Meanwhile, in Waterloo Region lives are changed

As the world continues to swirl about us – political maneuvering, terrorist attacks, climate change – the quiet life in Waterloo Region carries on.  Ignoring the world is not the answer, but it is equally important that we hear and share the stories of how everyday people enrich the life we share here.

I finished producing this short video for House of Friendship last week. It documents the renovation of the agency’s Emergency Food Hamper Program building at 807 Guelph St. I started way back in August 2016, capturing daily time lapse sequences and live video. The real story didn’t emerge until the finally weeks, when we discovered that early in her career, Teresa O’Reilly a project manager for the job, depended on the program to help her make ends meet.

Watch as Teresa tells her story about how the Emergency Food Hamper Program changed her life.

 

Advertisements

Finding John Lingwood: The Search Begins

record-building-evening
 

Kitchener-Waterloo Record building, designed by John Lingwood, opened in 1973 at 225 Fairway Road South, Kitchener. Building photos courtesy of University of Waterloo, Special Collections & Archives, Kitchener-Waterloo Record Photographic Negative Collection

 

The first time I set foot in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record building on Fairway Road in 1979, I knew right away something important was going on there.

It was early in my newspapering career and most of the newspaper offices I had know were makeshift affairs or dishevelled versions of their former selves – places where broom closets sometimes masqueraded as darkrooms and reporters worked cheek-by-jowl with advertising sales staff.

For someone as green as a new shoot, entering a purpose-built building felt a little like stepping into a temple. The Kitchener-Waterloo Record was one of the country’s leading daily newspapers, run be people committed to the ideals of journalism.

I ended up spending over 25 years of my working life there. From photographer to website editor, it became my professional home on the inside and an iconic landmark on the outside. Although it’s now demolished, the building will forever loom large in my life.

And now, I stand at the gateway to a new year, 2017. Once again I’m feeling as green as a new shoot and once again I’m remembering the Record building.

af-logo-square-colourI recently received a grant from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund to support my latest and most ambitious project, “Finding John Lingwood” – a 60-minute documentary film about the life and work of John Lingwood, one of Waterloo Region’s most prolific and influential architects of the mid-20th century. Other supporter of the film include the Grand Valley Society of Architects and WalterFedy. I’m also fortunate to have a network of support for my whole practice that includes numerous agencies and individuals.

The Record was one of many buildings on Lingwood’s project list that included everything from modest homes to churches to university buildings to civic buildings. Starting when he opened his Kitchener practice in 1955, the list shows more than 640 different jobs completed before his death in 1996.

“Finding John Lingwood” is my quest film – a search for essence of this man whose work influenced my life deeply.

Along with the Record building, I will take an in depth look at two other Lingwood sites and the communities that grew up around them:

  • Among his first design projects was 20 modest family homes  build by Freure Homes on the west end of Manchester Road in Kitchener. This was where John Lingwood lived much of his life with his wife, Betty, and children Linda, Wendy, Cameron and Lisa.
  • The building Lingwood is best known in architectural circles for is the the Carmel New Church, 40 Chapel Hill Drive, Kitchener. Although he designed many churches, this one formed the heart of a faith community. Adherents built their homes close by and the neighbourhood of Caryndale was created. The community continues to evolve as people who grew up in there and moved away are now returning to raise their families.

The search is just beginning. Stay tuned to see how the journey unfolds.

Watch “Road Hockey Stories: Episode Two – Mitch” First Goal

Here’s Episode 2 in a series of teasers for Lost & Found Theatre’s new play “Pocket Rocket” by Waterloo Region playwrights Lea Daniel and Gary Kirkham.
We will be showing all the stories we’ve collected as a pre-show treat at performances of the play April 20 to 30 at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener.
For more information and a peek behind the scenes visit the Lost & Found Theatre’s blog.

Watch “Road Hockey Stories: Episode One – Paul”

I’m having a great time talking to people in Waterloo Region about their memories of playing road hockey
I volunteered  to start this series of short videos to help Lost and Found Theatre promote the world premiere of Pocket Rocket a new play by Lea Daniel and Gary Kirkham.
Checkout the Lost and Found Theatre blog to get a peek behind the scenes of the video series and the play.
Here’s Episode 1.

On being funded

2014 OAC Logo Colour JPG

I know it’s taboo, but I’m going to talk about money.

In particular I’m going to talk about the money I received last week from the Ontario Art Council through it Exhibition Assistance program.

I’ve tentatively arrived at the “career” of artist as I navigate my middle years – a journey partly of necessity and partly of design. I’m emerging as an artist, so to be validated by the province’s premier arts granting body is cause for celebration. It’s a milestone coupled to my time as Kitchener’s Artist in Residence in 2014.

