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Artist Becky Thiessen Reflects on her Completed Cross-Canada Journey

Artist Becky Thiessen Reflects on her Completed Cross-Canada Journey

Artist Becky Thiessen Reflects on her Completed Cross-Canada Journey

October 23, 2017

by Becky Thiessen

Travelling and making art with others, is a dream come true. We have such an interesting country. Such variety in geography and people. I think about all the various places in Canada that I have gone and marvel at the extreme differences in landscapes and weather and waters. I think about this diversity and then I think about the people. We do live in a special place. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and make art with many Canadians, young and old with so many different stories to tell.

I love when a parent comes with their child and initially think that the art making is for the kids. My goal in my workshops, is to engage everyone. I always encourage the parents to participate and not just with the child, but on their own as well. Many adults have lost that excitement with art making, and I love bringing it back to them. I designed my art project to be very accessible. I adapt it so that the very little can participate, the people with mobility issues, the older people and the ones who haven’t touched paint since grade 3. We all started to draw before we learned our letters and numbers, and I think that people can find their drawing skills again as an adult. My project also engages the most technically skilled, it is a process where anyone, if they want, can participate with success.

I have many stories to share. I have a collection of stencils and each one of them has reminds me of the different people I met along the way. The stencils pay it forward to the next community. In Alert Bay a soon-to-be mom, was making a stencil of a butterfly. She told me that she comes from the butterfly clan and wanted to make a baby bag with a butterfly stencil. That stencil then travelled with me to many other places and used many times over. In Notre Dame-de-Lourdes a young woman, who was also pregnant, was drawn to that butterfly stencil and started using it, I was so thrilled to tell her where it came from and who made it. A little girl on her tenth birthday came and made art with men Saskatoon, she was a little bit apprehensive about the project. She drew a puppy and I cut it into a stencil. That stencil became one of the most popular stencils. I got to meet up with her later and tell her, that her art inspired so many others. It was so fun when two teenage boys wandered into my workshop in Lethbridge and ended up staying for hours.

I had so many joys working with people, teaching them a technique that they might never have known before. It really can be such a joy when the art under the stencil is revealed, so much cheering and laughter. I had a great time sharing my art with so many Canadians. I want art to be accessible and I want people to explore and learn new things and have confidence in themselves to create.

The more I travel Canada and meet others living in this country, the more excited I am to learn about my country and the people who live here.

Becky Thiessen

Visitors explore Becky’s mobile art studio on Nuit Blanche

Artist Evin Collis Reflects on his Completed Cross-Canada Journey

Artist Evin Collis Reflects on his Completed Cross-Canada Journey

Artist Evin Collis Reflects on his Completed Cross-Canada Journey

October 23, 2017

by Evin Collis – East Route

The ART EXPRESS’D project was an important initiative to unite various communities across Canada together through the spirit of free, accessible, collaborative community art making. It was an opportunity to further learn about the great expansiveness of Canada and its richness, diversity, regionalisms and enduring complexities that exist.

There were many exciting moments during the journey. By the nature of the project, there was a strong element of improvisation and spontaneity. The vibrant, colourful murals painted by the participants from Art City that enveloped the container demanded a lot of attention and curiosity.

Each community was very welcoming and eager to animate the project. Many participants liked the idea of contributing to an evolving travelling community art project. We had a multidimensional studio set up where people could choose to paint, work on the life sized papier mâché sculptures or create stop-motion animations. There were plenty of activities for participants of all ages to engage in and jump between!

We began our journey in St. John’s, Newfoundland with the Eastern Edge Gallery who generously hosted us and from there travelled to Halifax where we set up by the water front for Aboriginal Day Live, where we easily worked with hundreds of participants. The following day, we drove the truck and container to a youth centre in the North End, which caused a great deal of excitement in the community and we made some wild art. The next day we drove out and pulled up at an elementary school in Lower Sackville, which was amazing. The level of genuine engagement and the exhilaration of the participants while seeing the funky truck pull up amplified the mood and contributed to the creation of the artworks. After Nova Scotia we travelled to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island where we had a steady stream of participants and created some fantastic animations and a giant papier mâché fox. The group from the C3 icebreaker – which was enroute to the Northwest Passage – stopped by on Canada Day and we made a wacky animation together about their journey.

Moncton was our next stop at the Musée Acadien. Moncton is such a great artistic city and we had a number of groups of fearless young artists who leapt into the art-making. Joliette, Quebec followed where we worked at the Musée d’art de Joliette, which is a fantastic art museum. We had an overwhelming and dedicated response from Joliette and the surrounding communities.

We concluded our tour in Ottawa, in the container village. La Machine, a street robot puppet troupe was in town from Nantes, France so the streets were thick with people out enjoying the spectacles. We had an incredibly popular booth and worked non-stop, making dozens of animations and created a huge cat person out of papier mâché. It was very rewarding experience and having the opportunity to meet with a wide range of people from throughout Canada and the world was special.

There are many different perspectives of Canada and Canadian identity so it was a privilege to listen to everyone’s ideas and experiences as they shared them in the context of the travelling collaborative art project ART EXPRESS’D.

ART EXPRESS’D / ART EXPRIMÉ and Nuit Blanche

ART EXPRESS’D / ART EXPRIMÉ and Nuit Blanche

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Winnipeg and ART EXPRESS’D/ART EXPRIMÉ

Late Summer 2017

As the mobile art studios travel around the communities in Canada, video footage of the adventures will be collected en route for documentary and communications purposes. The WAG will equip our Gallery in Winnipeg with a replica shipping container art studio, where visitors can follow the project’s progress via online feeds, view art produced in the various locations, interact on social media, and participate in expressive art making activities first-hand.

Once the three travelling studios/galleries arrive in Winnipeg from their cross-country tour in late summer 2017, they will be installed at Winnipeg’s largest visitor and tourist site: The Forks near the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. ART EXPRESS’D/ART EXPRIMÉ will give citizens across the country the opportunity to speak to national issues, challenges, and successes. In this way, Canadians will be inspired and empowered to participate in helping shape our nation as it enters its next 150 years.

Finally, on Saturday, September 30, 2017, the mobile art studios will be on view for Nuit Blanche, a free all-night exploration and celebration of contemporary art that takes place on the Saturday of the Culture Days weekend from dusk to dawn. Held annually since 2010, the events and exhibits attract thousands of people to the three zones of activity: St. Boniface, Downtown and the Exchange District. NBW 2017 will take place on Saturday Sept 30.

Stay tuned for more information!

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