ALBERTA COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN FACULTY ASSOCIATION
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EXECUTIVE BOARD 2015–2016
AC AD FA OFFICE 547
president Alex Link vice president/treasurer Mitch Kern
OFFICE HOURS TUES/WEDS 10AM–5 PM THURSDAY 10AM–2PM
secretary Heather Huston
Office Manager Patti Dawkins
professional affairs rep Tyler Rock
nac chair Chris Frey
g rievanc e advisor Jeff Lennard
Communications Offic er Laurel Johannesson ac ademic council rep Mark Clintberg
The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Alberta College of Art & Design Faculty Association.
sessional representative Diana Sherlock
©Alberta College of Art + Design Faculty Association and contributors 2015
board of g overnors rep Ian Fitzgerald
Cover Photo by Rita McKeough Fish House Rauschenberg Residency Captiva Island, Florida
Before / After the [cCrw]tastrophe
Discovered and arranged by dr.chriSTopher.frey x XXII (The Red Wheelbarrow) William Carlos Williams 1883-1963
x ZZ (The Tender Touch) tofFre o.Shay 1965 - ?
so much depends upon
bad ass lawn care
a red wheel barrow
a tender touch
glazed with rain water
for knot two much
beside the white chickens
worth a second look
- Spring and All 1923 â€œTrust Your Committeesâ€?
- ACAD October 6, Z015
Me s s a ge f ro m t h e P resid ent Alex Link
Back in September, ACIFA (the Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association) asked for input from all the Association presidents. It was meeting with the Minister for Advanced Education, Lori Sigurdson, and wanted some input on what to discuss, particularly with regard to:
A. The composition of Boards of Governors. The provincial government is concerned that current Boards might evidence too narrow a skill set, focused upon corporate operations at the possible expense of other stakeholder groups or areas of value in post-secondary institutions.
B. Any examples of administrative densification or controversial bonuses paid to senior administrators. As you are likely aware, administrative structures at schools across North American have grown dramatically, eating into post-secondary resources. Furthermore, in Canada, some schools have had experience with administrators receiving significant bonuses, sometimes for withholding funds from their academic areas. My response to ACIFA indicated a generally positive relationship with the Board—certainly compared to previous years— while welcoming any initiatives to bring Board composition into greater harmony with the culture and mandate of public postsecondary education in Alberta. I also added the following. “We have had an administrative densification. However, much of it is a direct consequence of underfunding in that, as we have been starved of resources, we’ve been forced to divert a significant proportion of what we do have away from the core business of teaching and learning toward fundraising. Furthermore, given that Presidents are now in a position in which their job performance is measured primarily by their ability to raise funds, underfunding necessarily puts them in direct competition with the core business of teaching and learning. Simply stated: underfunding puts Presidents and administrations in a conflict of interest in which they *compete* for funds and personnel with what they’re supposed to *manage.* “We have no evidence of scandalous bonuses because, simply, we receive less than half the base operating funds of even the province’s smallest institution. “This underfunding snowballs of course, not only with regard to having to spend more to fundraise, but to spend more
on hiring because we have difficulty attracting and retaining talent throughout the college (not just faculty), which in turn creates internal instability, which in turn costs us even more, all at students’ expense. I can honestly say that much of the college, these days, is run on good will, and the fact that our body of just over 1000 students continues to win national and international awards (including, this year, a recent graduate’s governor general’s award) is nothing short of a miracle. “Needless to say we eagerly look forward to the province’s re-examination of the base funding model, as it’s difficult to imagine how our situation could be made worse by it. As I see it, a fair and consistent province-wide funding model would see our funding increase by 50%. To put it another way, proportionally, we operate with 2/3 the budget of any other institution in the province. Less, actually, but I don’t want to strain credulity. “A corrected, fair base funding model would utterly transform ACAD, while the total dollar amount that would entail is the equivalent of a simple rounding error at a larger institution such as U of C. “I could go on… “I’m sorry this was so specific to my institution, but the funding disparity puts us in something of a unique position. “Let me just add that one thing I would like to see discussed is a less narrow-minded understanding of post-secondary beyond job skills training purely for the energy sector. Given that ACAD generates significant economic return on investment in the economy by producing employers and entrepreneurs and people with transferrable skills, among other things, and given that we believe public post-secondary has a social mission beyond being an outsourced corporate training facility at public expense, we would like to see greater support for postsecondary beyond the applied sciences, across the board; that’s where innovation (and public and community health and engagement) comes from. Even Einstein knew that, and said so.” I sent a follow-up message to ACIFA indicating that I understand they cannot advocate for a specific institution, as a provincial organization. However, should they ever be asked to provide an example of why base operating funding ought to be revised, and soon, I invite them to use the fact that that for every dollar every student in Alberta gets, ACAD’s get 67 cents. The message got through loud and clear to ACIFA, and they have indicated that they will mention our case as opportunities arise. Fingers crossed.
V i s i t i ng Art i st School of Craf t + E me rgin g Me d i a , C e ra m i c s anne drew potter
Ou t s i de r?
Notes on my first two months in Canada
On August 15 I was curled in the covers of a strange bed at an old friend’s apartment in Vancouver. I was watching the Canadian flag wave over a financial building across the street and wondering if this would become an epic moment in my life story…..or not. Would this moment build a memory or become just another passing experience, dissolving into the oblivion that characterizes the vast majority of life. Of course I wanted it to be – meaningful – the start of a new chapter. Strange to ponder that flag waving. It gave me a feeling of comfort and excitement. This is not a feeling I generally associate with waving national flags. As a (liberal?) American, I associate waving flags with bigotry, oppression, violence. They are a tool that manipulates the heroic impulse toward evil. I have learned to hate my flag – it represents all the aspects of my country that scare and shame me. Does a liberal Canadian feel this way looking at their flag waving? Can it possibly be a simple parallel? I think of the illusion I have when communicating in a foreign language – as though it were simply a screen or a veil, and on the other side it is no different from my own language. This is a delusion of course. A quick run through google-translate makes it imminently clear why we need human translators. The other side of that veil is a completely different culture. What does the Canadian flag mean for my counterpart in Canada? A month later I joked with my climbing comrades as we practiced the local preferred method of crevasse rescue (a skill I have learned in the U.S. and Germany as well, each time with variations). They teased me that Donald Trump was going to be our next president, I teased back that I wasn’t worried, I would just move to Canada, “I hear they have healthcare there.” Arguably, for liberal Americans, Canada represents a kind of promised land, the place we all plan to head when our own country becomes intolerable. From 2011-2013 I lived in Germany, mostly in Berlin. I had managed to get myself a Fellowship to support my working over there, and it included learning the German Language. It had been an aspiration of mine to spend a significant amount of time living in a foreign culture. I became infatuated with the German language, and a new way of constructing meaning. I also had to solve the problem of producing authentic work - dealing with cultural identity – in a culture that was not my own. I became aware of how much my work with cultural identity was formed by my American perspective, directed specifically at that audience, and how limiting that potentially was. I was officially an “ex-pat” and developed a German identity for myself, one that made returning to the States in many ways painful. The chance to come to Canada means a new international experience, yet one that is much less foreign than my stint in Germany. Pragmatically, the language presents no obstacle – the veil so sheer as to pass for invisible. I already come from a country with significant regional diversity. I could easily have greater difficulty understanding a Southerner or a New Englander than I do a Calgarian. Commercial models and architectural styles are similar if not the same. But as a person who mines cultural identity for meaning, I am more interested in elaborating on the differences than in being numbed by the similarities. I solved the problem of authenticity while working in Germany by investigating the importance of mythologies of the American West for East Germans – a topic to which I, as an American, could bring a particular viewpoint. Can these mythologies – and their differences - be my handle into reflecting on Canadian identity
as well? America’s and Canada’s histories (and mythologies) are intertwined with an unmatched intimacy. This is exciting material. At ACAD, I have my first opportunity in some time to work with serious students. In my desire to push them, and in the effort of their responses, I find inspiration to pursue risks in my own practice. I can see my work in a renewed context, as I am reminded of many of the reasons that I started down the path of this tenuous profession. Because of the time constraints on my residency, my current studio work represents the continuation of existing themes in my work, but my concurrent research is into the history and representation of Canadian identity. I am searching for the “hook” to latch onto that will eventually translate into a fully fleshed studio idea. Feeling alienated within your own culture is uncomfortable. Feeling like an outsider when you are a foreigner is reasonable. I am more comfortable as an “ex-pat.” In a country not my own, I feel a lessening of the burden of responsibility for all that is not just, compassionate, and humane within my culture. I am liberated to enjoy my life in a way I find difficult at home. This is a strange and personal psychological experience, but powerful. As an American, the Canadian flag is pleasantly effeminate. The central icon is from a plant, after all. I don’t mind seeing it wave above me. It reminds me I am back to being in my most comfortable role - the outsider.
