Artists have a unique approach to reuse and repair, usually finding their own path to making things whole. It is an approach that works for some of us, where the step-by-step instructions may not. To explore this, we will be interviewing artists who repair/reuse items or make use of found objects in their work, developing transferable skills on the way.
The first artist featured is a musician, Greg Chambers, who (with his wife Lisa Nighswander) have been part of the Toronto indie music scene since the 1990s. (Currently, they play together as part of the band Away Forward). They have also spent many years working in theatre production and when the pandemic hit, Greg found both skills served him well and developed a side hustle of fixing amps and other musical electronics.
This video is a work in progress still- we are working on animation to unite the theme of the video, but we are grateful to Greg for giving us his time and perspective. If you need an amp or stereo repaired, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
This project is supported by the City of Toronto through its Waste Reduction Community Grants and by the Ontario Arts Council through its Artists in Education and School Grants.
There is enough if we share.
We love Little Free Libraries. But how about a...Little Free ART Library?
Participating in Works-in-Progress helps me practise that walk away from a scarcity mindset. During the shut-down I signed up to our neighbourhood's Buy Nothing Network. It's been fascinating witnessing stuff shuttle around the neighbourhood in real time, helping people out, moving to homes who could very much, yes please!, use those empty plastic plant pots/really old golf clubs/extra plastic grocery bags/kid's bike/cookbooks.
And it's helped me feel more connected during an isolating time in a fun, casual way.
The cupboard is from that network. The plastic sheet is from my friend Anna. The super-not-environmentally-friendly-but-outdoor-sturdy paint was leftover from a project of older child's years ago.
Plan: cut out middle of doors, finish painting them to match frame (and cover that beige!), add plastic, re-attach, add knobs. Add legs/spikes on the bottom to secure in lawn. Add roof. And of course, decorate :-)
Ta-Da! Little Free ART Library!
After years of (and ongoing) homeschooling, we have plenty of art supplies and things that can be used as art supplies. Some of them have been handed down, some passed to our youngest child from our oldest, some found, some gifted to us, some bought and well-loved, some bought and hardly used, waiting for someone to be interested.
This is our un-tidied-up workspace. (Though as many of you now experience, the whole house is a learning space). It's also a works-in-progress ;-) We're hoping to share what we have, to give back, to have fun. To be a place to go to on a walk with your kid to discover what's there, then see what they can create with what they find.
Oh, and there will definitely be a few Works-in-Progress kits and Extember issues in there. Gotta spread the love and the walk ;-) There is enough if we share.
Many people across Canada (and the world) are just learning about the 215 children found buried in an unmarked grave outside of a residential school in Kamloops BC. Works-in-Progress artist Jiyoon Moon made this image as a way of processing this information.
"Those moccasins..." she writes. "I can't imagine what it would feel like to have my kids taken away from me..."
It is not new information, but it has brought home the findings of the TRC. In 2015 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission completed a process begun in 2008 with the apology by then PM Stephen Harper to all First Nations, Inuit and Métis people whose lives had been affected by residential schools. There was a thorough report based on the witness stories of thousands of former students and staff of residential schools across Canada, and 94 calls to action for schools, governments and individuals. You can find out more here on the TRC site: http://www.trc.ca/about-us/trc-findings.html
As artists (writers, musicians, performers) you need to process. Making images, writing poems, singing songs, helps us to internalize information, seek the truth, true relationships with the truth, a way to communicate your truth and best medium for making the truth felt. Another artist in our collective, Marnie Saskin, tried to understand the recent renewed conflict in Israel and Palestine, as someone who has no skin in the game, and she felt it helpful to consider the settler relationship to this land. I will add that when I find it :)
And me, i am a video artist and painter (here's my video site) my daughter and husband are writers and speakers and I can use my tech skills to share their voices. Ursa is now 18, but she gave this speech back in 2015 for a grade 6 speech arts contest at her elementary school. It is a fantastic summary of the tragedy of residential schools in our shared history. (turn on Close captioning, the audio is a little like it was recorded in a gym, which it was.)
It was 6 years ago this week that the TRC issued their calls to action, including a demand for churches and governments to release their records so we can know about the unreported deaths like these 215 lives in Kamloops.
We all need to understand our shared history. Inform yourself, whatever your process.
Our stereotype of the artist, the entrepreneur, the scientist, the explorer is of a person alone, creating, competitive, secretive. We embrace a different model- while we need to spend time on our own work, we all benefit from working together, sharing our work and knowledge and funding and networks.
We have worked in the same arena as Helen Frank, aka local mender and "craftivist" @HelenMendsto, taking part in Eco Fair last Fall, and then made a video of her workshop at the Textile Museum of Canada this Spring. And when we saw that she was bringing her workshop to Yonge street Mission, we offered to make a video to share, so here it is.
We are excited to have connected with the work being done by Yonge street Mission through their storefront Double Take. We hope to work with them further, via swaps, mending kits with Building Roots and maybe programming or art initiatives. Yay!
art experiments turning waste into beauty