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Participating artists: Nicole Baxter, Linda Chow, Robin Dupont, Milt Fischbein, Matt Gould, Terry Hildebrand, Brad Keys, Eveline Kolijn, Diane Krys, Darren Petersen, Jean-Claude and Talar Prefontaine, Shona Rae and Simon Wroot.

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Alberta Craft Blog

Tuesday
Oct082019

Spotlight on: Benjamin Oswald

The Alberta Craft Gallery - Calgary is hosting the work of Edmonton ceramist, Benjamin Oswald as part of our monthly Spotlight Series. The pop-up style display provides a unique opportunity to see and invest in the work of accomplished and esteemed Alberta Craft Artists.

Find his work at the Alberta Craft Gallery - Calgary from October 10 to November 2, 2019 (with a special event on October 10)

 

 

 

Benjamin Oswald's career started with sculpture and has moved into the realm of ceramic, often blurring the lines between art, design, anf contemporary craft. Oswald was the winner of Western Living Magazine "One to Watch" in 2018, he is a teacher with the Edmonton Public School Board, and is currently an MFA student at Emily Carr University.

Alberta Craft Council: Hi Benjamin! Who are you and what do you do?

Benjamin Oswald: My name is Benjamin Oswald and I'm a ceramist and sculptor based in Edmonton, AB. My works are primarily made in porcelain that are slipcast, hand thrown or hand built.

ACC: What theme(s) or ideas(s) do you pursue in your work?

Benjamin Oswald: I make art in the blurry intersections between art, design and contemporary craft. Like many ceramists, I consider the vessel as a metaphor for the human condition. I like to consider what's inside and outside a form as well as making arrangements and rhythms of multiple objects in space.

I am inspired by nature with all of its textures and forms and have been using a modernist lens with minimalist aesthetics to think out ideas and observations. In my view, form and shape have greater relevance than function, and I frequently allow the material to guide during making and derive meaning later on.

 

 

ACC: Who taught you your craft? 

Benjamin Oswald: I studied mold making and slip casting with Sasha Wardell in Wiltshire, England. I am also working on my MFA at Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver.

ACC: How has your practice changed over time? 

Benjamin Oswald: I started sculpting in the early '90s influenced by several British modernists and using stone as my medium of choice. I still have over a ton of beautiful white marble at my home studio (which I will revisit sometime in the future). In 2007 I began teaching a ceramics course and decided to switch my practice up and move into ceramics. Much like a traditional potter, I was hand throwing and glazing earthenware bowls and vases. As time past, I began to search out methods to create more contemporary designs, which lead me to porcelain, mold making and slip casting. I soon found I could use units of designed objects to compose abstract shapes, forms and compositions in addition to my series and editions of vessels.

 

 

 

ACC: What is your favorite thing to make?

Benjamin Oswald: For me, the product of work comes second. My primary joy comes from work itself. Not to sound confusing but I'm referring to work as a noun or work as a verb. Work as a verb is where I am happiest.

ACC: What music are you currently listening to in your studio? 

Benjamin Oswald: I usually run streamed playlists of music while in the studio. Lately its classical Baroque, ambient electronic or a miscellaneous Indie playlist. 

 

Visit the Alberta Craft Gallery - Calgary from October 10 to November 2, 2019 to view and purchase the work of Benjamin Oswald. Visit his website to see his complete portfolio

Want to meet the artists? Join us for a fun evening reception on October 10 between 5-8pm at cSPACE King Edward.


Friday
Aug092019

Spotlight on: Salty Sea Dog Designs

The Alberta Craft Gallery - Calgary is hosting the work of Sarah and Blair Dawes from Salty Sea Dog Designs from August 29 to October 5, 2019 (with a special event) as part of our monthly Spotlight Series. The pop-up style display provides a unique opportunity to see and purchase in the work of accomplished and esteemed Alberta Craft Artists.

 

Sarah & Blair are the making hands and creative minds behind one of Calgary's most beloved and whimsical ceramic creations. Their craft enterprise focuses on the creation of functional ceramics, with a twist. We asked them a few questions about their career, what they make, and why. 

Alberta Craft Council: Hi guys! Who are you and what do you do?

Salty Sea Dog Designs: Salty Sea Dog Designs is the collaboration between the husband and wife duo of Blair and Sarah Dawes. Together we hand make quirky and unique pottery. We focus heavily on 3D animal designs with a colourful and whimsical twist. Every piece is either wheel thrown or hand built in our Calgary studio. 

