Decadence: From start to finish

Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan has wrapped up. I'm really proud to have made it to the final round, after being voted into the top 5 public choice votes in my category of installation. I had a great experience being in Grand Rapids for 10, meeting people while installing my sugar mural, and teaching several hundred kids at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, which was also the venue that hosted me and my artwork. 

Here are the final images of my mural, called Decadence. The statement I had for the work is also listed below if you want to know about the concept behind the piece. 

STATEMENT: "This ephemeral sugar mural is dedicated to excess. It’s made of sugar because what could be a better symbol of desire and greed than this mouth-watering pleasure that culturally, has been turned into a staple, found in almost every meal. Sugar is also a symbol: a stand-in for all those other commodities that circle the globe, helping corporations to grow and the individual to diminish. Sugar’s painful history of slavery may be the past, but let’s ask ourselves how many other commodities are linked to new forms of slavery and oppression? Decadence is a term often used to describe opulence and luxury. But the origins of the word imply decay. Decay feeds the opulence… So what happens when moderation turns to excess? Come watch and see… the living, and reciprocally, the dying process of this mural will happen gradually over the duration of Art Prize. Pieces fall apart and images fade, not unlike history and our memory of events."

Learning Through Sugar

I had the honour and privilege to teach several hundred kids during Art Prize Education Days in Grand Rapids, Michigan a couple of weeks ago. I was there for 10 days creating a site-specific sugar mural at the Grand Rapids Public Museum for an event called Art Prize. The museum invited me to teach kids workshops for 4 days to ages ranging from 5-17.  I developed 2 different types of age-appropriate workshops, both using edible sugar-based materials.

Before each workshop, the kids saw my mural. I spoke about the concept behind the work, how it relates to the history of sugar and its' links to colonization and slavery. I explained how the decay of the work over time, through fading and crumbling, is linked to the relationship between the wealth of some and the ruin of others. I encouraged them to think about where materials and foods come from today. How are things made? By whom? Do forms of slavery and oppression continue today?  

As always, I got interesting questions and some very thoughtful comments. I think kids grasp complex subjects better than most adults think and we should bring them into conversations more often. I left each of these 4 days feeling tired, but very much rejuvenated. I certainly hope to teach kids workshops again. I think I can learn a lot from them... 

 

PEOPLE, PATTERN, PLACE: Melville, SK: Take 3!

Here is the final instalment of this series of 3 photo shoots I did in Melville, Saskatchewan in June and July of 2017. It's part of my series called "People, Pattern, Place" where I create geometric formations using people, and the colour of their clothes, to create the patterns. 

The goal of this project is to connect people: in these times of conflict and division, this project is my humble attempt to bring people together. By symbolically bringing people together to create these harmonious formations, I'm hoping it can be the catalyst for new connections and relationships in communities.

In this, the largest formation I did while I was in Melville, we had some amazing community support! We had the 4H club, the Sil Foo Kung Fu club and the Melville's Mils baseball team (the players are also mostly American, so I was super stoked to have them come out and show come community pride!). And of course, to complete the design I had a few more individuals come out to be part of this living quilt. #peoplepatternplace

This initiative is made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, the Government of Canada, The City of Melville and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast.

Cette initiative est rendue possible grâce au Fonds communautaire pour le 150e anniversaire du Canada, qui est une collaboration entre the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, le gouvernement du Canada, le Ville de Melville, et des leaders extraordinaires de l’Atlantique au Pacifique à l’Arctique.

PEOPLE, PATTERN, PLACE: Melville, SK - TAKE 2!

On July 8th, I did another formation at the Melville Heritage Museum lawns. I loosely call this one "Rider Pride"!  Nearly everyone around here has a Saskatchewan Roughrider shirt, and those who don't, have green or white! It was yet another sweltering hot day in the prairie summer. Thankfully people didn't have to remain baking in the sun for too long.

This initiative is made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, the Government of Canada, The City of Melville and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast.

Cette initiative est rendue possible grâce au Fonds communautaire pour le 150e anniversaire du Canada, qui est une collaboration entre the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, le gouvernement du Canada, le Ville de Melville, et des leaders extraordinaires de l’Atlantique au Pacifique à l’Arctique.

 

PEOPLE, PATTERN, PLACE: Melville, SK - TAKE 1!

3 new photo compositions done in Melville, SK are complete!  I'm still in the editing room, going through the photos, so I'll post each one in different posts. This was the first one I did on June 24th. It was loosely themed around Canada Day, with participants wearing red and white. We also had a few MSC high school students from the local SADD chapter wearing their shirts (Students Against Drinking and Driving).  It was a small group, but I think we did some good work... :-)

This initiative is made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, the Government of Canada, The City of Melville and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast.

Cette initiative est rendue possible grâce au Fonds communautaire pour le 150e anniversaire du Canada, qui est une collaboration entre the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, le gouvernement du Canada, le Ville de Melville, et des leaders extraordinaires de l’Atlantique au Pacifique à l’Arctique.

Our Heroes: Community project with WIBCA

Throughout the month of April, 2017, I've been heading out to the West Island of Montreal to work with WIBCA (West Island Black Community Association) to create an artwork on the theme of "OUR HEROES". The resulting artwork will be mounted on a parade float, and part of the Pierrefonds-Roxboro parade on July 1st. The borough invited 5 contemporary artists to work with different community groups to create parade floats on different themes. If you can make it out to this parade on July 1st, I highly recommend it! 

Members of WIBCA chose 6 prominent black figures through history as representations of their "Heroes". Those people are: Marie Joseph Angelique, Mathieu DaCosta, Viola Desmond, Mary Ann Shadd, Lincoln Alexander, and Michaëlle Jean. Images of these people are integrated into the artwork, as well as printed on fans that will be handed out to people along the parade route. Since these people all have such amazing stories, more info about each person is printed on the backs of each fan. 

