04 billion) Culture Recovery Fund.

London’s Wallace Collection, which includes works by Rubens, Van Dyck and Titian, has also seen a 90% fall in visitors and has deferred exhibitions to next year.

“Financially it doesn’t make sense to do blockbuster shows at the moment,” Xavier Bray, director of the museum, told Reuters.

Commercial revenue from events, a shop and restaurant has dropped by 1.5 million pounds and the museum faces “a massive deficit” this year, Bray said. “Any help is going to be crucial to the survival of institutions like the Wallace Collection.”

($1 = 0.7717 pounds)

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis in Muddles Green and Will Russell in London; additional reporting by Gerhard Mey and Carolyn Cohn,; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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