ACC: What theme(s) or ideas(s) do you pursue in your work?

SSDD: Our work is mostly focused around animals we find interesting and unique. People have a wonderful connection to the animal world and we are always looking to create pottery forms that foster that connection. Whether it’s your spirit animal or just your favourite one, we are always working toward creating a unique design to bring that animal to life.

ACC: Who taught you your craft?

SSDD: We both have a BFA with a ceramics major from the Alberta College of Art & Design, now known as AUArts.

 ACC: How has your practice changed over time? 

SSDD: When Salty Sea Dog Designs was first formed, we were creating a lot of pottery using drawn and painted imagery. We slowly started incorporating small 3D design elements to highlight our forms. We realized that these 3D elements were what were most excited to play with and it set us apart from our peers. We decided to take what we were best at and create a whole body of work using hand built 3D forms.

ACC: Your work has a clear theme ...Which is your favorite character to make?

SSDD: We both agree that our favourite thing to make are our monster mugs. Each one has its own personality and it’s a joy to see them come to life. Whether it’s placing horns, wings or a third eyeball and then adding vast amounts of colour, we love seeing how each one of them comes into being.


ACC: What music are you currently listening to in your studio?

SSDD: We often watch streaming services in our studio instead of listening to music. We watch everything from sitcoms, movies and documentaries. If we are ever stuck on what to put on next our go to series that we can always put on are The Inbetweeners, The Office and Time Team. (yes, we added The Office theme song to our Craft Music list on Spotify)

Visit the Alberta Craft Gallery - Calgary from August 29 to October 5, 2019 to meet your new coffee mug companion, created by Sarah & Blair from Salty Sea Dog Designs.

Want to meet the artists? Join us for a fun evening reception on September 12 between 5-8pm. Event link here

Wednesday
Jul242019

Meet the Maker - Robin Dupont

Robin Dupont’s experience in the field of ceramics has been wide-ranging and includes educational training from four institutions, in three different countries and takes great pride in passing all his knowledge on to his students.

 

For the summer issue of Alberta Craft Magazine we had a chat with ceramic artist Robin DuPont about his experience as an educator...after all, it was an issue on education! Read on to know more about Robin DuPont and Meet the Maker. When you are done you can watch this video interview for the 2013 RBC Emerging Artist Award

 

Alberta Craft Council: Is teaching a major part of your creative practice or something you do occasionally?

Robin DuPont: Teaching has been a significant part of my life since completing my master’s degree in 2011. I teach a full semester at Kootenay Studio Arts (KSA) in the fall and often more, teaching workshops abroad and here on my property. I also have an assistant in my studio that is working beside me learning. By articulating ideas out loud to others it forces you to solidify them in some way in your head. I read that Einstein said, “you don’t truly know something until you can teach it”.

ACC: How do you balance your creative practice with teaching?
 

RD: My creative practice is all about learning. Teaching is all about passing that information on. I have been fortunate to have learned from some amazing teachers and, in turn, that makes me passionate about giving back.

I am currently teaching at KSA at Selkirk College in Nelson, BC. Three faculty split the course load. Job sharing allows for time in the studio to continue my own creative practice. This is win-win for both students and faculty as it gives me time to push my own work further.

 

ACC: In what ways do you advise students just starting out, to work smarter?

RD: When you are young it is easy to push yourself, sometimes beyond your limits both physically and mentally. I think it is important to work hard but figure out your limitations and set boundaries. In saying that, it is important to do this in a sustainable way, learning how to care for your body right off the bat is imperative and will pay dividends later in your career.

ACC: Looking back, do you have a teacher who was especially inspiring?

RD: I’ve had many teachers who I think of regularly in the studio and when I am teaching. To name a few: Bob Reimer, John Chalke, Jim Etzkorn, Tom Rohr, Katrina Chaytor, Greg Payce - they
were all generous and inspiring in different ways.

ACC: What is an important event that helped shape your career?

RD: During my first year at ACAD (before I decided to major in ceramics) the visiting artist was Tom Rohr. Tom communicated so many things about clay and ceramics that have ever since been at the core of why I work in clay and make the objects I do.

ACC: What is your favourite handcrafted piece in your home by another artist?

RD: I have many favourite pieces, not really one at all. It’s a little like asking which of my children is my favourite! I’ve been collecting pots for a long time and I have an extensive collection. I love how pots carry so much information and are complex little objects - some are my favourites because of how they function, others remind me of people and places.

