This String of Moments

I’ve been thinking a good bit over the last few months about self-care, and in particular the need for conscious self-care on the part of artists.

In part these thoughts come from my own understanding of what I need – starting with saying ‘no’ more often – and honouring the fact that I need LOTS of recharge time on my own to be good to and for others and for the community I wish to support and serve. That means fewer opportunities sometimes – which has its own sort of stress. But for me right now, that’s necessary. These thoughts also stem from many conversations (truth to tell, too many) with other artists over the last couple of years about the reality of their lives, and about exhaustion and burnout.

How incredibly focussed and dedicated my colleagues are – and how tired. Juggling jobs (two? three? more???) some of them, to keep head above water in a gig economy. OR, finally landing “THE job” – the one that pays enough to forego the side gigs – just to see time and energy eaten week after week by the needs and demands of the work at hand, because there aren’t enough hands to do the work, or hours in the day … and they are responsible people, who care about their colleagues and the work they do.

And these bright, talented people ask themselves (and have admitted to me): “I wonder if I am still an artist? Can I even call myself that anymore?

That’s a hard thing to hear, especially given that it’s evident how much talent they have and how much they have to offer the world and their community, on all kinds of levels.

SO – why on earth am I talking about this, and interspersing these observations with pictures of autumn leaves, and glancing sunlight, and panorama photos of coastlines and sky?

Because I have the privilege of being able to take some time for myself just now; I have joked that I have “run away” temporarily … but I haven’t really. Not at all.

If anything, I have gone away to be more totally present. I had the opportunity to get away from my home city and all that is familiar, and to spend some time in another part of the country. I jumped at it. I knew I needed the break very badly, and was (and continue to be) incredibly grateful for the good fortune that has allowed me to do this.

To just be for a little while.

To figure a little bit more out – what next, why, what are the limits, how far and hard to push, and in what direction.

What is healthy (for me) … what is healthy for each of us? It can’t be the grind that I see so many people inside, in all walks of life. Is it any wonder so many of us are angry? Sad? Feeling desperate?

Do I have the solutions or answers or tools to help? I have no idea. But I do know that not having the opportunity to just STOP for a little bit, every so often, absolutely precludes the opportunity to consider these questions – and to seek the answers that are right for oneself.

May the world shift in favour of more humane ways of being for all of us.

Tomorrow is another day, and perhaps it will be a good one, for more of us.

Off Again …

Just about to leave for Vancouver for the CARFAC National Conference and AGM!

Looking forward to seeing my colleagues from right across the country, and sharing ideas and practical tools to assist artists.

I am particularly happy that there will be a panel on Indigenous Intellectual & Cultural Property Rights. This is an area of artists’ rights I need and want to learn more about!

I am also really excited to hear updates on two different projects to help artists protect their copyright and earn more for their creative work:

The Prescient Blockchain Project, and the Image Bank and Licensing Platform from Copyright Visual Arts!

It’s going to be a busy few days … but it’s going to be really informative and fun too!

Some thoughts on leaving and coming back

I am preparing to fly West this afternoon, after a busy and very productive several months in various spots in Nova Scotia. A great residency with Scott Smallwood, and new work launched in Parrsboro, at Main & Station. The start of some new and exciting collaborations with Deborah Carruthers and with Susan Tooke.  Time to experiment with cyanotype processes, work on video and audio projects.  Time to hike, to make photographs, to think, to further the long-term process of healing my body (thank you Acupuncture and Massage Therapy!)

It feels like much more time has passed since I was last on ‘home turf’ – or rather, that the tempo and scale of time as I experience it has shifted in a fundamental way – and now I have to find my way back to something more familiar. Not quite there – and I think that’s a very good thing. VERY.

It was a good place and time to be reminded of the diverse (and often very difficult, painful) histories of any given place. How easy it is not to see that – how easy to get lost in the vast beauty of the place – any place – and look but not see. The beauty is part of those histories; it’s woven into the different scales of time inherent in that locale to be sure. Geologic time. Tidal Time. Seasonal Time. Mythic time. Colonial Time (a very slippery fish, this one). Settlement Time. Expulsion Time. Industrial Time. And on and  on … but make no mistake, there’s nothing linear about this.

The ‘present’ as we fashion it in any given moment is its own rabbit hole; a crucial vantage point (and obviously the only one available in a pragmatic sense), but it’s also a very troubled and troubling place from which to assess the relative value of most things and actions and ideas … . The popular narratives that tend to overwhelm all other chatter are still those that yoke the present to doing cartwheels toward the ‘somehow-better-future’. Because, of course  ‘things’ will be ‘improved.’ This is the wish, the hope, and the outcome to be willed into being, somehow.

And under it all, the land remains—a page upon which this story is “written, erased, rewritten,” as author Teju Cole put it. Only memory and history can interrupt this cycle of revision we commonly refer to as progress. And those interruptions are vital, absolutely necessary, if we are to navigate some way toward a better way of existence for ourselves (on all levels), and co-existence with all beings.

Remains to be seen how well I am able to carry these glimmers of understanding forward as I return to the familiar places and routines – but the intent (and hope) is there.  Patience, process, compassion.

Tomorrow!

The CARFAC National Conference and AGM is tomorrow – Saturday, June 3rd!

It’s going to be a good weekend, and it’s exciting to know that here will be visual artists from all over the country here this weekend, discussing issues  and advocacy initiatives pertinent to artists’ careers.

There’s also going to be programming Saturday Evening and Sunday afternoon – so it’s not ‘all work and no play.’

I’m looking forward very much to hearing from other parts of the country, and to reconnecting with artists I haven’t seen for far too long.

Information below – there’s still time to register and join us:

Building your career - Batir votre carrière conference poster final-1Building your career 2- Batir votre carrière conference poster final-2

Bursaries for Artists!

The CARFAC National Conference is coming up soon in Edmonton!

Visual Arts Alberta – CARFAC wants to help artists attend, so they are offering bursaries to help with conference costs:

Visual Arts Alberta – CARFAC is offering up to six bursaries of $200.00 each to Visual Arts Alberta – CARFAC members living outside of the Greater Edmonton area who will be attending the CARFAC National Conference in Edmonton on the weekend of June 2nd to 4th.

These bursaries are based on need.

Applicants need to write an up-to-one page letter describing why a bursary would help. Applications must be in by Thursday May 18th  at 4:00pm. Send the letter to chris@visualartsalberta.com.

They will notify the winners by Saturday, May 20th at 4:00pm.

PLEASE pass this on to any visual artists who may want to attend, but would find the costs of travel a hinderance.

Deadline approaching … a Call of Submissions

I posted about this a while ago – but I know how busy everyone is, so I thought it might be a good idea to post again, before the deadline is upon us all.

Visual Arts Alberta – CARFAC is partnering with Latitude 53 Contemporary Visual Culture to present an art-and-activism themed exhibition in June 2017.

This exhibition will coincide with the CARFAC National Conference, which we are hosting in Edmonton this year, on June 3rd.

The goal is to present Alberta – Based Artists who address political issues/advocacy/representation of under-represented voices.

Here’s an image of the Call (and a PDF).

Feel free to pass on to any Alberta Visual Artists that you feel would be interested!

Get the PDF HERE:  Call-for-Submissions-Trumpet