FROM THE COMMUNITY
Arts Exchange @ IMPACT 21
Over the summer, IBPOC artists from Waterloo Region collaborated together in our second Arts Exchange cohort. Through the help of the OAC and KWCF Spinnaker Fund, 36 artists were able to foster new connections and relationships, and exchange ideas for projects, creative play and experimentation with no pressure to create a final product.
On Monday, October 4th, some of these pairings will gather online to share some of their work they created together, their experiences in the program and celebrate another incredible cohort. Join us at 2:00pm EST to celebrate with us!
PROJECT: Vision Beyond Seeing
COLLABORATION: Lupita Guerrero, Ahmad Meree, Suhaila Baheyeldin
The installation Vision Beyond Seeing is based on a narrative of self-reflection, political injustice, and a newfound appreciation for freedom. Through the lens a fictional character who has just been released from prison, a man begins to find the beauty in natural elements that were once taken from him—animals, colours, and words have meaning once again. Time plays an important role in his journey, as he reminisces on times that have passed and times to come, while also reflecting on his new identity, physically and mentally, following incarceration. This story encourages the audience to both question and appreciate their surroundings, as well as put their own experiences into perspective. It is also an introspective journey of one’s lineage and the significance of occupying a place in in-between spaces, such as planes, buses, or cars. We aimed to maintain the storyline as ambiguous as possible so that viewers are able to interchange information that will relate to their own encounters on their path towards personal growth.
Examples of what was produced
Text Excerpt (Vision Beyond Seeing)
I see, now I see. But what do I see? I’m not sure there are enough words in the language to describe what I see. Or maybe my language has been limited. There, in that dark room you don’t need to know a lot of words. Three or four words will be enough to survive for a time. Enough to keep you alive, to let you die slowly. I’ve forgotten the words, most of them. Even when I recall the words, I forget the meaning. I’ve forgotten the meaning, the meaning of everything. But now, I see, for the first time in a very long time. I’ve forgotten how to count. I’ve lost the ability to count a very long time ago. I want for this thing that I’m in right now that’s going so fast to slow down so I can see more. Fast, speed, quick, I didn’t forget these words. There, they’ll use them a lot. When they get us food, they say, “be quick.” When they take us to the washroom–once a year maybe? They say “faster.”
I want everything to slow down. I want everything to be very slow. What I’m seeing is a lot. Space … and two colors, I forgot what they’re called. Although looking at them hurts, I’ll never close my eyes. I don’t even want to blink. I don’t want to miss a single moment. These two colors are bright and pretty. The first one is pure, clean, clear, inciting me to touch it. The other one is strong, bold and fresh. It’s provoking me to eat it …. Slowly.
I want to have a conversation with that beautiful creature who’s circling around the fresh without touching it …. How is she feeling? Was she born when I was away? …. Butterfly, that’s what she’s called. Now I remember. But I still can’t remember the names of the colours. But I’ve never forgotten the sun. I’ve always longed for it. It’s so warm. The warmest I’ve ever felt.
That thing that I’m in. It’s moving faster and faster. The sun reflects on the square and I see a man, A scary looking man. I see a beard. It’s the longest beard I’ve ever seen. He’s very thin and has lost a lot of teeth. I get closer, to look more carefully. He moves at the same time as me. I don’t know this man. I don’t want to know him. I look away, but when I look back, he’s still looking at me. When I look at him more closely, I find he looks a lot like my father. Or maybe my grandfather. Or maybe my great grandfather.
Everything stops. I look out from that square and see a sign. It says: “bus station”.
PROJECT: Artworks – Mixed Media Art with Natural Elements
COLLABORATION: Salomé Pérez & Shantell Powell
Excerpt from Shantell Powell’s Blog:
“In July, MT Space paired me up with multidisciplinary artist Salomé Perez. Together, we collaborated and exchanged skills/knowledge. Both of us are eclectic artists with a keen interest in the natural world, so it was a perfect match.
Over the summer, we met several times in person, in our respective gardens, and also walked through the Laurel Creek Conservation Area. I shared my herbalism knowledge as we walked, and we discussed different uses for various plants. We collected grasses, flowers, and pollen for pigmentation and cordage. Salomé is an accomplished crochet artist and embroiderer, and she crocheted and embroidered with natural fibres.
She showed me how to crochet, and I showed her how to do relief printing. Although I didn’t end up using crochet in any of my work (so far), Salome used some birch bark for relief printing… Salome did many sketches of the plants we saw on our walks. I went on a camping trip to Algonquin Park and did some drawing from life.
In August, I was in preparation for the Indigenous Art Market Kitchener, and I continued to incorporate natural elements for that. I designed a line of earrings made from leather, sealskin, and birch bark. I also embroidered some miniature pendants… I have enjoyed working with Salomé, and I anticipate we will continue our collaboration. I have very much enjoyed learning and creating with her, and want to thank both her and the fine folks at MT Space for putting this all together.”
See more examples of artwork being explored here.
Examples of artwork and exploration by Salomé Pérez:
‘Encounter’ – Monoprint (ink) with birch paper on watercolour paper. Dried grass, and embroidery with thread.
