From June - December 2015, immediately following the completion of my MFA in Visual Art at the University of Calgary, I served as the Rozsa Foundation ARIIVA intern at the University of Calgary's Nickle Galleries and Founders' Gallery. I was well prepared by previous professional experience with museums and galleries, including Open Space Arts Society (Victoria, BC) and the University of Victoria's Maltwood Art Museum & Gallery (now the Legacy Galleries), to take on this role. As a result, I transitioned into the internship very smoothly and all three gallery curators, who were my closest colleagues throughout the internship, quickly recognized my diverse abilities and interests, and they created opportunities--well beyond those stipulated in my employment contract--that enabled me to take advantage of my full range of skills. These opportunities, among them my independent curation of two exhibitions and development and oversight of three public programs for the galleries, became the highlights of my ARIIVA experience.
Stories of War: Personal Narrative and the History of Conflict, an exhibition of 70 grade seven student paintings inspired by Dutch War Brides by Beverley Tosh, was displayed in the Founders’ Gallery from June - August 2015. In addition to curating and installing these student paintings to complement Tosh's work, I designed a corresponding eBook that includes each student’s artist statement and installation photographs for presentation to the students, their school library, and Beverley Tosh as a document of the exhibitions.
From my substantial collections management research on the Canadian Inuit art and artists in the Nickle’s holdings, I proposed and curated Games for Life: Canadian Inuit Prints and Carvings from the Collection of the Nickle Galleries. The exhibition, installed in the Nickle Galleries window, was displayed from December 2015 - May 2016. I took responsibility for all facets of exhibition planning, including the selection and retrieval of works from storage in the TFDL Library and the High Density Library, writing a curatorial statement, curating the selected works in the window, and installing the exhibition.
Following my updates to the Nickle Galleries' public art archive, I researched and guided a tour of public art on campus, which curator Michele Hardy included in the Fall 2015 roster of Nickle at Noon Lectures. I additionally designed a corresponding online and print catalogue to encourage self-guided public art tours among Nickle visitors. The Nickle curators invited me to offer the public art tour again in May 2016 during the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences to make the University of Calgary's public art collection more accessible to our international scholarly community.
In complement to Barracks to Banks: Canadian Silkscreens for War and Peace, curated by Lindsey Sharman and exhibited at the Founders’ Gallery from September 2015 - January 2016, I developed and facilitated an all-ages winter holiday card silkscreen workshop to educate participants about the complex and exacting process of screen printing. I created imagery for the screens inspired by the pastoral Canadian landscapes depicted by members of the Group of Seven and mixed custom hues of ink to reflect the palette of the exhibition. I produced screens and registers that enabled participants to mix and match images that they could then keep for themselves as works of art or send with holiday tidings to friends and family.
Finally, I capitalized on my 500-hour international certification as a yoga teacher during the University of Calgary's Stress Less Week by guiding daily lunch hour body-focused yoga nidra sessions in the Nickle Galleries to remediate end of term stress and forge a link between meditation and the contemplative experience of communing with works of art.
Upon completing my internship, I shifted my focus to developing my studio practice and exhibition record. Since December 2015, I have participated in Luminous Bodies, a two week residency on Toronto Island that aimed to shed new light on the human body, for which I received an artist opportunity grant from the Calgary Arts Development Authority; contributed to Dreams, Visions, Guides and Vespers, a four-person exhibition at Krowswork Center for Video and Visionary Art in Oakland, California; and completed the Sankalpa Centre for Dreams and Visions, a project and exhibition at the Lightbox Studio in Calgary's Arts Commons. Additionally, excerpts from my MFA thesis, Motherland: Country of the Healer, Country of the Healed, were published in the International Journal of Social, Political, and Community Agendas in the Arts and invited for Pulse: Anthology of Critical Texts (Calgary: Emmedia, forthcoming).
This fall, I have been invited to present the results of "How Do I Feel Right Now?", the public engagement initiative I developed in the Sankalpa Centre for Dreams and Visions, at the Universities Art Association of Canada annual conference in Banff, AB, and to participate in AWAKENING, a ten day residency on Toronto Island that aims to provide a safe, sacred and inspirational space for creative and spiritual seekers to explore their practice within the framework of earth-based spirituality. In spring of 2018, I will collaborate with Galen Cranz, Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley, to curate an exhibition of her ongoing research on drawing, design, and somatic experience that acknowledges her findings as both data and art.
My emphasis at the Nickle and Founders' Galleries on public programming continues to motivate me and refine my abilities to develop unique participatory initiatives that engage audiences with my own art and curatorial projects. I intend in the long term to balance my studio practice with professional engagements in museum and galleries, particularly public institutions or those affiliated with universities, where I can engage my skills in program development, public speaking, and teaching, and connect with audiences from broad demographics and diverse backgrounds. My time with the Nickle and Founders' Galleries has been an important stepping stone toward that goal.
I gratefully acknowledge Lindsey Sharman, Curator of the Founders' Gallery, and Christine Sowiak and Michele Hardy, Curators of the Nickle Galleries, for their warmth, support, and humour, and for holding space for me to challenge myself and expand professionally. Deep thanks also to Lisa Tillotson, John Hails, Doug McColl, and Marla Halstead, for their hard work to ensure bottom to top smooth operations of the Nickle Galleries, and for making every day fun.
For more information about ARIIVA (A Really Interesting Internship in Visual Arts), please visit our ARIIVA page. Visit the Nickle Galleries website and Founders Gallery website for more information about exhibitions and programming.