Infor me d by H i sto r y b u t N o t Bo u n d by Tradition, ACAD La u n c h e s a n M FA in C raf t Me d i a Bev Rodgers, Research + Graduate Studies Development Project Lead
Marty Kaufman “Eroded Form”
Imagine a boy peering over the edge of a boat as it floats silently above the shifting, crystalline depths of an Arctic lake. I had the pleasure of sharing an afternoon recently with Tyler Rock (the boy in the boat) and his teaching colleagues in the ACAD Glass program, Natali Rodrigues and Marty Kaufman. The intent was to investigate the history of glass at ACAD, where they are all respected faculty members. The conversation , however was as wide ranging as these three are well travelled. We touched upon the pivotal axis of place, of movement and rootedness, and of influences both personal and professional. ACAD launched an MFA in Craft Media in September 2015. It seems a good time to acknowledge, as Marty puts it, “the shoulders we stand on”. I was curious about their shared experiences as students of Norman Faulkner. Norm was the founder of the ACAD Glass program in 1974. He headed up the department for 30 years, while also developing a significant reputation as a pioneer of the studio glass movement in Canada and beyond. Marty, Tyler and Natali represent 3 generations of Norm’s 30 year teaching career. Far too individualistic to ever be considered disciples, the antithesis of Norm’s approach, they are each in their way, stewards of a particular ethos that took root in Glass at ACAD in the 70s and still flourishes to this day. It is an ethos of risk taking, exploration, conceptualization and experimentation; of being disciplined enough to fly without a net. As highly skilled and experienced glass artists, all three are well equipped to support students in their technical development. However, they all agree that success does not have to fall within the context of a single medium. Perhaps it is the mercurial nature of the material itself that fuels this pluralistic and inclusive approach. The diversity of valued personal mentorship experiences within this group is telling. Natali references painter Bill MacDonnell and interdisciplinary artist Vera Gartley as having revolutionized her thinking. For Marty, who was apprenticing in a stone-carving atelier in Paris at age 19, it was with sculptor Katie Ohe that he found a spiritual home as a student. He cites her boundless generosity and level of commitment to practice as a great example to us all. Tyler retains a deep appreciation for the ways that print artist Ken Webb challenged him to re-think process; recalling the joy that Ken demonstrated when encountering work he responded to. Our conversation circled back to the link between travel and education and the role it continues to play for all three. As a child, Natali lived all over the world. Inspired by the richness of a migratory experience and grandparents who were cartographers, she has walked the Camino Trail to connect to family history and explore faith. Her current research interests are situated at the intersection of silence and liminality. Marty, who sojourned Europe from ages 18-24, spends summers working in Rome. This international experience is pivotal, fueling him as an artist and a teacher. Carving and sandblasting undulating forms he subverts and disrupts the material, challenging notions of strength, fragility and beauty. Raised by a wildlife biologist, Tyler spent his youth in Northern Saskatchewan and his summers in the Arctic Circle. The effect of infinite space occupies him. Interpretation of landscape and its relationship to the natural world is in his DNA. After a recent prolonged stay in Australia, he explores the capacity for an object to affect space and activate an experience. Gifted and generous teachers at their core, Natali, Tyler and Marty are quick to share stories of alumni living and working all over the world, redefining glass as a contemporary material. With additional support from teaching colleagues like Jim Norton and Rob Lewis, studio technicians and practicing glass artists Mark Gibeau and Lisa Cerny and a roster of visiting artists, the Glass department thrives. It is, in Norm’s words “informed by history, but not bound by tradition.” All those who resist prescriptive outcomes, value deep engagement and embrace curiosity are welcome to the table. MFA Applications are now open. https://acad.ca/degrees-programs/masters-degree Reprinted with permission of Contemporary Canadian Glass June 22, 2015
Natali Rodrigues “Lacuna” # 3, 2012 Photographer: Ward Bastian
Tyler Rock “In the Making” Installation detail
Facul ty School of Cr i ti ca l C re ati ve S t u d i e s derek beaulieu Al l Work a n d N o P l ay M a ke s Ja c k a D u ll B oy In Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, author Jack Torrance slowly loses his grip on sanity while ensconced in a winter-long residency as caretaker for the seasonally-closed Overlook Hotel. Over the season Jack, a struggling novelist, uses the solitude (interrupted only by his wife Wendy and son Danny) to attempt to construct his new novel. Only a few pages of Torrance’s efforts are revealed in The Shining, but every page consists wholly and entirely of the phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” repeated ad infinitum over a presumably several-hundred-page manuscript.1 In the filmic reveal of Torrance’s creative masterpiece, Wendy emotionally collapses as she finally realizes the extent of her husband’s crumbling rationality. Under the mental anguish of this Sisyphean task of nonlinearity, Jack Torrance’s grip on reality is weakened, much as readers feel the strain of such a non-traditional manuscript. This key scene was added by Kubrick and is unique to the film version of The Shining; King’s original novel contains no such reference. Metatextually, Torrance’s cinematic, recombinant text reflects the role of the author and the futility of the creation of original work. First appearing in James Howell’s Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish (1659), the proverb has a littleknown second line: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy. Extrapolating the first line of the proverb, All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy suggests that novels formed entirely from the materiality of “work” without the “play” of narrative are inherently “dull” both to the reader and the author, refuting John Cage’s ideas of repetition and reiteration. The second line, however, counters this position by arguing that texts that are inherently playful are, in fact, nothing more than poetic playthings—“mere toy[s]”. The ideal text, however, if constructed well, will eschew the “dull” and the “boring” alike. A text should be written, as Craig Dworkin postulates, not in terms of “whether it could have been done better (the question of the workshop), but whether it could conceivably have been done otherwise.” While Kubrick’s The Shining (and King’s novel) suggests that Torrance’s insanity was the result of alcoholism and the influence of the Overlook Hotel itself, All Work presents an obsessive text that documents how the interplay between linearity and nonlinearity sends the author—and Wendy, his sole reader—into a mental tailspin. Conceptually, recreating Torrance’s manuscript playfully concretizes the fictional output of a fictional character. Unshackled from the plot of the film, the page-based representation of Torrance’s cinematic novel is a metatextual commentary on the interplay between text and page, between confessionalism and experimentalism, procedurality and intentionality. The cinematic manuscript has been recreated in differing editions by Phil Beuhler, Jean Keller and the anonymous author published by Gengotti Editore.2 Each struggles with the poetic potentialities of Torrance’s text,3 and each suffers from ungainly editorial 1 This phrase is only used in the American release of The Shining. Kubrick—notorious for his exhaustive filmmaking—substituted different proverbs for international releases. In the Italian version of the film Kubrick uses the phrase “Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca” [He who wakes up early meets a golden day]; in the German version Torrance types “Was Du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf Morgen” [Never put off ’til tomorrow what you can do today]. In the Spanish version of the film Kubrick uses the phrase “No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano” [Rising early will not make dawn sooner]; in the French version Torrance types “Un ‘Tiens’ vaut mieux que deux ‘Tu l’auras’” [A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush]. 2 Rumour has it that both Michael Ondaatje’s and Michael Redhill’s archives contain similar attempts. 3 Torrance, Jack. All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy. Phil Beuhler, ed.; Torrance, Jack. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Gengotti Editore.; Keller, Jean. The Overlook Manuscript.