 

Robin obtained his BFA from Alberta University of the Arts, Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson, BC, the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, and completed his MFA graduate degree at Utah State University in Logan, Utah.

Follow his atmospheric kiln adventure's on instagram @robindupontceramics

Friday
Jul122019

Trudy Golley - Red Deer College

Trudy Golley received her education in Ceramics at the Alberta College of Art (known today as Alberta University of the Arts) and the University of Calgary (BFA) and the University of Tasmania (MFA) in Hobart, Australia. She enjoys a prominent international career and has been invited to participate in ceramic residencies, lectures, and give workshops in Canada, the USA, Australia, Denmark, China, Scotland, Hong Kong and Malta.

Alberta is lucky to have Trudy and her students get to learn first hand from a woman whose work is represented in numerous public and private collections in Canada, China, Denmark and Australia.

Trudy has taught Ceramics and Visual Fundamentals in the Visual Art Department at RDC since 2000, and as you can imagine, being a respected teacher and artist is no small feat. To learn more, we asked her a simple question: How have you balanced your creative practice with teaching?

Trudy says: "I use the studio at the College to develop my own work outside of my teaching time. This allows me to be both available and to develop a more informal relationship with the students. Throughout all of my teaching positions, I have remained committed to working in the open studio to share my experience with my students in a more relaxed atmosphere. Some of the most meaningful exchanges — those that can’t be recreated in a classroom situation — are shared with students after-hours or on weekends. Often this helps students to reflect on what they are hearing and seeing and assists them to make up their minds about how to proceed with their own work.  As an instructor I encourage students to find their own voice by taking risks and to challenge themselves; to find the pathway that makes sense to them, rather than emulating the work that they see me making. In fact, I feel that I have not succeeded as an instructor if I see a student doing work that looks like mine."

 



She continues, "The students’ exposure to their instructor, making their personal work in the studio means that they get to witness the professional pacing of a project or body of work. Students get to see the successes, as well as the failures, and this gives a more realistic view of what it is to work as a professional artist. Now, in this time of diminishing hand skills, it is even more critical for students to see the commitment and determination that is required to build both mental and physical skill in this lifelong pursuit."

Cultivate | Instigate is about the influential creatives at the forefront of post-secondary craft education in Alberta. The artists in this exhibition balance the dual roles of educator and  professional practicing artist. Acting as torchbearers, they are bridging Alberta’s rich craft legacy with contemporary craft culture.

 Visit the exhibition at the Alberta Craft Gallery - Edmonton until August 31, 2019.

 

Monday
Jul082019

Spotlight on: Mackenzie Kelly-Frère

The Alberta Craft Gallery - Calgary is hosting the work of Mackenzie Kelly-Frère from July 11 to August 24, 2019 as part of our monthly Spotlight Series. The series provides a unique opportunity to see and invest in the work of accomplished/esteemed Alberta Craft Artists.

Mackenzie is an artist, educator, and writer… and you could say he seamlessly weaves all of these roles into one large, spotlight worthy piece of art. 

He is an Associate Professor in the School of Craft & Emerging Media at the Alberta University of the Arts, he contributes texts to various Canadian and international publications, and his work has been exhibited throughout Canada, China, Japan, Korean, and the United States. Lucky for us, he bases his practice out of Calgary and we were able to ask him some questions about who he is and why he creates.

 

Alberta Craft Council (ACC): Who are you, and what do you do?

Mackenzie Kelly-Frère (MKF): I am a descendant of settler culture living in Treaty Seven Territory. I make cloth and teach people to weave and think through textiles. My fascination with the material culture of textiles and passion for cloth's potential as a tool for communication drives my work at the loom and in the studio classroom.

ACC: What theme(s) or ideas(s) do you pursue in your work?

MKF: My work is rooted in material culture and in particular, the social history of cloth. Cloth is an object that embodies care, protection and even the body itself. Increasingly I am interested in how cloth may communicate particular ideas related to the precarity of the human condition. Handwoven cloth provides specific metaphors for entanglement, connection, and contingency that make it the perfect medium to explore complex ideas. I often work in series and these bodies of work are usually thematic, investigating a particular idea. The depth of knowledge embodied by cloth makes it an inexhaustible resource for new ways of thinking and being in the world. This is why I weave.

 

 

ACC: Who taught you your craft?

