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.