and design decisions that hamper the text’s ability to mimic Torrance’s cinematic manuscript. This literary varia recast Torrance’s film efforts in a different light, each displaying a series of decision by the editors and publishers that inform the poetics of the “original.” Of most interest in Gengotti Editore’s 128-page version is the inclusion of the standard legal copyright boilerplate: [t]his book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events of locales or persons living or deadis [sic] entirely coincidental  in which authorship and plot become a series of nested boxes. The only “name” or “character” in the novel is “Jack” and the only “incidents” which occur are the implied work and play in which he participates. The boilerplate also defines for the reader that this text does qualify as a “work of fiction” thus setting aside any question of its genre-defying Beckettian minimalism. Jean Keller’s 120-page The Overlook Manuscript is hampered by an editorial statement claiming that Keller found this version of Torrance’s manuscript in the basement of an abandoned Swiss nursing home where Torrance supposedly worked in 1979. This back-story extrapolation is entirely Keller’s, with no support found in King or Kubrick. Keller’s own authorial participation is signaled by the inclusion of the French phrase Un «Tiens» vaut mieux que deux «Tu l’auras» and the replacement of “Jack” with “Jean” on four pages of Torrance’s manuscript. Phil Beuhler’s version of the text is the most developed, faithful and widely publicized of the three recreations and his text is the best candidate for further discussion of the poetics of Torrance’s manuscript. Beuhler’s All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy problematizes the interplay between text and author as the manuscript is no longer the fictional output of a fictional character; it has become as “real” as any other novel. Torrance achieves a corporeal presence that transcends his representation on film with the publication of his novel; he moves from a character in a novel to a novelist himself. Writers only occupy the role of writer when they publish. Writers are only writers when they write; when they cease to write, they cease to exist. The labour of writing defines a writer’s existence, despite Torrance’s dictum that “all work and no play” will denigrate the writer into a “dull boy.” All Work consists entirely of the repetition of a single sentence without any explicit discussion of the traditional tropes of fiction: characterization, narrative, dialogue and conflict. All Work is a documentation of process; the evidence of an obsessive writing practice which reduces writing to the act of writing. The lack of narrative, character and dialogue (the “[n]ames, characters, places and incidents” of the legal boilerplate) makes All Work about material—the accumulation of text on a page. A novel is anything that takes the form of a novel regardless of the content. Beuhler chooses to construct only the first few manuscript pages from The Shining with obsessive detail, retaining every typographic error and idiosyncratic variation but, sadly, he only maintains that neurotic level of detail for the first few pages. After the introduction of such an obsessive practice, Beuhler erratically recreates the cinematic pages of The Shining without indicators of Torrance’s writing practice (errant capitalization, mistyped letters and erroneous indentation), thus turning his manuscript into less documentation than translation. Beuhler’s All Work and No Play makes Jack a Dull Boy succeeds despite this uneven execution as a manual of potential compositional structures—a ’pataphysical encyclopedia of textual manipulation in concrete poetry. All Work and No Play makes Jack a Dull Boy not only rebuilds Torrance’s fictional text, it also channels Charles Bernstein’s dense over-written poem Veil, dom sylvester houédard’s concrete poetry, John Riddell’s typewriter-based visual prose and Aram Saroyan’s minimalist work. The novel is presented as typed manuscript in a fixed-width typeface but strangely breaks this conceit for a 10-page section which—while cleanly aping Saroyan’s minimalist poetry by including only a single word on each page—appears to be typeset, instead of typed, thus breaking the illusion of a reconstructed manuscript. Outside of this project, Beuhler’s oeuvre concentrates on the documentation and exploration of urban ruins, the last vestiges of crumbling hotels, industrial sites and developments. Beuhler’s All Work and No Play makes Jack a Dull Boy is an exploration of an urban ruin whereby the author
maps the possibilities of potential text. Ironically, Torrance’s All Work and No Play makes Jack a Dull Boy manuscript is more indicative of contemporary poetic and prosaic output than one would first expect. The gall to call oneself a writer (and especially a poet), with all the inherent cultural baggage, causes even more pause during those times when one isn’t writing, when life has other plans, when one is between projects, or during that most frightening period of “writer’s block.” What do we do with the moments when we aren’t writing? Are you a writer if you’re not writing at all; when your poetic output consists of obsessive baseball tossing and the obsessive retyping of a single phrase? Can not writing at all be a literary act? Can we consider that an author is adding to her oeuvre by ceasing to write? All Work and No Play makes Jack a Dull Boy levels fictional authors with factual ones, undermines the reality of all authors.
