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Archive for the ‘community’ Category

As an artist, you have to be proactive about getting your work out there in the world. Since I belong to a quilt guild, I can count on being able to enter my work in the triennial show we put on. And as a member of a group of fibre artists in my community, I find it’s a struggle to find a suitable venue for our annual group show. But in June, I learned about an unusual call for proposals for art to be hung at a new health and community services centre being planned for the neighbourhood.

When it opens in 2019, the Oakwood-Vaughan Health Clinic will offer “a range of services with a focus on community members who face barriers to health care such as people living in poverty, isolated seniors, non-insured, people with complex mental health issues, those requiring interpretation and living with unstable employment.”

Artists in the surrounding community were encouraged to submit proposals for artwork that will be displayed in the programming space, clinic offices and foyer of the new centre. Themes could focus on community, health and youth, as well as the cultural history of the area. “We hope to promote the creativity that allows all to express and trust themselves. We want artists to show a spirit of inquiry and exploration through their art pieces.

Of course I was thrilled when my proposal was one of the 25 accepted. They called us all together for a “meet and greet” session on July 31. The organizers explained timelines and next steps and also issued $150 honorariums to each of the selected artists.

I had done a great deal of pondering and planning up to this point, but now that I had the green light, it was time to move on to the construction phase!

My concept for this piece is to evoke the new health centre’s intent to reach out to the community.

Here’s my artist statement:

“The arm is not one colour. It is not white, black, beige or brown, but in keeping with the multi-cultural diversity of the Oakwood Vaughan community, and indeed Toronto as a whole, it represents all skin colours. Our skin colour is immaterial. We are all part of this community … we help each other.

From my own collection of pressed leaves, I selected five different species of oak leaves and used their shapes to create fabric ones that “sprout” out of each finger and thumb. This represents healthy growth and renewal, while also supporting the importance of diversity.

Reaching out for strength within. 33″ w x 20″ h

The tree trunk, from which the arm is protruding, portrays the strength, not only of the mighty oak tree, but of our community, when we work in unison.”

picture of health centre exterior with Janet in foreground with her bike

Delivering the artwork

I delivered my completed piece in October, and on November 15, a “sneak peek” event was held to view all the submissions. What an impressive range of artwork has been gathered from community artists!

On October 22, a jury will announce their decision on the top three artworks that will receive significant cash prizes. But I feel that it is rewarding enough to be able to create what I hope is an uplifting piece of art that will be discovered by both staff and visitors at this valuable new centre.

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Christmas Eve

As Toronto bravely makes its way through a terrible ice storm, and I prepare to step gingerly across the icy sidewalks to get to the subway to get to work for the last time this year, I am thinking about the frailty of life. All the connections in this great big city – seen and unseen – some working and some faltering – affected by a confluence of weather conditions that we can’t control.

Peace to all on this Christmas Eve.

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About six years ago, I was fortunate to discover a small group of women in my community whose interest and obsession with making textile art equals my own. Each year since then we’ve managed to find a place in the neighbourhood to mount a display of our creations.

A few times it was a room in a church, several times a funny little vacant space on the side of a building (called “Side Space Gallery”), once in a café, and this year, in a yoga studio. The expansive white wall that spans the length of the studio was just begging to be lit up with our colourful creations.

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Grounded

We negotiated with the studio owner to have specific hours (around her classes) where people could come and see the exhibit, each weekend throughout the month of November.

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A Patch of Stillness

This Saturday, we’ll be holding the opening reception for our show at the Studio for Movement.

A week ago, we met to “hang” the show. None of us knew what each other had created, so it was a bit like Christmas morning when we spread everything out on the floor to get an idea of what the collection looked like. Amazingly, it all came together beautifully. It’s astonishing how some of us, working independently, used similar colour palettes and themes in our work. This made it fairly easy to create groupings that complemented each other.

I worked pretty hard to get two new pieces finished (each participating artist is invited to submit two pieces) and was still stitching on the labels the day we hung the show!

A third piece I had brought along (Open Arms, aka Driven to Abstraction) turned out to be just the right size for one of the walls, so that means I have three pieces in the show!

Getting together with my artist friends to plan and execute these exhibits, on a shoestring, has proven to be a great catalyst for all of us to learn, laugh, experiment and share our art with the community.E_invite_2013

If you’re in the Toronto area, I invite you to come by and be inspired!

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With all the recent weather-related and other catastrophic events happening in Canada and around the world,  we are sometimes uncertain as to how we can help our neighbours.

Luckily, I came across the Just One Slab Quilts Recover Southern Alberta project – the brainchild of Cheryl Arkison. It was an easy way for me to contribute my skills to a worthwhile endeavour aimed at providing some comfort to the many people affected by the damaging floods.

The distance between us is more than 3,000 kilometres, but I felt I was part of one big community of quilters putting our hands, hearts and needles together in an effort to let others know that we care.

All Cheryl asked was for people to make a slab 15.5” square. “You can insert the white bit or not, that’s your choice. Just aim to make your block in a single colour. Make as many as you like,” she stated on her blog. The blocks were inspired by Cheryl’s “The Missing U” quilt from her book, Sunday Morning Quilts.

Cheryl has local volunteers all lined up to put the blocks together and produce the quilts. As of the middle of July, she already had 276 blocks. I contributed two blocks, and because I packed them in an unusual way (rolling them around a foam cylinder and then wrapping brown paper around it) I could easily  pick out my package out in the photo showing a pile of the latest arrivals in her blog post of July 29!

Quilters are Warm People

I am really looking forward to seeing the colourful results of this comfort project. A big thank-you goes out to Cheryl for her leadership. Quilters certainly are warm people!

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