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Launching Vessels Peer Arts Practice Group Creative Report

Worth Their Salt Karen Melady & Linda Wiebe


Table of Contents Peer Arts Practice Group 2015: Launching Vessels From the Program Coordinator Challenges and Motivations Process Based Art Creative Report Style

2 3 4 5 5

The Peer Arts Practice Group Amy Zoethout Angela Eckert Catherine Weber Dana Lumby Jodi Jerome Karen Melady Linda Wiebe Michele Miller

6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20

Outcomes and Recommendations

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Peer Arts Practice Group 2015: Launching Vessels Culture is the fourth pillar of sustainable economic development. To reinforce that pillar Rural Response for Healthy Children collaborated with community arts group Worth Their Salt (WTS) to support economic options for women in Huron County. A grant from Status of Women Canada supports the Opening Doors for Women in Huron program through which WTS artists Linda Wiebe and Karen Melady designed an arts process project. Primary challenges we wanted to address were isolation and low visibility of women in the arts. We assembled a group of peers diverse in geography, age, creative genre, and stage in creative practice to share how we create. By sharing how we create we learn new methods and reinforce the methods that work for us. Over the course of three months the group met and explored through arts processes the concept of our practice as a vessel - the way in which a practice both carries our creative impulses, visions and expressions and is carried by our care, commitment and innovation. Through sharing, exploring, reflecting and making, each woman discovered the depth, value, desire, and direction her practice carries. Launching the vessels of practice from this experimental peer practice group has led to, among other results, an increase in visibility and a decrease in the isolation formerly experienced by each as a rural creative woman, reaching out, networking, staying connected, putting her practice out there. Each has taken her experiences as added momentum to her creative practice. Possibilities coming out of this project are an artist run cooperative, economic development workshops for artists, community hubs for arts workshops and ongoing art making, greater exposure for artists’ work, expansion of peer practice groups, and collaborative innovation for arts based endeavors and businesses.

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From the Program Coordinator Rural Response for Healthy Children (RRHC), a community-based, parent support agency, has always supported women as they’ve undertaken important work. Whether that work is nurturing children, creating beauty or sustaining community, so many possibilities are generated when women work together, create together, support each other and inspire each other. RRHC is pleased to have played a role in the development of this women’s peer practice group. With the support of funding from Status of Women Canada, women in the arts in our community have, and will continue to, enhance their social and economic opportunities through peer support and collaboration. Many thanks to Worth Their Salt for coordinating this initiative, and congratulations to all of the women participating in this creative endeavour – the first of many to come. Pam Hanington, Program Coordinator, RRHC 3


Challenges and Motivations The beauty of the rural environment we live in feeds us as creative women. At the same time, the abundance of space and nature also means isolation and limited access to a large audience for our work. Getting together to share the experience of creating and living a life that honours the value of beauty is of great importance to women in the arts. A peer group can support, in spirit and in fact, a woman on her arts path. The absence of a large arts community can mean having to explain and justify the creative life to friends and neighbours (and relatives) for whom work in the arts is not a familiar, lived experience. In addition, a desired result of sharing this project through this report is that the larger community become aware of the value of artmaking in the lives of all individuals and the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from it. Artists help reinforce and celebrate cultural identity. The arts benefit creatively active communities through the development of innovative thinking and consolidation of learning leading to resilience and new ways of working. Artists participate in the larger economic fabric of community when they make, present and market their work. We encourage everyone to build the creative potential of community by recognizing your own and others’ creative acts and feeding your creative drive.

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Process Based Art Process based art making is different from product focused art making. The goal of process based art is the new knowledge gained from exploring materials and methods, and in our project, from sharing our experiences with others. For example, we began our sessions with check-ins springing from dream collage cards - a visual anchor and a trigger for deeper sharing and idea making. We shared our diverse backgrounds, experience with media, locations on the path of our arts practices, and how our sharing was affecting our relationship with our practices. The resulting artwork contains layers of meaning for the maker that may not be visible to the viewer. In this project the piece is a symbol to the maker of her own practice. The vessel contains a reminder of the peer group experience, a connection to members spread out over the county, and encouragement to span the time and space that separate us.

