HALIFAX, N.S. —
While venues were closed due to COVID-19, many creative artists used the tools available to them to stay connected to their audiences.
Musicians shared their gifts with the world via live online concerts, comedians did standup from their living rooms and backyards and filmmakers posted shorts about their experiences on YouTube.
But for talented artisans who sculpt three-dimensional objects that have to be seen in the real world to truly be truly enjoyed and experienced, being creative during quarantine meant there would be a bit of hang time before they could display their work.
Now that doors are reopening and exhibits are reappearing, Halifax co-operative gallery Art 1274 Hollis asked its members to contribute self-portraits that reflect their experiences over the past four months. With 23 local artists and artisans working in everything from paint and pottery to folk art and hooked rugs, the co-op’s The Isolation Project — Self-Reflection contains a multitude of interpretations and each has a unique personal touch.
‘It’s all about the giggle’
Ceramics artist Naomi Walsh calls her baked and glazed clay still life Got a Job Needs Doing, which reflects her position as the co-op’s gallery manager — “I’m the one who buys the toilet paper and the hand sanitizer” — and her love of home renovation and gardening.
The piece is a collection of ceramic versions of items like a can of paint with brushes, a cordless drill and a pair of garden shears, that shows her skill as well as her sense of humour.
“I don’t do people, never mind myself,” laughs Walsh over creating a self-portrait with household objects.
“I love doing miniatures of real things. I’ve done harbours and fishing boats, using hairnets for scallop nets, and I just love that kind of stuff. So I had a lot of fun with this project, it made me giggle, and it’s all about the giggle.”
In a normal year Art 1274 Hollis would be having monthly openings starting on April 1 with featured artists and a party for anybody and everybody who wants to drop by and see new works and have a snack or two.
With Wednesday’s opening of The Isolation Project, the gallery near Hollis and Morris streets is currently open noon to 4 p.m. daily, with up to four viewers allowed in at any time and the wearing of masks and use of hand sanitizer strongly encouraged.
“We were closed for so long, and one of our members had the wonderful idea of reintroducing ourselves to a) the general public and b) our loyal followers by doing self-portraits,” says Walsh.
“Well, that’s all well and good if you paint, but there’s a lot of us who made 3D things, there are jewelry makers, there’s Al (Hattie) with his metalwork, there are potters … but then I realized, it doesn’t have to actually look like me, does it?
“So I put a spin on it by making it something that represents how I think of myself and how I identify myself. So a lot of us ran with that idea.”
Self portrait in spoons
Al Hattie’s version of himself shows a miniature version of the metalworking artisan at his workbench creating something new out of dining utensils, and the artist himself is represented by a few spoons with forks for hands, wrapped in cloth.
“I made a replica of my welder, and the little gas tank is a CO2 cartridge from my old BB gun, and the gauge is actually a meat thermometer,” says Hattie. “All my art is made from found or recycled objects, metal mostly now.”
He jokes that he started making art from found objects when his wife asked him to clean out the garage one day, and he’s been combing through thrift stores and antique shops for materials ever since.
He started selling items at local markets, and eventually graduated from making items out of old tires and lawn art out of large pieces of disused metal into assembling more detailed pieces with utensils and smaller ingredients. It was these items which caught Walsh’s eye, and led her to extend an invitation to Hattie to join Art 1274 Hollis.
“I feel pretty privileged to be part of it, because the talent that’s in there is amazing. Some of them have been doing it longer than I’ve been alive, they’re very experienced and quite well-known,” says Hattie, who hopes coming out of COVID-19 hibernation will inspire more people to visit local independent galleries, either to buy or just to browse.
“Art galleries like ours are free to visit, people keep forgetting that. You can go and view talent, and everybody’s welcome.”
The Agnes Etherington Art Centre reopens to the public – Queen's Journal
After Kingston moved back to the green zone, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre reopened to the public on Feb. 20with a maximum capacity of 41.
In an interview with The Journal, Kate Ducharme, visitor services assistant, described the process of reopening with social distancing protocols.
“We’re a very safe space, and visitors really adhere to our guidelines and I think they’re just excited to be able to come and experience art again,” she said.
According to Ducharme, the reduced capacity in the art centre allows for a more intimate viewing experience.
