|Back to Home||Feature Article - September 15, 2011|
Fieldwork: New Canadians work with local artistsby Julie Druker
Photo: Artist Karina Bergmans' new installation at feildwork
An assortment of local and new immigrant artists to Canada originating from four of the five continents gathered in the fall fields just east of Maberly at the site of fieldwork, the outdoor art installation art site begun by a four-member collective, Chris Osler, Chris Grosset, Erin Robertson, and Susie Osler in 2008.
Two back to back special events took place simultaneously on September 11. The first was a workshop titled “Rooting Through Creation” where the fieldwork collective in partnership with the Coalition of New Canadians for Arts and Culture (CNCAC) worked on a sculpture making project whose aim was to encourage creativity, networking and to facilitate a dialogue for new artists adapting to a new life in a new land.
A total of 15 artists participated and they included new Canadian artists from Russia, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, and Burkina Faso, Africa, as well as local artists from the surrounding area.
Chris Osler works as a community developer at Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (CISO), which founded the CNCAC, and said the project was designed to engage immigrant artists in Ottawa with the rural arts base. “One of our aims was to expose new artists from around the world to the knowledge of this place and to other local area artists. The concept of the workshop ‘Rooting through Creation’ in particular was to give these artists a chance to address the issues of adjusting to life in Canada and their struggle to define their new life here as artists, how they are connected, and how they go about putting down new roots.”
Though it was a coincidence, the fact that the workshop took place on the 10-year anniversary of the events of September 11 was also touched on by the group during their discussions. “The work being done here will also shed light on the fact that many of these artists have also come from very difficult circumstances from which they can hopefully move beyond.” Chris added.
For the workshop, the 15 participating artists were broken into groups. Each group was provided with an assortment of natural materials, a few tools and an outdoor space, and then set to work discussing, designing and finally constructing a sculpture. “The project gives us each a way of creating and sharing our diverse cultural backgrounds”, facilitator Chikonzero Chazunguza of Zimbabwe explained. “We all come here as artists with deep seated memories and nostalgia of our own cultures without which we can feel uprooted. So this project is a way for each of us to re-root ourselves through creativity in this country and in this new culture.'” At the end of the day, three very different sculptures emerged, each of which will be on site to viewers in the upcoming months. They included a woven ship named the Voyager, signifying a voyage to a new land; the second, a tree of life, symbolizing hope, unity and regrowth, and the third, an altar-like piece with two clay-faced figures at its centre looking towards a tiny young pine tree representing the new hope of things to come.
Gloria, a participating artist from Watsons Corners said, “The workshop was incredibly enriching and it provided a real sense of community and a great opportunity to connect with these new artists to Canada.” Maria Gomez Umana, a coordinator at CNCAC, was equally pleased with the outcomes. “We have created three beautiful sculptures in a very positive and inspiring environment and people really had a great time working together.”
The second event of the day was the official opening of the new fieldwork installation by Ottawa-based textile artist Karina Bergmans. Titled “OH, AHH, WOW” the installation is her largest work to date and recalls recent similar work of hers that has been making its way around Ottawa, which she calls “Texting”. Bergmans’ fieldwork project is a further development of her goals as an artist both to “redirect the original purpose of material and recontextualize it using themes based on collective experiences of language, communication, text and word play” and she explained how this project continues her exploration of these ideas. “This fieldwork project is parallel to what I have been doing recently, but different that in that I'm making something for the outdoor environment. I also wanted to make particular words that make sense when viewing them from both sides.” To do so Bergmans created three 10’x10’ stand alone words, with letters made from tarps stuffed with hay. Her main objective? “I wanted to elicit excitement, energy and happiness in a field like this that will give positive energy to people who see it even if they are just driving by.” Bergmans’ installation will be up for viewers to enjoy until April.
For more information visit www.fieldworkproject.com