Creative Report Style The style of this report reflects the purpose: to inform about art making through creative methods. Each woman’s experience is presented. The Vessel Summary is a poetic rendering of each woman’s experience of exploring her arts practice. We hope that the Where she is going and what she wants section will be encouragement for each reader to consider the potential in their own creative paths and to share that potential in community. The Launch Line came out of a final timed writing exercise where we reflected on our relationship to the symbol of our arts practice, the vessel. The writing was further condensed down to this one line of connection to the vessel, a reminder that a creative life is an ongoing journey and how we journey is constantly evolving. In Outcomes and Recommendations we present the possibilities coming out of the project, some of which are already in play. 5


Amy Zoethout Goderich

Materials wood · cotton · muslin · thread

Vessel Summary Arms wide open raised to the sky celebration revealed in the fullness of the joyful belly. Returning to skills as seamstress re-entering the practice this time with different materials and rough edges chaos contained in smocked stitches tradition revisited. Revisit in layers of fabric containing secrets (reminding us of great aunts and grandmothers) recorded in the folding and stitching and tucking in. Wooden arches become bridges to freedom arching from belly containers contained and hidden connecting and revealing the joyful secrets. 6


Where she is going and what she wants Amy continues to develop her business Feast for Good: “A Goderichbased pop-up creating events that focus on feasting together on all that is good to eat, good to see, and good to do.” She and F4Good can be found at Goderich Farmers Market and Makers Market, providing “soupscriptions”, catering for small gatherings, with products at the Made in Huron Shop in Clinton. Amy is all about community action. She teaches sewing to children at The Tinker Shop in Goderich and grows food using communal, public space.

Launch Line

Besides “accomplishing a piece of art and connecting with other women in the county in creative and wonderful ways” an upshot for Amy coming out of the project is the “inspiration and desire to continue to pursue further creative outlets and partnering with Dana Lumby to build on F4Good's Makers Market success to develop maker spaces” with the focus of getting together and creating - to encourage, be encouraged and be filled up and inspired by sharing company. “We are actively pursuing renting space and we hope to hold some brainstorming sessions soon to get some input from the creative community on this development.”

trying

Contact zoetalors@gmail.com 519-524-5141

making

failing playing creating seeing form building sewing breaking finding joy reflecting joy feeling connected 7


Angela Eckert Seaforth

Materials reed· tissue paper · acrylic medium

Vessel Summary How to begin? What is the shape of a practice that one is still discovering? What are the container and mode and method? The feeling of searching leads to something primary: bright yellow, round, radiating from the centre. The purpose: allow light through. The vessel of practice suggests going out in six directions, having a bright centre. It remembers that we layer elements and cut away and relayer, and that all of this is through trial and error. We have dealt with frustration and uncertainty. We have helped and been helped by coming out, being seen, being encouraged, getting feedback from others, and we notice that the simple form, the primary impulse is good round, yellow, radiating - a good container for both focus and action, for going out and coming back in, for letting the light through while remaining positive, like the sun in a child’s picture, or the lantern in the evening. The vessel is a yellow drum played with light, beating out a bright vision. 8


Where she is going and what she wants Angela uses her networking drive and skills – like that sun with its radiating lines of energy. She connects people to people and herself to groups. By her nature and practice she takes her agricultural heritage and connects people to each other and this heritage. The Huron Food Action Network is one of her groups. It combines local and global considerations to food access and sustainability. The historical ’Round House’ of the Seaforth Agricultural Society where she works has a shape reminiscent of her vessel. Her vessel reflects her going out and bringing home possibilities of action in her rural community, looking at ways to be creative in that, and so honouring the practice of growing food and feeding people, her personal heritage and legacy.

Launch Line Adding layers then cutting them out. Using those cut out pieces to add again. 9


Catherine Weber Exeter

Materials reed · wire · paper · fabric

Vessel Summary Yellow speaks to her, but does not say why! Vibrancy attracts vibrancy. Here is a life filled with enthusiasm for painting, drawing, teaching art, costume making, creating community through art. And here is the work of dairy farming and its daily rituals. She asks: How much time do you spend in a day doing what you really want to be doing? Expert hands, vibrant enthusiasm - always ready for new mediums. Pastel, watercolour, acrylic and encaustic. Vibrant colours surface in figures and portraits and rural landscapes in this country with contours different from the place of her birth. The desire to create weaves threads of connection out of a variety of contour lines, concentric, meandering, shaping. By embracing the new and gathering in community she creates a vessel of practice that is a transition from the comfort zone of twodimensional media to new comfort with three-dimensional sculpture. Like the egg, this vessel is strong and delicate, nourished at the centre. Happy. Restful. 10


Where she is going and what she wants A practicing artist, Catherine brings vitality and great and diverse talent and skill to her activities. In the spring she can be found sewing costumes for Stratford Festival. Her inspiring, motivating, ‘let’s do it’ energy is a gift to her community. She maintains her visual arts practice as an accomplished painter, a signature member of Pastel Artist Canada, and is co-founder of Sunset Arts in Grand Bend. In addition, she motivates the arts community in South Huron as an artist and teacher and through the community art hub Art Around Town. She takes her learning of new mediums from the Peer Arts Project and offers it directly through her teaching practice. Catherine would welcome the reviving, inspiring effects of an ongoing peer group, meeting and creating together throughout the county four times a year. Contact artcweber.com

