Art in the Park: August

It took the first couple months of summer to really get some roots in the soil here at Victory Park.

By August I had a better understanding of the personalities that flowed into the space and wanted to settle into a bigger project. Most of August was spent working on a mural and shadow puppets. I was really pleased to see how excited the folks were about exploring shadows, it was an area I myself really wanted to learn more about.

The beginning of the month was very relaxed, informal and flexible. We spent the whole first week of August just exploring ideas and sketching designs that we could potentially add to the mural outside.

Because we share the space with the DEWCAN committee, I volunteered to offer a craft station at their Donovan Days event. It was a success, many parents and children alike came to sit on our blanket and make artist trading cards.

Here are some photos of what happened during August!

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Some of the sketch ideas for the mural; a theme of faces and flowers emerged.

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Here are a few of the puppets made for the shadow puppet performances!

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Because the group at Victory Park is not static, it is difficult to create one solid piece from start to finish with the same people. I learned to appreciate the program as more of a ‘drop-in’ art time for anyone. This final mural design allowed for everyone to have their own piece of a tree to create their own mini designs. I allowed about a week for the mural painting so that everyone had a chance, even if they missed a day or two.

* The mural was still incomplete at the time of these photos.

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‘My Path.’ This workshop allowed the youth to outline the path or road of their lives from birth to now.

Some revealed they had been bitten by a dog, some revealed their family members and some simply used colours to express who they are and how they feel.

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Finally, we began making posters to share the upcoming celebration for the end of my contract as Community Artist-in-Residence at Victory Park.

“Look at the sky and imagine your favorite Artwork!!!”
– Hailey

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Art in the Park 2016: Mid-summer Review

There are two really special aspects of working with young people. The first is the endless creativity and inspiring stories that unfold simply by being witness to their interactions with each other and the world. The second is the time-machine effect it creates; I literally travel back to my inner child and allow myself to be completely silly with them.

In the beginning of July I was wandering through Michaels picking up some random craft supplies. I encountered a very nostalgic friend; the Spirograph!

I picked it up and examined the box. It was exactly the same as I remember it being. This was one of my most favorite things growing up. I put the box back on the shelf and walked away. It was all I could think about as I roamed the other aisles. It was like a magnetic pull; I ended up back in front of the Spirograph kit, just looking at it with a smile on my face. I picked it up again and put it on the shelf again. Nah, I won’t really be using that, besides it’s like $25, way too expensive!

I brought the box to the cashier and like a Divine blessing, she told me I could receive 50% off one item that day; it was destined to be that item. I walked out of the store holding my Spirograph kit happy and proud. It turns out the kids at the park love it too, and we played with the endless designs we could create many times over the month.

The nostalgia of a former, or hidden self, allowed for a smooth flow into the mapping that was to follow. We spent most of July mapping out our dream ‘Utopia’ and what our community needs more or less of in order to achieve what we want our community to look like. We built our own mini-community and dove into exploring the maps of ourselves through body maps.

Take a look at the photos below to see what happened!

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Community Mapping Part 1: The Web – Written ideas of what we want to see more of or less of in our community. Some ideas include: Peace, Dream, Love; More flowers, Math and Dragons!

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Community Mapping Part 2: Our Dream Community – Using a printed map of the Donovan area, participants selected where on the map they currently live and attached a magnified image of what their home, yard or life looks like in their dream community.

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Community Mapping Part 3: Individual Utopia, Collective Community – Each participant designed their own little piece of ‘land’ with our ideal/dream community in mind. Each piece was then put together into our own mini community.

Our mapping continued but now we focused on our bodily experiences through body mapping.

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Body Mapping: Through the process of re-creating ourselves, some beautiful messages reveal themselves – “Shine,” “I love to go outside,” “Be yourself, love yourself,” “Love is powerful.”

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Finally, we all worked together on paper mache cups to hold each our own contribution to the community rock garden to be put on display within our created community.

– Kayla

Art in the Park 2016: June

As summer is drawing to an end, I will tell you of summers beginning… In tune with the fluttering wonder of the beginning of a blooming summer, June was truly a month of exploration. We experimented with a new craft every day. I began to notice the ones who came in regularly and  I began to notice the ones who wanted to create and the ones who wanted to observe.

The following are photos of some of the things we made in June!

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From left: Wooden art for Earth Day Festival; Paper mask-making; Prayer flag

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From left: Prayer flag; Prayer flag; Completed prayer flags hanging on wall

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Above: Hand-bound journals and the beginning of a story, ‘Tittol The Monster’

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I read the above quote from a book called The Bodacious Book of Succulence by Sark to the children. From there, we each decorated one leaf that depicted our dreams and what they provide for us. So we called this one: ‘This is my tree and my leaves are my dreams!’

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From left: ‘My tree gives me shade’, ‘I want to help save pets’; ‘I want to write a book’; ‘My leaf gives me shade’

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From left: ‘Self Portrait’ using collage to describe ourselves; Rainsticks facilitated by placement student, Emily Perrin

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From left: ‘The Bird Book’; ‘The Feel Book’; ‘Four Little Sisters’

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Above: ‘Story Sticks’ – painting and decorating our sticks to represent the story of our lives

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Above: ‘SunCatchers’ facilitated by placement student, Emily Perrin

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Above: Fun with clay and paint!