17 years ago I published my first chapbook. A collaborative edition with a then friend in Brampton, Ontario, William S. Burroughs: Ghost of Steel was produced in an edition of 26 signed copies. Each page was designed and laid out in MS Publisher, printed at home, folded and inserted in to hand-printed covers and sewn using needle and thread. Most copies were given away, I haven’t seen one in years. That same format – printed at home, folded and assembled by hand, sewn and given away – has remained my modus operandi ever since. William S. Burroughs: Ghost of Steel became the first of 268 editions that I published through the housepress imprint, followed by over 250 more under No Press. For seventeen years I’ve averaged a publication every two weeks – each one made by hand as a means of distributing the news to a fluctuating community of readers. The Calgarian writing community has had a fluctuating relationship with small press publishing – there have been some beautiful editions from ryan fitzpatrick’s ModL Press, Christian Bök’s CrO2 Press, Natalie Simpson’s edits all over press, Paul Zits’s 100 têtes press (and many others) – but I am surprised there aren’t more. In my opinion writing is a public act, we must learn (even the most introverted of us) to share our work with a readership. See our work as worth sharing, our voices as worth hearing. It doesn’t have to be a huge public gesture; it could 10 copies among friends. Share. There are a growing number of online print-on-demand publishers like Lulu and Blurb, and many photocopy shops will do collation and binding – but those are far from the only options. Anyone who has a desktop printer or access to a photocopier (or a typewriter, or a silkscreen or rubberstamp letters or any number of intriguing possibilities) can produce her own work. Paper, printer, stapler, scissors. A challenge to my peers: publish your own work. Start a small press. Find the material that your colleagues are making that impresses you and publish it in pamphlets, in leaflets, in chapbooks and broadsides, posters and ephemera. It is all too easy to rely on other people to do the work for you – to allow the means of distribution to remain with book publishers, magazines and journals. Small press builds community through gifts and exchange, through consideration and generosity, through the creative interplay and dialogue with each other’s work. Small press publishing allows authors to present their work in a way that physically responds to the content – texture, size, shape, colour and binding all become aesthetic decisions that the author herself can shape. The internet is rife with instructions on how to hand bind books. Make stuff, hand it out, talk to people. The best advice I have is give ‘er
In February of this year, the Hubble Space Telescope photographed galaxy cluster SDSS J1038.4849 in the constellation Ursa Major. Due to strong gravitational lensing, this galaxy exerts a gravitational pull that warps space-time around them and light sources behind them. This Galaxy cluster twists light and creates an Einstein Ring, the result of an exact, symmetrical alignment of the light source, the lens, and the observing telescope. The arc of the ring, when coupled with the glow of galaxies 8842.3 and 8842.4 as viewed with the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 forms a galaxial smiley-face. One can ’pataphysically imagine that these paired galaxies, the eyes on an intergalactic smiley-face would emit the dit-ditdah of Morse code: two dots and a line, the coded frequency of the letter “U.” They stare out in to the void aping an empty and vacuous expression, a hollow gesture of goodwill: a smiley-face calling to you, you, you. In 1963—the same year that Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space aboard Vostok 6—a minor graphic designer working for Worcester, Massachusetts’s State Mutual Life Assurance was asked to design a logo. He needed to counteract the depressing ambience of the town and encourage the insurance company’s employees to think positively. The designer, Harvey Ball, who had served at the Battle of Okinawa, and would retire in 1979 a full colonel, was undoubtedly familiar with Morse code. He drew upon his military experience and training and crafted one of the most insidious and propagandist logos in American military history. He looked to the cosmological inspiration of the stars, linked together 2 dots and a line and sketched a smiley-face. Ball was paid $45 for the 10-minute job and did not copyright his work. In November 1963 President Johnson signs NSAM 273 leading to troop escalation in Vietnam. In 1970, while National Guardsmen murder 4 students at Kent State University in order to quell anti-war protests, two Philadelphia-based brothers—Bernard and Murray Spain—add the slogan “Have A Nice day” to Ball’s design. In 1972 alone, the same year as the presidential election and Nixon’s visit to China, the Spain brothers sell 50 million smiley-face buttons force-feeding the traumatised American public an intergalactic visual soma replacing individualistic thought with insidious banality. The smiley-face has telling replaced the swastika on the cover of the Dead Kenney’s 1979’s single “California über Alles” and was the logo for the jingoistic sociopath The Comedian in Alan Moore’s 1985/86 series Watchmen. In the early 1990’s Nirvana swerved the logo for their infamous “Corporate Rock Whores” T-shirt and, of course, Forrest Gump was given credit for the logo’s creation. The vacant sloganeering of the galaxies is replaced by Forrest Gump’s dim-witted inspirational slop. Franklin Loufrani has successfully asserted copyright and ownership of the smiley-face ever since the 1970s and has successfully challenged Wal-Mart, that most imperialistic of Nixonian corporations into reimbursing him for his claims. He has not, however, sought financial reparations from The Smiley Face Killers, who are allegedly responsible for over 40 murders in several states, including Massachusetts – the home of Harvey Bell, the original designer of the smiley-face.
New Fa cu l t y School of V i s u a l A r t, Pa int i n g Gwenessa Lam
Re s earch Inte re sts In my work, I explore the significance of cultural and personal objects as vessels of collective memory and, conversely, the threat of amnesia when such objects are destroyed. My paintings and drawings depict singular objects, buildings, and tableaux surviving natural or human-made disasters. Through the gesture of erasure and inversion, I am interested in how narratives surrounding everyday objects are transformed when placed under threat or duress. The possibility of erasing or rewriting history has led me to turn to the shadow and the drawn trace as a type of forensic imprint. Given our capacity to preserve or destroy history, I am drawn to these forms of images are representations that simultaneously write and erase themselves. The act of rendering a shadow or an imprint is, in essence, a trace of an ostensibly absent object. This act both reveals and conceals a version of reality; the differentiation between light and dark renders the illusion of a silhouette but not the concrete object that is its source. As in Platoâ€™s Cave, to experience a world of shadows is to perceive its index, a visual echo of the real. In this way, the trace of an image can provide a peripheral point of view, an alternate entrance into lived experience and trauma.
Bi o g rap hy Gwenessa Lam received her BFA from the University of British Columbia and MFA from New York University. Prior to arriving at ACAD, she taught at New York University, Emily Carr University, and the University of British Columbia. Gwenessa has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues such as the Bronx Museum of the Arts (NY), Queens Museum of Art (NY), and Republic Gallery (Vancouver). Her work was recently awarded support from the Canada Council for the Arts and British Columbia Arts Council.
Gwenessa Lam “Falling Tower (Diaolou)”, 2013 graphite on paper
New Fa cu l t y School of V i s u a l A r t, P r i nt M e d i a Heather Huston
I started my migration into printmaking when my undergrad drawing instructors (including ACAD’s own Laurel Johannesson) nudged me towards print. I know this trick now, the imbedded printmaking recruiter-instructor - I am now one myself - but it worked on me. I started looking at what the printmaking students were up to and I didn’t know how they did what they did and I wanted to be someone who knew how to do that too. I completed my BFA in print at the University of Calgary and my MFA at the University of Alberta in 2006, and, after a short stint as the print technician at the U of C, I’ve since taught at ACAD for the past eight years as a sessional instructor. I am thrilled to now join the school as a permanent instructor in Print Media and look forward to continuing to recruit students into the mysteries of print. I love working in print, not only for its material considerations and aesthetic concerns but also because the community you build in the studio carries over easily into the print population at large. Its a social medium, built on sharing through multiples, portfolios and biennials. I’ve been able to build my practice internationally and have been able to engage with other cultures through our common printmaking language. My own practice is split thematically between exploring the emotional resonance of built spaces and the body’s resiliency and failure in the face of illness. I am currently preparing new works for a January exhibition at the Vernon Public Art Gallery called The Body, Stranger. The new silkscreens on plexiglass that form part of the exhibition explore intersections between inner dialogue and social narratives concerning illness and specifically look at small moments where an everyday activity brings a symptom - or potential symptom - into focus and creates a moment where the aforementioned influences push up against each other. I’ve included a preview of several of these works in progress.
Heather Huston “Untitled” (work in progress), 2015 Silkscreen on plexiglass
New Fa cu l t y School of V i s u a l C o mm u n i cat i on D e s i g n Katharina Plass
Born and raised in the center of Germany, I found my passion to pack boxes after finishing grammar school and lived in several different cities in Germany, France, Austria and Japan. This has taught me quite a bit about starting new, changes of perspective, different ways of working and interpersonal styles. I am fascinated by the varied styles of communication and different ways of understanding visual language between the countries. How communication and the long history of a culture are connected to each other and developed uncountable unique styles and an own sense of beauty is something I try to explore wherever life takes me. A big portion of my work in recent years has been in the field of political education. The challenge this offers is to use the visualisation to guide the audience in a direction aligned with certain political vision, but to leave enough space and triggers for discussion. This field of work took me on a variety of complex historic and political journeys which needed to be handled with care. It brought me further on my way to a self- concept that a designer needs to be an author, too. It is the independent process where design and shape follow content that attracts me. It is not simply illustrating and â€œmaking something prettyâ€?, but the engagement with the content through research, reading, gathering, comparing, listening, asking and a more complex understanding of culture and visual language. It is an honour and a pleasure for me to get a chance to teach at ACAD during my time in Calgary and to have a chance to transfer some of my experience to my students. I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible.