Launch Line My vessel became a safe place to be in happy restful content but also encouraging to imagine the touch and smell of the different materials

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Dana Lumby Goderich

Materials found objects · wood · moss · wire · ribbon · wool · plants

Vessel Summary Some containers need to be made because there is so much to hold. And when the practice has such a push to grow the container needs to grow with it. The exploration of practice happens everywhere, in all time zones, in deserts and cities and rural landscapes with a lake right beside. Road trips are part of the practice. Coming home is part of the practice. A vessel needs a place to park - needs a park. A practice needs other practices to compare, and encourage and consolidate, and cooperate.

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Where she is going and what she wants Dana makes fabric arts, encaustic paintings, up-cycled objects and apparel, mixed media mobiles. Out of the peer arts vessel exploration she is actively looking for collaborators to create a makers co-op. She is putting her work and herself out there at the Makers Market in Goderich. She can be found networking, building, learning more about marketing and selling, and growing a following and a practice. Stay tuned! Contact danalumby@gmail.com

Launch Line Make a basket, a vessel, with found objects. Cast it outside from whence it came. Revive, revisit, re-incorporate its own little forest. A Forest is a vessel. 13


Jodi Jerome Wingham

Materials book · paint · glue · paper · ink · found objects

Vessel Summary What vessel goes fast and contains, leaves nothing blown about on the road of access, meetings, moving, solo and suddenly together journeying? Timing. A practice needs timing in order to contain and meet. The To Do list is glorious. Time marches. Getting words on paper, including virtual paper on a screen, is a lifelong passion. And in the margins of time there are images that do not want to be translated into words. These are creeping into a practice that has been bound by abundant, fecund words, but now the images – inky and stringy and delicate and insistent – the images are growing across pages and that is good. Two dimensions give birth to three – in the hand and in the mind. Paper becomes more than something to turn but something to enter, to plant in, to pull from, again to hold in the hand. A practice can be so squeezed between phone calls in cars – interviews, job offers, meetings with heroes - that the reward is great but calls out for something that makes one stop and look and discover. Time does not stop but splits into stained glass and wonder. 14


Where she is going and what she wants Writing still consumes the bulk of Jodi’s time - historical research, newspaper and magazine journalism, but the possibilities arising from the peer practice experience draw her toward remedying the isolation that rural artists experience: “Art is usually such a solitary pursuit, that it was great to connect with other artists in the area to see what others were doing, learn something new, and make new friends.� The peer arts project has fed back into her writing, calling out for more experiences integrating other arts. From her experiences in writing circles and this peer arts practice project she is looking for the benefit of similar opportunities. She suggests a dedicated arts space within existing facilities in the north, south, east, west and central areas of the county. Some uses for the space are an artists co-op and regular open studio times. Other offerings she would like to see are visual arts workshops, with guest artists doing demonstrations/teaching, as well as training in online marketing and e-commerce specifically for artists. She would love opportunities to mix with artists of all mediums and from all over the county on a regular basis. This would bring balance to a words-dominated schedule, complementing and feeding back into her writing work. Contact jjerome@hurontel.on.ca 519-357-5065

Launch Line An amoeba within a hardcover-spined structure floating beyond its boundaries, going deep and wide and changing shape with whatever current my mind, my thoughts, my hand takes me. 15


Karen Melady Goderich

Vessel Summary In a life guided by dreamwork, expressed through a multitude of talents, one looks to the horse-carrying vessel to define the practice. It's both a water and air-going vessel of the night and day. The Good Night Mare and the Rapt Stallion receive thanks for carrying the load. From this translucent floating vessel we fish with hooks of thought and sometimes catch necessary encouragement from unexpected sources. The boat-fish is a message from an unseen larger vessel of spirit carrying her. The horse part of the self with the power and nature to run free is so often given the bulk of the load. But in the group experience and in the true beauty of an arts practice it is contained and transported in this boat joyful, uplifted, ready for a journey, going with a flamboyant, mysterious, free flow. 16

Materials reed · tulip tree wood · grass · tissue paper · tape· acrylic medium · acrylic paint · embroidery floss · watercolour paper · shell buttons · fabric · fabric dyes · marker