The concept of using fabric and round, sewn forms (referred to as "yo-yo's" or "fuxico") is derived from a series I have been working on, which began in Brazil, called "People, Pattern, Place". I create human formations that reference patchwork styles common to each area. Just as fabric is a series of threads, that, once woven together, becomes stronger, so to do communities become stronger when individuals come together. 

The images below show us all hard at work, cutting, sewing, painting.  I wish I had recorded some of the conversations that took place over the 6 workshops... pure gold! Something magical happens when you bring a group of people together and have them sit and sew together. Sometimes they're called "stitch and bitch" sessions. For me, it was more like a "stitch and share" or a "stitch and learn". I feel truly blessed for having the opportunity to work with this group. Again, art has enriched me, and I hope I can share that enrichment with others. 

Thanks to Emmanuelle Jacques for coordinating the project; The Borough of Pierrefonds-Roxoboro for supporting this project, and of course, thanks to WIBCA for welcoming me and sharing their energy and time for this project. 

Peace and love. 

CONNECTS March 10th

Last week Friday, March 10th, my 2nd edition of CONNECTS took place in Montreal's Mile End at the headquarters of Oopsmark, where owner Jesse Herbert creates his stylish tools for urban living. It's a seriously cool company: www.oopsmark.ca
This time it was a 5 á 8, casual mixer with drinks and samosas. I had some art for sale, and a donation box for people to contribute to my PEOPLE, PATTERN, PLACE community participation art projects. I'm fundraising to help make these projects a reality. I'll be doing a series of these human quilt formation photo shoots in Melville, Saskatchewan this summer, and then planning a return to Brazil in 2018 to work with several communities there. 

So how did things fare??  Pretty great, I would say! It was a very cold night, with a sudden deep freeze setting in just after 5:00pm that night.  But those who braved the frigid weather found a lot of warmth and positive energy at the event. We had fashion and graphic designers, inventors and scientists, concrete fabricators and art historians. An eclectic mix of creative minds, as I had hoped!  And, I was wearing galaxy pants... so what more could you ask for! 

More events will be announcing in the coming months. Right now, I have art production to get back to!  I will be leading some community art workshops in Pierrefonds, Quebec in April. I'm also working on a new public art commission for a school in Hochalega-Maisonneuve.

If you couldn't make it to the event, but you'd like to contribute to PEOPLE, PATTERN, PLACE, your donations are greatly appreciated. I received a matching grant to buy necessary equipment, but I'm looking to secure the other half of those funds, $2500 in total.  And of course, more of my CONNECTS events will take place down the road... Stay tuned! 

Ancient Remains: Print Edition Release

Recently, the city of New Delhi, India banned all forms of single use plastic. See more details here http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-delhi-bans-disposable-plastic-single-use-a7545541.html

Hearing of this news inspired me to release a print edition of a sculpture I did in India during a sculpture symposium. This work is called Ancient Remains. I created this design in response to the proliferation of plastic water bottles littered about, as well as how I, as a foreigner, was highly encouraged to only drink bottled water. At the residency, I was forbidden from re-filling my bottle with filtered water for fear of my safety.  It made me really think about what legacy we were leaving behind: what would the ruins of the future look like?  Plastic remains.

I would like to continue to push forward the agenda of cleaning up our water ways, and ensuring clean drinking water for everyone. Much of the disposable plastic in the world ends up polluting our water ways and ocean life. $10 of every print sold will be donated to a water organization. 

Prints will be available for purchase at CONNECTS, Friday, March 10th (details in previous post), as well through my website soon... 

CONNECTS: 2nd Edition 5 á 7

(Français ci-dessous)

Friday, March 10th, 5 - 8pm
160 St. Viateur East, #800A Montreal. 

CONNECTS is an event initiative I’ve created, centred around community-building and connecting the creative-minded, forward-thinking people in my personal and professional social network. These events double as a fundraiser to assist with participatory-community art projects I’m doing in the next year. 

This edition will be held in the Mile End at the spacious customized headquarters of Oopsmark, the brain-child of Montreal-based Jesse Herbert. http://www.oopsmark.ca/

Come by from 5 to 8 for a casual mixer with music, beer, wine and original artwork on display and for sale. Pay-what-you-can entry and bar. 

The goal is to bring interesting, creative, vibrant people together to share ideas, say hi, buy art, strike up a conversation, collaborate, have a human connection. Step away from your computer now… and come talk to some humans! 

Beer and samosas!

____________

Version française:

Vendredi, 10 mars, 17h00 - 20h00
160 St. Viateur Est, #800A Montreal. 

CONNECTS est un projet de souper que j’ai créé comme moyen de collecter des fonds pour des projets d’art communautaires axés sur le développement communautaire et ayant pour but de connecter des esprits créatifs et visionnaires de mon réseau social personnel et professionnel. Nous n’avons pas besoin de FaceTime ou Facebook; nous avons tous besoin d’un peu plus de temps face à face avec nos camarades humains!

Cette édition aura lieu dans le Mile-End au spacieux siège social d’Oopsmark, l’invention personnelle du montréalais Jesse Herbert. http://www.oopsmark.ca/

"Pay-what-you-can" entrée et bar.

Le but est de rassembler des personnes intéressantes, créatives et dynamiques pour partager des idées, acheter des œuvres d’art, lancer une discussion, collaborer et avoir un contact humain. Alors, laissez tomber vos ordinateurs dès maintenant et venez parler à des humains! 

Bière et samosas!