Nature is an Artist was released last week and is available wherever books are sold.
by Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County’s intergovernmental advisor Jennifer Lavallee has published her first children’s picture book.
Vancouver’s Greystone Books released Nature is an Artist, written by Lavallee and illustrated by Argentinian artist Natalia Colombo, on May 17.
The book looks at the various art forms children can find in the natural world surrounding them and follows a group of children exploring nature and discovering an art show in front of them. They are inspired to create works of art, recreating what they have seen in nature.
Although Nature is an Artist is Lavallee’s first published picture book, it is far from her first published work. The author has previously written articles for local newspapers and magazines, including Morinville Online. She has also written for national publications and many of Lavallee’s short stories have appeared in anthologies.
“Those have been more adult-focused stories, Lavallee said of her short story work. “This is my first professional publication in the world of children’s literature,” and that is where I am focusing all my efforts. That’s really where my passion is.”
Lavallee explained that when she was trying to determine the direction of her writing, it dawned on her that children’s writing was a great pairing to where her interests were.
“I’m an adult, but I still read middle-grade books and YA [young adult] and that kind of literature,” she said. “So it just kind of clicked – yeah, I should be focusing my attention here.”
Lavallee recently spent the day at École Morinville Public School reading her new book to students. Children were surprised to learn that an adult enjoyed books written for children.
“I said absolutely I do because I think there is something so very special about pairing really beautiful illustrations [with words],” Lavallee said. “When you look at illustrations in picture books, you can find some really special artwork. Pairing that with beautiful text; it reminds me of magic, kind of, and it’s almost like comfort food.”
Lavallee said she has always been someone who loves fairy tales and someone who loves to watch classic children’s movies over and over again. Films like the adaptation of William Golden’s Princess Bride, Hook and Peter Pan have helped form her current writing path.
“I’ve always just been in that space,” she said of her interests and the types of books she wants to write, paraphrasing author Toni Morrison’s quotation – ‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’
But writing a children’s book is challenging for the mother of three, balancing full-time employment with Sturgeon County, completing graduate school, and taking care of her family.
From the initial idea in the author’s mind, writing the manuscript, then being able to drive to Chapters and take the book off the shelf, was a four-year journey.
“It takes a long time. There are not even 500 words in here,” Lavallee said of the new book, adding that just finalizing the text with the publisher is a lengthy process. “It has to be exactly right, and the thing about this book is it’s a rhyming book. Not only do you have to find the right words, but the right rhyming words to match the story you are trying to tell. It was about a year to finalize the text.”
Working with Buenos Aires-based illustrator Natalia Colombo was also an exciting experience for Lavallee, which also took a year.
“This is her twenty-third book, so that was a neat experience. Most people think I drew the pictures, but I wish I could draw,” Lavallee laughed. “The illustrations are what makes picture books pop, and I’m so pleased with how it came out. It’s very bright and cheerful.”
Great art is significant for Lavallee’s book, which is about the artistic beauty found in nature.
“You can go into nature and see things that are like fine works of art,” Lavallee said. “A sunset is like a beautiful painting, or a rainbow is like stained glass. The point of it is to inspire young readers to see themselves as artists, but in the context of also having respect for nature, and wanting to get out into the environment and the natural world. It’s the pairing of those two.”
Lavallee said Nature is an Artist is perfectly aligned to the existing curriculum, lending itself to simple crafts based on the content of the book.
“Some of those things that you need to learn in the younger years about artistic styles are all interwoven into the story,” Lavallee explained.
The author worked with the publisher to create some free downloadable companion guides to the book for parents and teachers.
Nature is an Artist is available wherever books are sold, including Chapters and Amazon. It retails for $22.95 per copy.
Lavallee has written a sequel to the new book and hopes to see it published in the future. She is also working on a longer chapter book aimed at middle grades.
The author is also doing workshops at the upcoming St. Albert Children’s Festival.