‘Every child deserves a swing’ – Embroidery on cotton mosaics.
‘Mourning Glory’ – Collage: red cabbage water, watercolour, leaf prints, grasshopper, and sun (crochet needle work attached by hand sewing), and mushroom skin.
Examples of artwork and exploration by Shantell Powell:
PROJECT: The Children Have Dreams
by Night Himmel
The Children Have Dreams by Night Himmel is a twelve-piece series done over a span of three months. It describes his own emotional journey of grief, loss, anger, and painful meditation at the news of the uncovered children’s bodies found within many residential schools. It portrays the sense of disconnection and dissociation that he experiences while processing these devastating losses. The artworks serve as a way to work through the emotions, but also as a reminder to cherish the children and that they have had, and always will have, dreams of their own.
Artworks that each correspond to 12 poems created by the artist:
I gaze wide
Upon the fields of red, and the souls of the
Little ones big-white-forgettings
(Cold snakes’ poison leaks into the minds
To forget their own pain) who twinkle
Between the blades;
Their buried bodies marked
By the crosses of
The ones who killed them. (And name them the mortal coil they so dismember).
The children (call them Remembered, now) have wishes too.
Dream of something
Can you see them climbing to her?
She stands there, the tree to the
gateway of death, and she
is waiting, Collecting,
as the dreams come up
her trunk and give her strength
To ward away the white snakes. (Poison leaks.)
You cannot see her
now, but she is calm.
She watches with a held breath at the turnings of the world.
Her hair is a bed,
She looks toward you,
Her skin is the sunset,
Can you feel her thoughts?
She is looking towards you.
Her hair is uncut,
She looks towards you,
Her skin was washed with rain,
Can you feel her words?
She is looking towards you.
Her hair is healthy,
She looks towards you,
Her skin is colder than you remember,
Can you hear her?
She is looking towards you.
Did you wait for the burning purple weeds
To breathe in the sulphur air
Before you decided to
Maybe one day, far beyond your time,
The children would have to eat off
Your grimy plates,
Take shelter under your rotting walls.
You do not care for suffering.
The ones who are reading this, cared so much.
I am talking to you, the eyes who never look,
The soul that never sees.
There was no Justice, for She was blinded a long time ago,
She did not see what was to come
From the actions that took place here.
The world turns even when burning.
I hope one day we can live without you.
I hope one day we can live without you.
And what balance could be made
With two objects of infinite value?
What decision, then?
Cold remembrance is left
For those who were not taught to swim
In such a empty, suffocating sea
As this. It is not the tears
That catch the words in our throats
But the grief.
And we are not strong, here,
We are not speculating, here,
We are not confused, here,
We are not broken, here,
Weakness is a ribbon, threaded with needs
That were not met.
It’s okay to commit sorrow onto your heart.
It’s okay to cry.
Haze and disconnect,
To flourish in such a storm,
Strong roots, proud eyes,
But lost were the rhizome layers,
And so the harsh erosion carried our bodies
Beyond the tracks, to Them.
Their bullets, Their ropes, Their shackles,
Their festered eyes.
Do not cut into Us like this,
Like some scared animal that is innocent.
This anger is not mine, but theirs:
The ones who are left without respect
By you and The Rest.
Do not apologize to me.
Sorry won’t bring it back.
The call of the evening, as sunset waves goodbye along the land,
Once a long time ago, the horizon sung of the joys we knew,
And the birds knew the names of our families.
Perhaps you, too, knew them, before you were born.
Perhaps they were also your family.
But of course they were.
But of course we are.
The barriers between life and not life remained thin
When I listened to the news. My thoughts cut off like
Rain in the summer: a hot, stinking thing lay under my porch.
I’m not without blame, I said. And I gaze off into the static.
Something like that for us.
Will modern life ever give the taste
To these dying eyes?
An eye over the sea
To watch, to guide, to love,
I wondered with my heart
Where it was looking, seeking.
There’s wounds within the water,
That harsh, like winter storms, pierce.
My love, remember:
We are not forgotten in Her gaze.
The horizon was always daunting,
Like a question you could never fathom.
I told this to the trees, of a forest far inland,
Who laughed and said:
“The earth is as deep as our songs,
The roots do not quake at the depth.
We only hang on; the void is not a guessing game.”
Bright lilies that live inside my mind
Bloom with the rise of a curious dawn.
I walk in circles, searching, searching.
I am not myself: some stranger in a form of clay.
I look beyond, to the beckoning sway of the trees.
Don’t come for me, I am finding my way back.
Sometimes grief takes the path ahead away from you,
Sometimes you forget where you’ve already been.
And sometimes the best self-reflection you can do is:
Let it breathe,
And let it sleep,
And it will be,
And it will be.
PROJECT: Mothers in a Pandemic
This is a cinepoem written, acted and filmed by two artists: Janice Jo Lee and Seemab Zahra. This cinepoem elaborates the role of mothers in the pandemic, how they are taking care of their families and how they try to survive.
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