Katharina Plass Details of a timeline poster of German History from 2012. Part of a series of four posters in total for the Federal Agency for Civic Education (BPB), which has a mandate from the German Federal Ministry of the Interior to realize a spectrum of publications aiming to explain political concepts and interdependencies. The posters are for use in secondary education and are the results of a collaboration with established authors and historians who compile the texts.
New Fa cu l t y School of Cr i ti ca l C re ati ve S t u d i e s Mark Clintberg
Mark Clintberg is an artist who works in the field of art history. He earned his doctorate at Concordia University in 2013, and was class valedictorian. His thesis was titled “The Artist’s Restaurant: Taste and the Performative Still Life,” which focuses on Canadian, Quebecois, Indigenous, and international contemporary artworks that mimic restaurants by offering feasts to the public. This thesis links these practices to the historical category of still life, giving special attention to seventeenthcentury Northern European still life images and their historical context. Case studies are positioned in relation to: categories of social, ethnic, and gender identity; the circulation of commodities in postcolonial and globalized settings; and the rhetorical properties of the display and service of food. Clintberg’s research focuses on ephemeral practices, public art, the genre of still life, and multi-sensory and affective approaches to contemporary art. His academic writing and art criticism has been published in Canadian Art, The Art Newspaper, Senses and Society, and Border Crossings. He also contributes to the V&A Waterfront / Zeitz MOCAA Curatorial Training Programme (Cape Town, South Africa) as an International Counselor, through which he gives lectures, mentors, and meets with curators-in-training. He has completed residencies for Fogo Island Arts, The Canadian Centre for Architecture, Skol centre arts actuel, and The Banff Centre. Collections that have acquired his work include the National Gallery of Canada, the Edmonton Arts Council, and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. In 2013 he was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award.
Mark Clintberg â€œText mess ageâ€?, 2013 Neon tubing, transformer, dimmer 1/3, 1 A.P. Photo credit: Joe Kelly
New Fa cu l t y School of V i s u a l A r t, D rawi n g / Pa i nt i n g Alana Bartol
Alana Bartol is an artist and educator from Windsor, Ontario. Her collaborative and individual works explore concepts of visibility, transformation and survival through our relationships with the living non-human world and each other. Investigating alternate epistemologies within and beyond the human body, her works propose subconscious processes, dreaming and divination as legitimate forms of knowledge and understanding across place, species and bodies. Through performance, video, drawing, environmental, bioart, and community-engaged art, her work aims to make visible the invisible forces, bodies, and histories in our everyday environments. Often taking on the roles of artist/researcher and facilitator, her collaborative, community-engaged works include Landscape of Forgetting with artist Camille Turner, An Un-camouflaging for Guildwood, a site-responsive performance created in collaboration with the Community Arts Guild (Toronto), and an ongoing project with Shauna Janssen (Montreal) entitled Beyond the Bridge: Postindustrial Border Culture, Communities of Care, and Cats in Sandwich Town. These projects explore ways of creating critical dialogues with and between publics by employing participatory and community-engaged methodologies intersecting around issues in ecology. Works are often created outside of traditional gallery spaces, including community gardens, cultural centres, libraries, parks, and neighbourhood streets. Bartol holds an MFA from Wayne State University (Detroit), where she developed and taught the first Performance Art course in the Department of Art, co-founded the first Student-Run Gallery, and received a Thomas C. Rumble Fellowship. In 2012, she was hired as the first Cultural Animator for the Ontario Art Council (OAC), creating awareness of community arts practice, promoting partnerships between artists and community organizations, and assisting artists in developing grant applications. In 2014, she taught Bioart: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences, an art/science crossover course at the University of Windsor. She was also awarded several grants, including an Ontario Arts Council International and National Residency grant for a research residency with the participation of Bioartist Joe Davis, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston to explore the technics and ethical complications of making artworks involving interspecies collaboration. Bartol’s current research involves investigations of relationships between human bodies and soil inhabitants. Developed in collaboration with artist Amanda White (PhD candidate, Queens University), The Deep Earth Treatment Centre (DETC) explores the relationships between soil and health, bodies and soil habitats, place and identity. Working under the guise of a ‘treatment centre’ the artists engage participants in physical explorations of various soil types with the aim of expanding notions of life underground, imagining new relationships to, with and within soil habitats. The series includes drawings and animation, as well as site-responsive, participatory works and events. Works from the DETC have been developed and presented at The Banff Centre (2015) as part of Food Water Life, a residency with Lucy + Jorge Orta and at the 2015 Association for Literature and the Environment Conference at The University of Idaho. Bartol’s work is currently on display at Access Gallery (Vancouver) as part of Far Away So Close: Part III and will be featured in the December issue of Room, a magazine of Literature, Art, and Feminism and CLOT Magazine, an online Bioart publication. You can view her work at: www.alanabartol.com
Alana Bartol “Ghillie”, 2012 – ongoing Performance series Handmade Ghillie Suit: synthetic thread, netting, grasses and weeds of SW Ontario Photo: Arturo Herrera
New Fa cu l t y School of V i s u a l C o mm u n i cat i on D e s i g n Spencer Goldade
New School of Communication Design Faculty, Spencer Goldade, is a busy guy. After a year ago leaving a 5 year term working with telecommunication company Shaw Communications as a web designer and art directing for the online music provider, Rdio Canada, he now spends his time split between multiple creative efforts. In addition to being a part of our growing faculty at ACAD, Spencer also holds a full-time Senior Designer position at Post+Beam where he leads design, illustration, and user experience efforts, as well he is also the volunteer Events Coordinator for the Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) Alberta South Chapter. If that isn’t a full enough work load, Spencer also spends his spare time furthering his own personal practice, recently exploring themes of mental health and the stigma surrounding it through ink drawing, digital painting, and block printing. An excerpt from a recent project rationale: “Why do we hide our true selves from making an appearance in even our most valued relationships? We create characters of ourselves and then hide in their shadows, too afraid that either people will run for the hills if they get to know the real you, or worse yet accept you for who you really are.” If you’d like to strike up a conversation with Spencer we suggest avoiding sports and politics. Cats, ramen, and where next to go on a warm vacation are probably better bets.
Spencer Goldade “Self Portrait”, 2015 Digital
New Fa cu l t y School of Craf t a n d E me rg i n g M e d i a , F i b re Katarazyna Koralewska
My studies have always revolved around textile art. I majored in textile printing and design, and received my MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz, Poland in 2009. The same year I immigrated to Canada where my interest in textile art developed while working for Calgary based artists. I have been an instructor in the Fibre Program and Continuing Education at ACAD since January 2013. I largely draw inspiration from human form, behavior and social interaction. I consider myself a multimedia artist and have explored drawing, sculpture, photography, video and installation. As of late my focus has been directed towards surface design and silkscreen printing on textiles. In the primary stage of my process I use drawing to record my observations and concepts. Next I combine traditional methods with contemporary, instantaneous technology such as scanning and digital editing. My pieces range in scale from as small as a book cover or pillow case to installations filling an entire room. Working in a greater scale allows me to arrange or alter specific spaces. Patterns became an integral element of my practice within textile art. My imagery is comprised of actual objects as opposed to abstract forms. However, I often manipulate them in order to camouflage their literal form. Frequently I use hands as an ornamental subject, while examining the relationship between aesthetics and utility. Incorporating everyday objects into my hand patterns allows me to portray the human capability to create as well as to destroy.