MKF: I have had many direct and indirect teachers. Bill Morton taught me to pay attention, Katharine Dickerson taught me patience and Sandra Alfoldy taught me there is tangible, irrepressible joy in the story of craft. The weaving of other artists like Jun Tomita, Chiyoko Tanaka has given me something to aim for in my own work. Without exception, however, my best teachers are my students. Each day they renew my own curiosity and love for textiles with their excitement and the deep insight of their beginners' mind.

ACC: How has your practice changed over time?

MKF: I have been weaving for more than twenty years. In that time the themes and ideas in my work have remained fairly constant, but my work has gained considerable refinement, focus and clarity. I am better at the technical details of my craft, but not necessarily as restricted by them. It is exciting to now have enough experience in weaving to engage in something that feels like improvisation. Something that would never have been possible for me ten years ago.

ACC: What is your favourite thing to make?

MKF: Thread, yarn and cordage. Occasionally I have the opportunity and a good reason to create my own threads for a weaving or knitting project. For me, this is probably the most satisfying contemplative aspect of my studio practice.

ACC: What music are you currently listening to in your studio?

MKF: Sometimes my studio is very quiet, particularly during the planning of a series or more complex project. Once this is finished, the music comes on. I am listening to Anohni, Light Fires, Lizzo, FKA Twigs, and Florence & the Machine in the studio right now (listen on Spotify). Much of the time I will play a single song on repeat for hours - better for regular weaving or spinning!

Visit the Alberta Craft Gallery – Calgary from July 11 to August 24, 2019 to see Mackenzie’s work and visit his website to see his complete portfolio.

His work is also part of Cultivate | Instigate, an Alberta Craft Feature Gallery - Edmonton exhibition about the influential cratives at the forefront of post-secondary Craft education in Alberta

Friday
Jun212019

Ruby Sweetman and Trudie Allen - Native Arts & Culture Program

On National Indigenous People's Day, we want to share the work of Trudie Allen and Ruby Sweetman, two artists and instructors of the Native Arts and Culture Program at Portage College in Lac La Biche, Alberta. Their work portrays the Woodland Cree hide tanning process and beadwork and it is currently on display in Cultivate | Instigate. Read on for a full interview with Ruby Sweetman.


 

Ruby Sweetman - Portage College Native Arts and Culture
Instructor and Coordinator

Ruby Sweetman is of mixed Cree ancestry and has been a professional artist and an instructor in the Native Arts and Culture Program for over 20 years. As one of the most experienced instructors of the traditional Woodland Cree hide tanning process, she creates traditional hide tanning art works
representing the past.

 

"Many students contribute to society by passing on many lost art forms."

 
Alberta Craft Council (ACC): Ruby, what is your teaching philosophy and how has it evolved over time?

Ruby: As an Indigenous learner, my thoughts on learning may differ than others, I grew up learning from Elders and their philosophy of look, listen and learn , hard work and a lot of practice to perfect a skill.

My Philosophy has always been similar on many points since I was a student. Now that I have been in the front of a class for twenty five years, I am now more aware of the diversity of learners and their varied abilities in learning. As an Instructor my role is to provide a supportive and encouraging learning environment, accommodate different ways of learning and be committed to the continuous improvement of my knowledge for the benefit of my students’ learning and Culture.

Training students in the Native Cultural Arts Field, is a very rewarding career, not only do the students learn about their culture, they learn to have great pride in who they are as Indigenous and non-indigenous people. Many students contribute to society by passing on many lost art forms.

 

ACC: What are some emerging trends and/or career aspirations you see from your students?

Ruby: I see aspiration and goals from successful students in the field of the Indigenous art world, when they combine their ideas with traditional and contemporary style art. Students have continued and gotten their MFAs in Visual Arts and have success in gallery shows National and Internationally. Some of our students have been recognized with high awards such as the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award, the William and Meredith Saunerson Prize for Emerging Artists in Canada from the Hnatyshyn Foundation, REVEAL award from the Hnatyshyn Foundation, and Sobeys Art Award nominees.

 

 

"I have always believed in higher education in my culture and teaching the old ways of our people in a creative practice that values art and being creative."

 

ACC: How have you balanced your creative practice with teaching?

Ruby: I have always believed in higher education in my culture and teaching the old ways of our people in a creative practice that values art and being creative. I feel the more I can be successful in creating art as an artist not just an Instructor, the better it is for the students to see what can be achieved if they have the right mind set. Creating works of art in my free time is relaxing and helps me keep on top of age old skills of our ancestors. 