“It’s a huge change, and you do feel that change when you’re in the galleries. Most times you’re in the galleries with just yourself or with the household that you’re with, which also allows for a real personal experience with the exhibitions.”
Ducharme is excited about the reopening and looks forward to seeing people enjoy the experience of viewing art in-person again.
“It’s wonderful to be able to share those experiences with people,” Ducharme said. “We have a collection of 17,000 pieces, so there’s lots to share. There are new exhibitions from visiting artists as well, so it’s a great opportunity to come in and check it out.”
Agnes staff members faced a challenge last spring when COVID-19 forced them to move online, but Ducharme said she’s proud of the work the team has accomplished.
“Virtual exhibitions and public programing all went online, so that was a huge shift for our staff. And a lot of that work is still going on, trying to make those exhibitions available because not everyone has the option to come in person,” she said.
For those unable to visit in person, Ducharme recommended taking advantage of the Agnes’ online resources, which include workshops, lectures, and tours.
Open Your Art launches Take-Out Art Kits – Brunswickan
Amidst lockdowns and lowering temperatures, it is gratifying to learn that quality recreation is still available and affordable in Fredericton. Open Your Art Fredericton has just launched a product that facilitates access to art materials, even for the greenest of novices. Handcrafted in-studio by talented ceramic instructors, Open Your Art promises you won’t be bored anymore in quarantine.
Take-out art kits have been around for a while, but now they are being produced and marketed for and by locals. Angela Black, Arts Educator and owner of Open Your Art, explains that the product is facilitating access to art expression for, “folks unable to come out to a studio for whatever reason.” She adds that the barriers imposed by Coronavirus protocols are easily overcome by creating the art takeout kits.
“We have learnt, working with many ‘vulnerable’ sectors, that attendance and access to transportation for example can be a real barrier to taking part in extracurricular activities,” said Black.
The kits come in various sizes and options for individuals, families, and teams. Open Your Art accords special privileges for “team” and “family” kits by providing live tutorials over Zoom with an instructor who will guide and inspire your first steps.
“The kit itself is a reusable container that gets returned to the studio once your piece is finished. Everything is washed and reused as much as possible. The kit contains a range of underglazes for decorating your tumblers in line with individual or group taste as well as brushes and a manual,” Black explained.
“This product is literally flying off the shelves,” Angela Black said. “People are buying them five at a time sometimes. We have started selling them for birthday parties as well. The kits are very popular at $25 (plus tax), so we have decided that our next few options will be a bowl, wine cup, and wait for it – dog bowls.”
If you’re wondering what to do to liven things up at your next family get together, (virtual) office retreat, or even just one random Sunday afternoon, Open your Art kits may be a good option. The instructors have become quite proficient at hosting team building events. The prospect of teaching work enhancement skills in a positive, low-key environment sounds decidedly tempting.
Black expects the art kits to become even more popular as new options are constantly being developed to accommodate everyone. According to her, the company is all for inclusion.
The Art of Clanny Mugabe | The Journal – Queen's Journal
Clanny Mugabe is a second-year student in the faculty of Arts and Sciences. She’s currently majoring in English and would describe herself as heavily inspired by world mythology, speculative fiction, and character design. She primarily draws digitally, and each digital painting often has a spiritual/mythological element to it.
“This is a digital painting with the simple goal of portraying an ambiguous black person with a regal air, to contradict the normative stereotypes of black people that portray them in a less than dignified light. The gold is used because its associated with riches and royalty. The word Ulysses is the latinized form of the name Odysseus, who is a figure of Greek/roman mythology that was known for his nobility and intelligence.”
Celebrities as Greek Gods
“Greek mythology is something that has inspired me a lot throughout my life, and the legacy of Greek/Roman mythology and ancient Greek/Roman civilization is still celebrated today. So, I felt like inserting black people into that mythology because history is very whitewashed; we are not educated on non-European civilizations often, and ancient Greece and Rome is very whitewashed in the public consciousness even though they were diverse empires whose art history and mythology have roots in the Middle East and Africa.”
“I had always imagined what the world would look like if European colonization never happened, and I specifically wondered about what aspect of culture would be changed, specifically culture we take for granted, like fashion. This line of speculation was encouraged by Black Panther, and the costume design of the movie inspired this series and was referenced. So last year I designed several pieces of fashion mostly inspired by African fabrics, African fashion, futuristic aesthetics and film costume design.”
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