Art in the Park 2016: Week 2 – May 24th, 25th, 26th

A grand welcoming to the youth of Victory Park! May 24th was the first day I opened the doors to the community to come in and play. I wanted to keep the schedule wide open this week for exploration and to get to know the youth that come through the door. I wanted to welcome the youth in without having any intimidating and intensive activities.

I came into this residency with a strong vision of doing improv with the kids but I quickly realized in only a matter of days that it is not solely my decision in what direction the group flows. An important lesson I am already learning is that facilitator is not dictator. My role is to facilitate a safe and enjoyable space for creative exploration, not a grumpy, cramped space with little flexibility.

This first week; we explored the meaning of art and how it makes us feel. On Tuesday 14 youth came through and we answered the question “What does art mean to you?” collectively on a large sheet of white paper. I offered the participants to use whatever materials they could find to explore their art. The majority settled contently with paper and paint.

On Wednesday, with an attendance of 10, we made a collage with the cut out images we drew. Our drawings were representations of how we felt that day. I chose this activity, because it was a rainy day and I had been feeling quite tired and emotional. It turns out many of the children shared my sentiment. Today, I had the honor of witnessing a lovely interaction between two children. One of them drew a large, crying face next to a computer. He was worried that his older brother hated him, especially after he accidentally broke his computer that morning.

Brushing it off he said, “I don’t care.”
His classmate who was with us also contributing to the collage said, “Yes you do care, Peter!”
He responded, “Maybe there is a very tiny part in my soul that cares.”
She said, “Well, that’s all I need to be happy!”
To which Peter responded, “I don’t make people happy.”
“Yes, you do make people happy!”

“I don’t care!”
“I do.”

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This interaction was such a beautiful and inspiring story of friendship and empathy between humans. What revealed itself most during this week is the amazing power of being witnessed, that almost all the participants agree that, “Art is better when it’s in you,” that we really can do no wrong in art and that art is everything. I struggled momentarily with the need for validation, “Look what I’m doing, do you like it?” but, I am reminded that we all need validation to proceed; not because we think the worth of another is above our own, but as a way of security in knowing that we are on the right path.

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The Victory Park studio will be open every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30-6:30 and Wednesdays from 4-7.

– Kayla

Art in the Park 2016: Week 1 – May 17th, 18th, 19th

Welcome to Myths and Mirrors Community Artist-in-Residence 2016 blog. There has been a delay in my ability to get these blog posts out to the world, due to my lack of functioning computer. These are all stories back-dated to the very beginning of this journey starting in May. Here we go…

The studio space at Victory Park didn’t seem foreign to me, I had after all been to a few events there as a volunteer with Myths and Mirrors. After being offered the position of Artist-in-Residence, it was as if I was walking in for the first time. There is so much stuff; cool stuff, colourful stuff, big stuff and little stuff. I explored the entire space with much greater perception. I opened drawers, peeked behind curtains, pulled out bins and opened them up. I looked in every nook; this space is literally filled to its brim with stuff. In the beginning I made every attempt to create order, to organize and clean, in fact I spent my first three days doing just that. It turns out; I took everything out just to put it back whence it originally came! There was an inspiration that was somewhere between nostalgia and brand new.

I found drawings that had fallen behind the shelves and paintings that were covered in dust or hiding behind other canvases…

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I also found little treasures and sacred bundles that contained precious items.

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Who did all of these things belong to? What should I do with them? These questions spark the journey ahead to discovering the letting go of ownership over our art and the magical containment of the space to hold and keep safe the stories and representations that have accumulated over the years as a means of keeping the creative energy alive.

– Kayla

A Year In Review

Hello and welcome to the (maybe) final post from me on CAiR Space!

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting over the past year. It has been a pretty amazing experience. I went from applying for the job, thinking I was only here to create a program for a future artist in residence. Not only was I a part of that, but I was able to BE the artist in residence with Myths and Mirrors. I was able to be a part of so many wonderful projects this year.

Almost right away I was thrown into revitalizing this mural, which just needed some filling out with galaxies and stars and other spacey goodness! It was my first step at transforming Victory Park.

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Then I got a bit political, and during the Sudbury election re-purposed some of the election signs and invited people to write messages of things they wanted to say to the new council, things they wanted to help transform the Greater City of Sudbury!

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Then we celebrated the winter holidays with our Solstice lantern ceremony and some icy outdoor Christmas bulbs!

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Finally, I started doing workshops at Victory Park. I only had a few kids coming every week, but they were quickly my regulars, and we started making a lot of cool things together!

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Soon March break rolled around (time flies!) and we had a jam-packed week of fun, art-making, story-telling and making new friends! We learned to we’ve, make shadow-puppets, prints, and so much cool stuff! Here I started to become more confident with facilitating a bigger group in art-making.

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As the snow melted, more and more kids started showing up to my workshops. It allowed us to get down to some seriously cool public art. We wanted to bring positive messages to the park. A lot of these rocks ended up walking away, and are no longer in the park, but I saw a few of them displayed on the front steps of homes in the area. Clearly some of the kids took them home to show off, which was really cool!