---


Trudie Allen - Portage College Native Arts and Culture Program
Instructor

Trudie Allen taught at the Native Arts and Culture Program at Portage College for over twenty years. She began teaching at Portage College in 1997 and retired in 2018. She identifies as Blackfoot and a member of the Blood tribe. Trudie is truly a lifelong maker, she began bead working and sewing at three years of age.

 

Cultivate | Instigate is about the influential creatives at the forefront of post-secondary craft education in Alberta. The artists in this exhibition balance the dual roles of educator and  professional practicing artist. Acting as torchbearers, they are bridging Alberta’s rich craft legacy with contemporary craft culture.

 Visit the exhibition at the Alberta Craft Gallery - Edmonton until August 31, 2019.


Friday
May242019

WHAT'S STOPPING YOU? 9 FAQ'S ABOUT EXHIBITION PROPOSALS 

What you need to know about submitting your work for an exhibition at the Alberta Craft Gallery


Alberta Craft Discovery Gallery

Having worked with many artists over the years (and as artists ourselves), we know first-hand how intimidating and stressful it can be to put together an exhibition proposal for a gallery. To try and make it easy for all artists to submit their ideas we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we get from those wishing to submit their work for exhibition. 

The deadline to submit your proposal for the Discovery Gallery exhibition line-up of 2020 is June 3rd, 2019 9am MST

1.    Do you have to be a member of the Alberta Craft Council to apply?

Yes, you should be a member of the Alberta Craft Council (as should every Alberta artist who is pursuing a career in fine craft and wants to be connected to a great community). Get or renew your Alberta Craft Council membership.

2.    Are CARFAC fees paid for Discovery Exhibitions? 

In 2020 the Alberta Craft Council will be paying a CARFAC fee of $848 for solo Discovery Gallery Exhibitions. The fee is split for group exhibitions.

3.    What if I don’t have all the work created yet? 

For the deadline, we need the proposal to be fully realized. It would be great to have images of the work that will be actually on display but if that is not feasible then include samples of work that is representative of the proposal, along with drawings/sketches of the proposed work and a timeline for creation. Read the call for entry for all the details. 

4.    What is included in promoting the exhibition?  

Each exhibition is featured in the Alberta Craft Magazine (image and article), invitations (both printed and digital), and online promotion (our website, Alberta Craft Member E-News, Alberta Craft What’s In E-newsletter, social media channels), press releases, and postings to many online events and arts listings.  

Based on the theme of the exhibition, the team works with the artist to develop the article for the magazine, which then is used as the base for the rest of the promotional plan.  A few high-quality images are required as well for promotional use. An artist portrait is always appreciated too.   

5.    How big is the Discovery Gallery? 

The Discovery Gallery is located on the main level of the Alberta Craft Gallery – Edmonton.  The total square feet 436 and it has 35 feet of wall space.
 
Other notes about the space: 
-    ceiling height is 10’10”
-    the floor is carpeted
-    windows on the North side are frosted and 8’5” high
-    window ledge is 21” wide and 19” high
-    we have both dry-wall and slatted walls
Giselle Peters "Milk & Oil" 2018 - Alberta Craft Discovery Gallery

6.    What display equipment do you have? 

The Alberta Craft Gallery has many different sizes of plinths as well as plexi covers, risers and shelves available.  All work should show up ready to be hung or displayed.  If your artwork requires unique or specific hardware or display equipment, it should be provided. 

7.    Do I have to set up the show myself? 

No, the Alberta Craft Council exhibition team will take the lead on the set-up.  It is best if you supply details and information on how work is best displayed along with special instructions to help guide our trained staff.  

Alberta Craft Discovery Gallery - "The Art of Hide Tanning" Exhibition opening

8.    Do I have to be in attendance for the opening reception?  

It is best if the artist is in attendance for the reception, this does not have to occur on the opening day of the show.  We can organize a different Saturday or possibly an evening event. We can host a reception with light snacks and beverages as well as an artist talk and/or an interactive demonstration. 

9.    Will my exhibition be hosted in the Calgary location?

Our Calgary Gallery hosts a selection of both Alberta Craft Discovery and Feature exhibitions. We strive for a diverse cross-section of exhibitions. Our selection criteria include but is not limited to fine craft media, contemporary to heritage fine craft, emerging to established makers, as well as artist locations to make sure we represent the best in fine craft across Alberta and Canada.

Missed something? We want to make sure you submit the best proposal you can, if we still haven't answered all your question feel free to contact Joanne, Exhibition Lead at joanne@albertacraft.ab.ca | 780-488-6611 ext.234