Where she is going and what she wants Karen continues her pursuit of diverse creative practices: dreamwork, dreamwork studies, writing/blogging, teaching lantern making, designing community art projects, making sculpture, fabric art. She is leaning forward on her horse into the world of performance – something collaborative, versatile, buoyant. While an abundance of creating is happening in the community, she would like to see a greater awareness of the time, energy, and expertise required in creating art—how arts and creativity drive innovation and make communities vibrant; more promotion/ marketing of Huron arts assets and arts products outside of the fabulous Huron County. Contact dreamelady.com worththeirsalt.ca

Launch Line It’s a horse in a boat with thoughts like bait and mail and fish on hooks of thought. Herein stands the horse of my night. Give it a go, Good Horse. 17


Linda Wiebe Goderich

Materials hand-made paper · pencil · reed · grass · wheat paste · pattern tissue

Vessel Summary When there is a lot to carry, when the practice is almost a lifetime, what is the vessel? It is of a size and shape, of a character that reflects time passed, future aims, targets, destinations, collaborators, receivers. It has had to go deep and resurface. Submarine or amphibious. Containing all the travelling in artmaking – pen, brush, torch, hands, paper, wood, wax and more. And all of this travels around the world in networked images, in real time, and in real life art on the wall of a home far away, and in hands-on learning in a studio smelling of honey and heat. Here swirls and lines and depth of colour are translated by teacher and by students of all ages into thought-binding and thought-freeing feeling things.

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Where she is going and what she wants Finding a balance between money-making through teaching, doing online marketing, in-studio art classes, community art projects, family… and making art. This is one of the challenges. There is no one full time job and this is both a blessing and a curse, and so much a part of the rural/small town artist’s experience. How to be global and local? How to offer artwork that speaks in myths and the vibrancy of colour? How to get that mythic content out in the world? It can do its work - going deeper and wider – on land and water. Contact lindawiebe.ca worththeirsalt.ca

Launch Line My boat is a skeleton waiting for muscle. Is the boy the muscle? Even with the grandmother energy... Big things are happening.

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Michele Miller Port Albert

Materials reed · acrylic medium · tissue · paper · watercolour paintings · fabric · tape · cord · bamboo

Vessel Summary In the midst of peak creative action approaching first solo exhibition: A Vision of Home she said another yes this time to creating in a peer arts community. Drawn to the exploration of vessel of practice she sees and feels her artistic practice pushed to the limits in the urgency of creating. How to relax and trust? Through playful boat building - two dimensions becoming three - she journeys in a new direction with vibrant, generous energy, illuminating bright green. Like her paintings, her boat carries home, the people and animals and places of love honoured in a life guided by faith.

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Where she is going and what she wants “I think the biggest impact has been on being more aware of the importance of sharing my work with others and also in being around other artists. As artists we frequently work in isolation and often don't have our hard efforts appreciated or seen by others. Having the input of other artists both stimulates our own ideas and can give way to new experimentation and direction as well as possibly giving us new eyes to see our own work with. I will push myself more to meet with other artists as well as show my work more. “The working in 3-d and in mixed media was a stretch for me and reminded me of the importance of play, letting go. The act of creating has a way of taking on a life of its own when you let it. “The use of dream cards to stimulate ideas was also helpful in allowing me to reflect more on the connections of memories and things in my life with my own art work. This was very valuable with my art show and although I was already journaling in my art practise, I think it opened me to other ways of stimulating ideas as well as asking more questions as I work.” Contact michelemiller@gmail.com 519-529-3303

Launch Line Just keep going and trust – the ebb and flow of creating Just start - the piece (art) will take on a life of its own 21


Outcomes and Recommendations 

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Physical space for meeting to collaborate on marketing and networking to provide structure for accountability and accomplishing goals Opportunities to connect with other artists in the area to see what others are doing, learn something new, and make new friends Personal art time in a group setting An artist run co-op with regular drop-in art nights Having guest artists do demonstrations Workshops - tailored to artists, perhaps offered by working artists that include: -business of art workshops -how to start a small business -accounting for a small business -marketing -social media -promotion -how to export products -how to set up for sales on the internet -how to take credit card, Interac payments etc.

  

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Partnering with Huron Economic Development Corporation and/or Employment and Skills Development Canada as two sources of funding or expertise Assistance with promoting Huron artists/arts products outside of Huron Municipal support for the arts Creating awareness of the time, energy, expertise, value of creating art


“So many possibilities are generated when women work together, create together, support each other and inspire each other.”

© 2015

Launching Vessels: Peer Arts Practice Group Creative Report  

A 2015 research and development project on the effects of peer practice on economic development for women in the arts in Huron County - Onta...

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