Storage As Art: The Best Pieces For Trying This Stunning Trend – The Zoe Report
Storage products have exploded in the past few years, thanks to major proponents of organization like The Home Edit. At the same time, unique, artistic objects and vessels have become highly sought after in order to create an Instagrammable space. For the longest time, it seemed like you had to choose between the two — you could either create a sterile-but-tidy environment, or you could show off your personality. There was no in between. Fortunately, though, makers have realized that many people desire a balance of the two scenarios, and have turned to creating storage as art that helps keeps things in place while infusing style into the home.
One of the most recent examples of this was the collaboration between jewelry brand Mejuri and Claude Home, a contemporary vintage and furniture design company. Working together, the two recently came up with a buzzy set of trays that both hold accessories and act as objets d’art, effectively solidifying this merging of qualities as one of this year’s trends to know.
But, of course, these aren’t the only brands on board; plenty of other creators have been bringing storage and high design together for a while. And whether you’re looking for small products that will keep desk items in place or entire pieces of furniture made to store your stuff with serious style, they’ve pretty much created it all. Ahead, some of TZR’s favorite examples of the storage-as-art trend.
We at TZR only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Shop The Trend
Africa’s NFT Scene Is Booming – International Attention Could Take it to the Next Level – ARTnews
Last November, Art X Lagos, West Africa’s biggest art fair, partnered with leading NFT platform SuperRare to host Reloading…, one of the first NFT exhibitions for African artists. Featuring artists from Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, Senegal, and elsewhere, the show has been described by those in West Africa’s scene as a major milestone drawing international attention to what African digital artists are doing.
The show “brings so much liberty and independence to the artists, and really just opens up their options,” Tokini Peterside, founder of Art X Lagos, told Reuters at the time.
Meanwhile, in March, the Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos held an introductory digital workshop on NFTs, moderated by Tomiwa Lasebikan, co-founder of Buycoins Africa. A month later, the African Digital Art Network launched the NFT marketplace Nandi to, as co-founder Chinedu Enekwe told Decrypt, “build an ecosystem” that can “help brands and creators to get paid.”
The buzz around Reloading … and these other initiatives is reflective of the fact that cryptocurrencies and digital art already have a major presence in Nigeria and across Africa. And it is only getting bigger.
Between July 2020 and June 2021, Africa saw $105.6 billion in cryptocurrency payments, a roughly 1200 percent increase over the previous year, according to a March report by blockchain data platform Chainalysis. Meanwhile, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa were all ranked in the top ten countries for crypto use.
But despite this seemingly wide crypto adoption, African digital art still has challenges to overcome.
Early last year, the Nigerian government banned banks and financial institutions from using cryptocurrencies, causing many Nigerians to empty their crypto wallets in a wave of panic. While Nigeria announced new rules earlier this month to ease the restrictions, over a dozen African countries still have full bans – including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia.
The bans have handicapped the digital art ecosystems in those countries. While more tech-savvy Nigerians were able to get around the ban, Victor Ekwealor, a Nigerian tech journalist, told me, it prevented most from investing in crypto art in the months after.
“Many African artists market to me directly because there are not enough collectors to buy their art,” Daliso Ngoma, a South African NFT collector and founder of African Technopreneurs, told me.
Similarly, Rodney Asikhia, the owner of Tribes Art Africa, a contemporary art gallery in Lagos, observed,“The rate of patronage of NFTs by African artists is relatively low when compared to the patronage of works by artists from elsewhere.”
This problem arises because most collectors of digital art by African artists are Africans. And Africa simply does not have enough high net-worth investors to collect NFTs at competitive international prices that could sustain the larger ecosystem. More global acceptance and patronage of the works of these artists by international collectors would lead to the greater growth of digital art on the continent.
Another obstacle to the ecosystem is the weak economies of African countries. Minting an NFT could cost anywhere from a few dollars up to several hundred, depending on gas fees – the fluctuating processing fee for crypto transactions – and the platform on which the digital work is minted. However, even just initializing your account will cost approximately $60-70 on most platforms, according to The Verge. In countries such as Nigeria or Kenya, where the minimum wage is approximately $100 – 130 per month, many artists struggle to earn enough to mint their works.
Artists like Osinachi, Young Kev, Kevin Kamau, and others agree that providing artists funds to mint their first NFTs would boost participation in the crypto space. Some artists have even taken it upon themselves to do so on an informal person-to-person basis, playing their part in making this field of blockchain assets expansive and inclusive.