Katarazyna Koralewska Pattern Obsessed, 2014, silkscreen printing on variety of fabrics, Pattern Obsessed is a textile installation in which I explore the diversity within one pattern. An empty corner is being turned into a living space, which at first seems to be pleasant and cozy. However, after a while, the obsessively repetitive pattern creates overwhelming and uncomfortable atmosphere.
Facul ty School of Cr i ti ca l C re ati ve S t u d i e s John Calvelli
T he Arte-fa c tu re o f Wo n d e r : Pre m i se s Premise I Humans are unsustainable and are headed to species extinction. Premise II The problem of unsustainability is a problem of the image. Premise III Time is an image, produced as an effect of the making of the first tool. (Stiegler) Premise IV We can use the image to create future. Premise V Unsustainability is a problem of inequality, in the form of unequal temporalities. Premise VI The rift of inequality becomes reason-able thanks to Aristotle: “That some should rule and others be ruled is a thing, not only necessary but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, some for rule.” Premise VII This rift leads to others: Skholē vs. Askholia Epistēmē vs. Technē The Liberal Arts vs. the Vulgar Arts The Fine Arts vs. Design (Shiner) Premise VIII Art sustains values of beauty, wonder and criticality, but has little social agency. Premise IX Design is wedded to unsustainable industrial production, but has extraordinary social agency.
Premise X Rifts separate and divide; instead we need a “flat ontology” where all entities affect and are affected by others Premise XI At the heart of both art and design is plasticity— aesthetic, temporal and neurological. (Malabou) Premise XII An image consists of imago and substrate. Premise XIII The imago is pure plasticity and is trans-temporal. Premise XIV The imago is “set” into space via a substrate; thus can be passed on to others in time. Premise XV I call this the arte-facture of wonder. Premise XVI Arte-facture re-pairs the rift by engaging the imago in the metabolic production of common structures. Premise XVII The artefacture of wonder must be extra-ordinary— and at the same time, habitual. Premise XVIII The arte-facture of wonder is a practice of making-wonder and wonder-making. Premise XIX Techno-rationalism has led us to lose our wonder. We need now to make more wonder, through the image. (Arendt) Premise XX The making and (re)distribution of wonder will allow us to create future. (Rancière)
Facul ty School of V i s u a l A r t, P h otog ra p hy Justin Waddell
T h e Lon gt ime Su n The Longtime Sun is a program of works pulled from video-sharing websites (youtube, vimeo, social network public videos), online video databases, artist’s videos, and stock footage. I was particularly interested in developing a narrative arc with the videos, not quite a theme, but rather more of a trajectory. The chosen works reference the recurring, psychedelic, and circular narratives of eastern-inspired philosophies, ambient music, experimental cinema, and noise music. The feature length, 7-chapter series refers to transformative, evolving, dissolving, and emergent processes and includes clips of icebergs flipping or rolling over, hermit crabs changing shells, submarines breaking through Arctic ice, interspecies friends, backyard science experiments, cat-jump fails, dogs chasing tails, people partying on boats, field recordings, volcanoes, etc. The title, The Longtime Sun is appropriated from a mantra sung at the closing of Kundalini Yoga sessions, which was in turn adopted from the lyrics of “A Very Cellular Song” by the Incredible String Band; a pioneering psychedelic folk band on their 1968 album, “The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter.” The Longtime Sun is sung shortly after the completion of the Savasana asana (the death or corpse pose); a period of laying on one’s back with outstretched arms, open palms, and long deep breathing. In Kundalini yoga, a gong is often played to accompany the savasana to aid with achieving deep relaxation through the healing nature of the gong’s reverberating sound currents. The Longtime Sun was featured during Sled Island 2015 between band sets at select venues and was developed through a curatorial residency at Emmedia Production Society. https://vimeo.com/132132876
Facul ty School of V i s u a l A r t a n d S c h ool of C raf t + E m e rg i n g M e dia Rita McKeough + Barbara Sutherland I nter v iew w i th R i ta M c Ke ou g h by Ba r b a ra S u t h e r la n d This past August, Rita McKeough took part in a Rauschenberg residency in Florida. I had the opportunity to sit down with her to talk about the residency, some of her most recent work and an upcoming exhibition at Truck Gallery in January. B. Before we get into a discussion on your most recent work or the residency, would you first talk about your background in sculpture and print media and tell me at what point you shifted to a practice in performance? Was there a particular event that caused the change or was it a natural progression of how you were working in sculpture and print? R. There was a specific moment: I had a solo show in an Artist Run Centre that used to be in Calgary called The Dandelion Gallery. I was invited to show my prints and drawings—there was a complicated narrative, like a fiction. Characters were metaphors for ideas I was working with. When I started putting prints up I knew I needed to create a context that gave a bit more information to the viewer and make it more experiential. So I decided to create an installation where I flooded the gallery. The piece was called Artificial Marsh, and I got a plastic liner and flooded the gallery. The prints were about these twelve brothers who raised macaroons to feed themselves—long story, and I was there running the Canadian Cookie Association that rescued cookies that weren’t ready to be eaten and so on. I thought I’m going to set up an installation where people take off their shoes and wander through the space, to create a more experiential relationship. I wanted the viewer to inhabit the ideas and images in the prints, and I thought I should be there as a representative of the Macaroon Milk Making Company and the Canadian Cookie Association—I was there as a sort of conduit to articulate the narrative. The performance was a character or persona relating to the ideas in the images and in the prints. It was a desire to make the experience of looking at the prints more meaningful. The narrative was complex and whacky—the marshmallows were growing, the prints were there showing the process and the prints became supported by the installation. That was my first installation and I continued to exhibit prints, installation and sculptural objects all meshed together and eventually the prints weren’t involved but I continued with installation and performance. The performance was usually only on opening night and was an on-off switch to the installation and so I perform an activity that gets the narrative on the installation started. That’s where it happened and it was really about not showing the 2D objects by themselves, it just didn’t make sense to me. B. So you feel you get a more direct connection to the viewers? R. I’m a Maritimer; I like to tell a good yarn and to tell it straight-faced “of course this is true”. Carrying out the telling of the narrative is being 100% embedded in it, I like the seriousness, believing it and embodying it. I like talking to the viewer. The story in the Artificial Marsh installation in 1977 was about the 12 sheep brothers who survive on macaroon milk, so they have to grow the macaroons and milk them and if they didn’t the young wild sheep wouldn’t survive, the situation is desperate and has to be maintained, I enjoy that kind of connection to the idea. B. This modus operandi is in your recent pieces too. R. It’s always in the work. B. I remember seeing many films from Iran in the 1990’s. The filmmakers had children in the main roles dealing with adult issues, politics etc., I think as a way of portraying big issues that could get past censors—using metaphor. I feel there is something of that in your work, where it is childlike and playful, which for me feels like a distraction from the seriousness of