The grant is based on recommendations by local arts organizations, usually galleries or artist-run centres who assess applicants and suggest funding to the OAC. I applied through the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery and its senior curator Crystal Mowry  for support for the final exhibition of my Kitchener residency project called Neighbourhood Voices in the Rotunda Gallery at City Hall.

interactive video installation

The exhibition of 16 photographic portraits of everyday Kitchener people along with of an interactive “Story Mixing Station” was a gateway into a collection of personal stories gathered over the residency. The work encapsulates the way in which our stories intersect to create a third narrative or meta narrative of community life. You can read more about the Story Mixer in my earlier post, “Mixing Messages in Kitchener.” The stories can be viewed outside the mixer on this YouTube playlist:

Although the application for exhibition assistance is quite simple, the idea of it was daunting.

Here’s the official description of the program: “This program is open to Ontario-based professional visual artists, craft artists, media artists and artist collectives who have a confirmed, upcoming public exhibition. Exhibitions in Ontario, in other Canadian provinces and in international locations are all eligible.”

Writing an application to someone you know, someone you see regularly at openings, someone who has THE creds in a world in which you are a newcomer, someone such as Crystal Mowry, is way harder than writing for a faceless, nameless jury – at least I thought so.

Since entering into the community of art makers in Waterloo Region, I’m surprised regularly by the generosity of my colleagues – a willingness to share ideas, experience and work. So, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the mentorship so willingly offered by Crystal in the application process.

Preparing the application was less work than other grant applications I’ve been involved with, but Crystal’s attention to detail and insistence on proper form gave me more valuable take-ways than any grant writing workshop I’ve attend.

Average income for Canadian artists from all sources is a little over $31,000 annually; so, funds granted by the Ontario Arts Council are crucial to enabling artists to create and exhibit their work. Equally important though, is the networks and development of art making in individual communities nurtured by these grants.

For me, there is much to be thankful for in the grant:

  • The money, of course
  • Validation as an artist
  • And the mentorship of experienced artists

 

 

Mixing Messages in Kitchener

interactive video installation

As part of my residency at the City of Kitchener in 2014 I developed an interactive video installation for two gallery shows that gave visitors the chance to mix together two of the video stories I created as part of the year-long project, Neighbourhood Voice. The mixing of the stories creates both resonance and dissonance with the lives of the people both in the story and the viewer. This deepens the connection between the viewer in the storytelling and creates a unique of the of the stories each time they are played.

I intentionally paired the stories to reveal my reflection of filming and editing each of the story and intersection of the experiences. The storytellers  – a 90-something war veteran and 30-something full-time mom – in the video below are both deeply connected to their community, but in vastly different ways. How they choose to play out their connect offers insight into the passage of time, the importance of symbols and moments in our lives connect us to the place where we live.

The video is an example of the how one person experienced these stories.

For more Neighourhood Voices checkout the series playlist on my Recent Videos page.

Career change … finally!

blog-psost

After years of dabbling in art – everything from sculpture to play writing – and three years of tentative practice as a digital media artist, I’ve made the leap.

With the writing of my first artist statement for a grant application, it’s official.

I AM AN ARTIST.

For the seasoned artists among you I’m sure this seems naive – maybe pretentious. Why would anyone want or need to make such a declaration? For me it is a more personal than public acknowledgement of a new direction in my life … a career change. It comes at a time when one might be planning to rest on one’s laurels.

This is a frightening idea, but in the creative life work comes to us with a need to be realized.

Over the past three years my emerging career has been nurtured by the generous spirits of other artists, friends and community partners; so, I offer this in recognition of their encouragement, patience and faith.

Artist Statement

My art is centred around the personal narrative and its resonance within the large societal narrative.

Using all forms of media – still images, audio and video – combined into video, I strive to bring people’s personal stories to light and cast them as players within a community space. Videos can take the form of the traditional documentary, narrated slideshows, video installations or low fi pieces created by the storytellers using simple media tools.

Most often I work in partnership with community-based organizations to establish a project framework and recruit co-creators. I seek out partnerships that help me explore issues of social justice, human dignity and scarcity-versus-plenty. I prefer to work with groups of 3 to 10 people.

Projects follow a narrative arch beginning with story exploration, followed by media creation and/or collection, and then sharing of stories. I aim to honour people’s personal stories while bringing a new perspective to the work through curatorial practices of collection, relationship making and interpretation.

The resulting videos continue to resonate throughout the community with each viewing. The creation process is embedded in the personal narrative of each co-creator – including me.