But while artists have provided support to each other, Africa’s NFT sector needs infrastructure comparable to the traditional art world. In that self-sustaining ecosystem, artists make work, gallerists and art dealers market and promote it, and collectors buy it. Meanwhile, art institutions exist to support, develop, and sustain artists as well as facilitate the growth and promotion of art. Introducing this high level of organization and functioning to the digital art space would help onboard more interested people, along with the experienced players, to grow and promote digital art across Africa.
Towards this end, Charles Mbata, a digital art collector and curator, and Chuma Anagbado, an artist and entrepreneur, are bringing together artists, enthusiasts, and cultural figures to build a crypto art community in Nigeria.
One of their initiatives is the Nigeria NFT Community, which organizes programs and fosters collaborations between artists in the space to get recognition by a wider, more global audience. Through a collection like Ape of Lagos, the community aimed to spotlight African artists creating NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. They also organized 3rd Dimension, a virtual reality exhibition for Nigerian digital creators. A similar forthcoming exhibition is Metanoia, which will be held in New York, Nairobi, and Lagos. Other communities like Africa NFT Community, Black NFT Art, and Network of African NFT artists have filled similar roles, helping artists garner more sales, exhibitions and critical engagement. These communities have also facilitated training and information dissemination to artists and other creatives interested in NFTs.
People have often talked about how the NFT craze is driven by money and not the quality of the art. There is some validity to that opinion. It is undeniable that Beeple’s $69.3 million NFT sale at Christie’s and Osinachi’s NFTs achieving prices of $80,000 have created investment interest for collectors and hopes of a goldrush for artists.
But there are African creatives who are interested in doing serious work with NFTs. Nigerian graphic designer Mayowa Alabi, also known as Shutabug, said in an interview earlier this year that he wants his digital art to tell a larger story. Johannesburg-based art director Fahtuwani Mukheli, believes NFTs level the international playing field and give African artists access to audiences they may otherwise not have had access to. In an interview with TRT World, he said that NFTs “make us [African artists] compete completely with everyone at the same time in the world.”
This expanded access and reach have convinced many African artists and art world professionals that it is therefore important to pay attention to the kinds of art they put out in the world – art that seriously engages with African reality and identity.
The digital art ecosystem in Africa can yet experience more growth if more is done to overcome the challenges it currently faces.
While there may not be immediate solutions to difficult home economies or unfavorable crypto laws, we can provide education to expand understanding of the space, develop infrastructure to onboard and diversify collectors, and to provide artists training on how to position their work for the ever-evolving market, while improving their artistic vision.
North Bay news: Gallery in South River features sound art display | CTV News – CTV News Northern Ontario
An art gallery in South River, south of North Bay, is taking a different approach to everyday sounds.
A new display captures sound through interactive sound art.
When you turn the crank on a refurbished circular ball machine, steel balls whiz about and orbit until they fall into the hole where they hit a microphone which activates a sound system.
It’s one of two new pieces at New Adventures in Sound Art, a gallery dedicated to sound and media art.
“We are interested in things that use electronics and interactivity, and also acoustic sounds. About twenty years ago, there were very few opportunities for presenting artwork with sound,” said Darren Copeland of New Adventures in Sound Art
The gallery worked with Ottawa-based artist and composer, Jesse Stewart, and colleague, Matt Edwards, to bring in two new interactive displays called Orbits and Gong Show.
“With sound art, a lot of this work is about challenging the dominance of sight and visual communication,” said sound artist Jesse Stewart.
Gong Show features three gongs hung from the gallery and an iPad in the window.
The gongs play sounds when someone walks in front of the iPad’s motion tracker system, prompting mechanical strikers to strike the gongs.
“These pieces encourage listening, a sense of wonder or discovery, so we don’t just hear with our ears. We also hear with our bodies,” said Stewart
Since 2001, new adventures in sound art began with year-round programming and sound performances in Toronto.
In 2017, it relocated to South River.
“This year, we’re focussing on alternative ways of making music, using your body and moving around, and other projects we have that use the body as a way of listening.”
The two outdoor exhibits will be on display until September 26th…
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