the issues because you are, after all, interested in challenging viewers with your work. R. I don’t think the work is about one thing distracting from another, but about all these things happening simultaneously and the playfulness I think has some people rolling their eyes but I’m ok with that, because that’s who I am and that’s how I see the world and how I think. I like seeing the serious issues through those eyes. It’s the power of the imagination that instills hope and possibility of, not utopia, but social change. B. It’s optimism. R. Yes, it’s optimism and that’s a place where I see it and I can embody it, through that playfulness. B. Yes, it’s a lovely outlook to have, because when you are focusing on these ideas in your work it could bog you down, it could get really depressing, so creating positive proposals as ways of thinking about the future maintains your belief system. R. tender is good example of this—It is a hospital that takes care of hot dogs. If they are injured in a buffet, on a plate or whatever, you don’t abandon them. They are in a position of vulnerability and harm and suffering, so you rescue them and heal them… and you heal them back as far as their original source (the cow), and you go back to that ideal for healing and you put them back there. So tender is the best example of that utopia, and where that playfulness can lead you. B. “H” has the same sense of feeling and care. R. Yes, but different and interesting about “H” …is the incredible care the squirrel took of the cell phones. The hours and hours of sitting by the bed, stroking the pillow and the blanket. That belief that the cell phone deserves that kind of attention and care—the dedication to it was there, whereas tender was more of a proposal, but “H” was a performance and therefore embodied. B. Was the performance in “H” an on-off switch as well? R. No, just a performance, the gallery was only open if I was performing…the same as for Outskirts, and Alternator B. Your recent pieces tender, “H”, Lion’s Share, Wilderment, and Alternator all seem to be connected to an Alberta psyche, social, political, economic and I know your earlier work of the 80’s and early 90’s was much more feminist focused and about violence against women, or women’s issues, and there has been a shift in these newer pieces—maybe it happened before these, but these are the 5 I’ve been thinking about… R. Outskirts and Long Haul are two others after the feminist focus. B. I don’t think the work really leaves feminism… R. No, I would say I’m always working from a feminist perspective and I always will. B. Of course, but there seem to be a change to this Alberta psyche. When did you move to Alberta? R. January of 2007, almost 9 years ago B. All these pieces have been made since being here? R. Yes, all of these pieces have been influenced by being here, I did Wilderment first—specific to Calgary, Alternator from driving around Alberta, Lion’s Share from coming upon the feedlots, “H” done in New Brunswick (less focused in Alberta), and tender was about Alberta—motivated by the industrialized agriculture here.
B. A response to place. R. They all are—the only one a bit different is “H”—I do wonder if those pieces will work in other places, so I took Wilderment to Regina; it has similar suburban sprawl to Calgary. B. I like to see the evolution of place influencing the work. R. The interesting thing with the Feminist work was that I moved to Toronto in the 80’s, where I really tried to educate myself in feminist issues. I took women’s studies classes, went to lectures, volunteered and really got involved—the feminist culture there was very strong at that time. B. I’ve heard you speak about your work a few times and know that Patti Smith is important for you, as well as Hélène Cixous and to a lesser degree maybe Luce Irigaray? R. Definitely Hélène Cixous, but I did read Luce Irigaray and Monique Wittig who were influential in terms of my understanding of language and my desire to construct a feminist relationship to language. I did a lot of audio pieces where I allowed multiple voices to sound simultaneously and that was influenced by them: In Bocca al Lupo—In the mouth of the wolf my performance in 1990 focused on my interest in the subversive potential of the chaos of multiple voices. B. I’d like to talk about how you work with materials or the objects in your work because they are really important for your pieces; the ideas are important, but the notion of art being more about the event than the object is really about how we negotiate the objects. You never think about your objects/materials as just props do you? R. No, not at all. Everything I do is about texture, touch, sensation, tonality, and scale. I’m thinking of it all—I grew up as a sculptor and a printmaker, and I think that affects ideas around installation, but I’m a sculptor in the way that I see objects and think about material. In Lion’s Share for example everything aside from the chairs and plates are handmade, the eggs, the hotdogs, the spears, the legs of the tables, the staining, the poop, the chicken. The egg yolks had to be the right colour, the right size etc. But when you’re walking through, you’re not seeing all the details because it’s the details that are part of the bigger installation. It takes months—9 months. Making the object, not making it real, but a reference so that the viewer understands it. You can’t miss that reference…like the hotdogs—all shaped by hand rasping, dipped in liquid rubber that was the right colour and then I hung them from a wire, so that when I pulled the wire out, they had that little knob at the end, like when they tie off a sausage, then I took fine sawdust and rubbed them so they had a matte finish and texture…it was ridiculous! Those tongues were first done in plasticine, from there, I made a rubber mold, then cast a mold, then cast them, then to get them in the spill—I had to pour that and wait until the exact moment of curing to put the tongue in, because it was cast separately and I wanted a seamless fusing of the tongue to the spill—it was crazy but it’s worth it, because now they look like the tongue is coming out of the milk. Of course all of this was done with the help of many wonderful people. I have always relied on the help and generosity of my friends and community. I could never have produced any of my work without their contribution. I always send my love and respect to everyone who has helped me over the years. I am very lucky to have their support. B. How did you get to the Rauschenberg Residency this summer? R. Somebody nominated me, but they don’t tell you who. The residency has been running for 3 years and they have had 5 pilot projects trying it out with different people. They decided on a selection committee and that committee recommends artists. They approach you and you submit your work and your acceptance of being selected for consideration. They check your availability, and then choose 7-10 artists for each residency. I was residency 14. Over 3 years, they’ve had 5 pilots and 14 residencies—about 170 artists. There were 11 artists when I was there—there was one extra because there were collaborators— you can ask to have collaborators come with you. B. How was it structured? I know that there are 20 acres of space on an island off the coast of Florida that Rauschenberg called his home and studio for many years.