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Of course I found some time to work on my own artwork as well, which was a huge bonus that I was very thankful for. It has been one of the most inspiring years of my artistic career. I had a booth at Sudbury’s first comic convention, GraphicCon, I created a website for my comic, The Dream Argument and a whole new chapter, I have my artwork up at the Laughing Buddha for my first ever exhibit… plus facilitating art for young people and adults! I couldn’t have been more lucky.

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Then of course, Spring/Summer hit and it’s been a blur ever since! We painted the building at Victory Park (again!), the Splash Pad opened, and there were more kids than ever coming to the twice-weekly workshops! Plus Kazzzam!, the stilt walking and circus arts troupe started up again, which was a lot of fun… to watch, from the safety of the ground.

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Then of course we had the Dance-A-Thon! I don’t know what was more fun, prepping for the Dance-A-Thon or the actual event!

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Then we had Northern Lights Festival Boreal! WOW! What a weekend! We had sooo much going on! Stilt walking, stage painting, film screenings, art-making, sculpture making, flocking, juggling, face painting! The list goes on!

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Then the work at Victory Park began! First with the circle project, in which we painted circles with chalk-board paint so that kids could draw on the fences in the park!

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Then we had the community mural going on behind Cosmic Dave’s! We had people of all ages coming by to contribute their designs and artwork to our ‘Realms of the Earth’ walls! This is going to be a part of a Donovan-based community garden!

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Soon, and we are getting closer now, I was renovating the kitchen to make Victory Park a much more interactive space! The chalk board paint we got went a LONG way! Not only was I able to paint all the cupboards in the kitchen with the stuff but…

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I also painted a bunch of wood panels to put up on the big blue wall on the outside of the building in Victory Park! Now there’s lots of space for kids and young people to draw, and erase, and draw again in the park! How’s that for lots of interactive art space? 🙂

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I’m not quite done yet… I’m going to be helping with the celebration of everything we’ve done this year with our Monster Art Crawl! So if you’d like to see a lot of this stuff IN PERSON and wear a cool or spooky costume, listen to rad music, and possibly win some neat prizes/candy, you should DEFINITELY come meet us at Victory Park (Off Frood rd. in the Donovan!) this Saturday (October 24th!) at 2pm! We will have face painting if you don’t have a costume and then we will follow the monster tracks around the neighbourhood to lead to all of our amazing community arts projects!

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So… I may have another post after the crawl. But looking back at all the amazing things I got to do this year, I know I have a lot more optimism for the future. I’ve seen what art in a community can do, in action. I feel so sad that I won’t get to see the kids in the park weekly anymore, and I know they have been asking all the time if/when the building will be open. I know it gives them pride to see the things they’ve done become a part of the park and other projects in the area, like the mural!

Very often artists feel like they are lone wolves, like they must work alone. But working with other people has been one of the most inspiring, important things I have done with artwork. Community is so important and art really brings people together. I have seen it bring together kids who were total strangers, kids who got along, and kids who didn’t. I’ve seen it allow adults to be kids, and kids to express some more adult ideas. I have seen it bring comfort to people, and bring others out of their comfort zones. It is really one of those things that can break barriers and that is amazing!

I’m not sad. Or at least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself. I am just happy Myths and Mirrors exists, and that more artists will get the opportunity to do what I’ve done! I am happy to have been even a small part of it.

Sudbury is my home and downtown especially will always have a piece of my heart. I really hope more people start seeing that soon. 🙂

CAiR Space, signing off… for the last time?

A New Moon

Hello and welcome to CAiR Space!

FINALLY I have finished the ambitious kitchen renos at Victory Park. Of course you’ve already seen the lovely paint job from last week, but something stood out. Something just didn’t fit anymore (and it’s not me).

The counter.

The old white counter was chipped, broken, warped and just not befitting our bright, new colourful kitchen. The counter top needed more… more shine, more warmth, more ART. And so it began, my adventures in paper bag counter top creation. But first came the destruction of the previous counter!

Next I began with white glue and brown paper, crumpled and placed onto the counter. Already, it looks pretty cool. Almost like stone mosaics!

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But just ‘nice looking’ wasn’t the goal. We needed artwork embedded in our new counter, so of course I got my workshop kids to contribute their doodles to the project!

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Now it’s already looking REALLY rad! But not rad enough yet. To get everything looking nice and even, it was time for some wood stain, which would protect the paper also.

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And now, the final touch! RESIN! A nice glossy, glassy coat that will protect the artwork from plates, food, paint and other things that happen in a community art building’s kitchen.

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So shiny! The result is, needless to say, pretty phenomenal! Wow!

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That is one sweet, artsy kitchen! 🙂 Yay!

I’ve still got a few hours left with Myths and Mirrors, so I’m not done yet! Next up will be our MONSTER ART CRAWL on October 24th from 2pm-8pm starting at Victory Park! Come see all the projects we’ve completed this year! 🙂 It’ll be a blast!

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That’s all for now! CAiR Space signing off!