View from Main Studio
R. Yes—Rauschenberg lived and worked there from 1973, he bought the land and slowly bought buildings and more land. What was happening is that there was a resort that was expanding and he wanted to protect the land from development. While he was alive, it was originally for his friends. There were 5 houses and his main studio. B. I’ve read that he also wanted to create a community environment. Perhaps trying to recover some of his Black Mountain College days and was interested in hosting groups of people together making art and living his ideal of art changing the world. R. I learned a lot about him and his work, it was really inspirational. I was particularly struck by his generosity—he helped so many artists—he helped many people on the island. He was so generous, always involved in activism. It was really important to him. I didn’t know that, and I was excited to learn about his commitment to the environment, to community and to activism. At the residency there are books, documentaries and archives of peoples sharing their stories of him and I appreciated learning more about him. The structure of the residency is fantastic in every way; everyone is asked in advance what kind of facilities they need, what kind of materials, what kind of studio. You don’t get an assistant, but there are many technicians there with skills to help everyone. They ask what you’re working on, if you need a great big empty space, or a little building—so it’s this dream and they make it happen. So I said I was going to work on a sound piece, that I needed access to the sound room, but I also wanted a studio, so I could work on some drawings for animation (both things for an exhibition I’m working on for January). I was in the main studio building where Rauschenberg worked, where there are smaller rooms off the huge main space and I had one of those smaller studios. It was amazing to be in this beautiful space he used to work in. We all had our space, there were 4 houses as accommodation, two houses for 3 residents each, and two houses for two people (Print House, Curator’s House, the Beach House, Bay House). So I was paired with one other person in the Print House and everyone gets his or her own bedroom and bathroom. There is a separate house that is communal, a social area where a fantastic chef prepares lunch and dinner for you. On weekends you cook for yourself. So it’s amazing—you don’t have to worry about anything. Everyone is there working on their own projects and would come together to eat lunch and dinner. At lunch the staff would join in and the conversations were great, everyone was so genuine and wonderful. We went on boat trips together to tour around the island. They offer artists who want to have community involvement in a project the option of being connected to the local community, or if you’re interested in research, they will help you get to places where you can conduct your research. Then at the end of the residency you can have an open studio, where they invite the local community who are supportive of the Rauschenberg Residency to come and have a social afternoon. People come to look at work and talk or watch performances and share some of Rauschenberg’s concerns for environment and ecology but also to discuss artistic development on the island. Our residency group did an open studio that was really great – a few of us did a happening together in honour of Rauschenberg and it was really fun—otherwise there are no expectations. You give a 10 minute talk at the beginning of the residency to introduce yourself to the others and after that it’s up to you. B. Did you find that your work changed from your intentions when you first arrived? And if so was it influenced by the place or the people? R. Totally, totally—the place! And the people!! The studio technicians were amazing—they were so wonderful…They were wonderful artists, but they could do everything…There was a facilities person who helped me brush up on my aluminum welding (which I had wanted to do); he gave me a great tutorial. But the technician I worked with mainly was the sound person. He could answer all my questions and I stayed in there for days. I was able to stretch my wings and try things I wouldn’t normally be able to focus on, so I was really excited about that. But the main change was the animations. Originally I was going to do drawings and some stop motion animation but when I got there the landscape was so phenomenal, the area is semi-tropical, the plants and animals are amazing—really lush and vibrant and so accessible; you’re walking around and there are turtles over there, an alligator over there and you walk over to the water and the wharf and there are sharks and manatees and dolphins—kind of unbelievable! There was such a vibrancy and intensity to it all. It had a real effect on me. I ended up not drawing but taking tons of photographs and really getting into photography and scanning images and taking pictures and blowing them up and working with them to create my animations. That was a totally and completely new direction and I think it was more interesting for me to be immersed in the landscape.
Ritaâ€™s favourite bird
B. …and it’s an island—so it is a unique ecosystem and you’re contained in this world. R. Yes!—There is a road down the middle of the island—one side is the Gulf of Mexico—a beach with white sand, waves and dolphins, and the other side is a bay that comes off the gulf and it has the big wharf and the Fish House, which was the building that really drew Rauschenberg to that property. A few people have stayed there, but it was mainly for him. Sticking out of the water on stilts, it’s phenomenal—you look down from there and see manatees and sharks. It feels so unbelievable—it’s a rich, rich experience. There are kayaks, and on the other side, you can go out swimming. The joy of all this was infectious… B. You were there in August, so it must have been very hot and humid…? R. Yes, we were the first residency in August because it’s also hurricane season with unpredictable weather. We had lots of crazy lightning storms and heavy rains and there was a fear that Tropical Storm Erica would hit, but she dissipated. But it was beautiful: I think it’s just as hot in June and cools down at the end of September then everyone arrives in November and they’re there through until March and April; then it gets hot again in May. It was very quiet in late August and early September…the last couple of weeks, there was hardly anybody, the roads were empty. Apparently in the winter, there is a lot of traffic. It was super hot, but there was air conditioning everywhere, you could always cool off. B. How about the other residents? R. I was dumbfounded, they were all so fantastic, I kept pinching myself. It was inspiring and humbling and yet, reinforcing, because you’re there and you’re enjoying the company of all these people. We got along really well and we had a great time. It’s interesting because there is always a dancer, because Rauschenberg had a fantastic dance studio built with special floors and sound system and beautiful windows, so the dancer brought a musician as a collaborator and they worked in that space. The musician was phenomenal, they were both amazing. There were two artists from Los Angeles who were musicians, and they came together to work on an experimental music performance; they were songwriters and were going to make an album out of their work there—they’re also artists that do sculpture, printmaking, and new media, but they wanted to focus on this musical adventure. So they were amazing and talented. Also a sculptor from Brooklyn, a poet from Philadelphia (a fantastic writer.) Every time she would read for us, I thought, my god I’ve never heard anything so good in my life. There was also a poet, he was doing research, and he read some things for us and it was absolutely wonderful and his partner, a filmmaker and photographer was there. She was fantastic and they had done documentaries together—they did one on Kiki Smith that we got to watch together which was fantastic. There was a sculptor from New Orleans (originally from Croatia) whose work was really amazing—he worked like a dog (made the rest of us look lazy!) There was also a woman from Poland, she was in the same studio as me and worked with sound, print and print installation; she was very inspiring. What a neat mix! B. So they must make a real effort to have a mix of disciplines? R. I think so, they have a fantastic dance studio, a sound studio, a writer’s cottage, printmaking facilities and sculpture facilities. I think many artists worked in areas that were very new to them because of the excellent facilities and how accessible and well supported they were. B. Was the Fish house a studio space? R. No, it was a common space. B. Something that was interesting to me was how much the ideas in your work resonated with the place; the closed ecosystem of the island, the environmental aspect, I think Rauschenberg was interested in that, I think your work also addresses this… R. The people who run the residency and the Rauschenberg foundation in general are really conscientious about the environment. It was very important to Rauschenberg and the Foundation is continuing his concerns. It was very inspiring.
B. What an amazing legacy. R. …and he was doing all of that when he was alive! B. Please talk about your upcoming show at Truck Gallery in January… R. Yes, the show is called Veins and it opens January 8th. It’s a piece I’ve been working on since before I went to the residency, but what I completed at the residency is the sound—a 20-minute layered multi-track audio piece that is part of the installation and there are short tiny animations that will projected throughout the installation, these were finished and developed and completely influenced by the residency. So those two things; everything else is ongoing and still to be done. I am deeply motivated to develop this particular work by my sense of unease as it relates specifically to the ongoing planning of oil and gas pipelines. I want this work to look more broadly at the sheer complications of the risks we take. B. You must wish you had more than a month in Florida? R. Oh yeah! I got so much done, it was a once in a lifetime experience being there, I felt so revitalized when I left there, I couldn’t stop smiling. The day we took the group photo at the Fish House we were all standing on the deck and as we were standing there looking down a mom and a baby dolphin whooshed past us. I was so happy that I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t contain it, it was so beautiful and the people were so nice and the studios were so amazing…the Rauschenberg Foundation covers travel and they pay you a stipend and really facilitate making the work. The residency is a great legacy. Rauschenberg is quoted as saying “Art can change the world”…and the residency itself is based in that belief, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing but it’s the belief that what you’re doing is valuable and it needs to be supported—everybody there is either feeding you or helping you—it’s all about what can they do to support the art that’s being made. You leave with a belief in a renewed sense that what artists are doing is important. Artists are working and dedicated to what they’re doing and it’s supported by the Rauschenberg Foundation. You get that in other residencies as well, and that’s what is so important about them, but there was something special about the place and Rauschenberg’s history that made this an exceptional experience. A lot of artists will go through, they’ve only been going three years and already 170 artists have been though—they’ve only just begun. An artist who visited ACAD, Buster Simpson, was there on a pilot project and ended up being asked to lead a thematic residency on climate change—they published an amazing document. With climate change and sea levels rising, that island could be underwater in 50 years, so they are looking at the future of the residency; they are already thinking about that… B. Thanks Rita. Veins by Rita McKeough at Truck Gallery - Opening January 8, 2016.
The Beach House Rauschenberg Residency Captiva Island, Florida Photo by Rita McKeough