2014 Archive

The Summer Institute is an international post-graduate artist residency for professional artists working in all disciplines and media. The 2014 edition of Plug In ICA’s Summer Institute invites participants who wish to work independently or collaboratively, based upon their own interests and projects. There will also be opportunities to work in a collaborative peer-to-peer environment through group activities, planned during the session. A number of guest artists, curators and theorists will visit the Summer Institute for lectures and studio visits. One of the questions posed by the Summer Institute 2014 will be how do feminists describe their work and how do we use feminist-informed language to describe politicized art? Through readings, critique and hands-on creation, participants will have the opportunity to consider a broad range of practices, language and strategies that could be called “feminist,” and that contribute to anti-oppression politics.

Faculty: 

Deirdre Logue and Allyson Mitchell are artists and co-founders of FAG (Feminist Art Gallery). Operating out of the couple’s converted garage in Toronto, Logue and Mitchell have aligned development and artistic goals in order to operate FAG on its own terms. Their alternative funding system resists the reliance on government or corporate cash, favoring instead a network of feminist community contributors. FAG’s micro-funding program, DAG, has supported a variety of art projects, among them Les Blues, a group dedicated to increasing the visibility and histories of queer people of colour. NAG, their angry letter writing campaign, took the Toronto International Film Festival to task for their racist and misogynist list of “100 essential filmmakers of all time.” Recent exhibitions include the presentation of art porn hybrid Community Action Center by AL Steiner and AK Burns and a focus on the UK based Cinenova collection as animated by eight local activists and artists.

FAG is committed to the cultivation of a new kind of sisterhood that isn’t based on gender and privilege and a new kind of brotherhood that isn’t based on rape and pillage. FAG is feminist in its resistance and in its attempts to reconcile “arts” participation in oppressive systems. FAG is feminist in its insistence on closing the gap between studio, gallery, art, activism, social and home. FAG is not fixed. FAG is not success. 

As well as operating this truly alternative arts space, Deirdre Logue is currently the Development Director at Vtape and Allyson Mitchell works as Associate Professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. Both have prolific international art practices.  

Participants: 

Angel Chen is a Taiwanese-Canadian interdisciplinary artist. Her work involves social engagement, installation, and design. With a background in philosophy, she explores frameworks of socializing and communicating – focusing on the importance of diverse interpersonal relationships and particularly their function in sociopolitical change. Her work often involves reinventing or altering familiar social forms and public structures in order to create new dialogues. She has facilitated letter-writing socials worldwide (in cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Copenhagen), telephone conversations between strangers (Toronto), and a variety of public installaitons, such as mini-gardens on Toronto bike stands, a zine stand on Pender Island, BC, and a temporary portal for handwritten notes at a social-practice conference in Portland, OR. Her most recent project uses the social form of dining to engage citizens in conversations about the future of suburban cities (Markham, ON). She is present in each of her projects, to different degrees: as a documentarian or to encourage engagement, instigate new conversations, and respond to new directions taken on by participanra. Chen splits her time between Taipei and Toronto.

The Ephemerals is a collective of Winnipeg artists and curators who have been working together since 2010. Collective members Jaimie Isaac, Niki Little, and Jenny Western aim to investigate and interrogate perceptions of Indigenous identity through aspects of material culture, particularly those involving clothing and fashion. These three Aboriginal women established The Ephemerals collective to function as an outlet to foster and motivate artistic production within their individual practices as well as to engage collaborative projects that revolve around issues of Indigenous contemporary art. Drawing inspiration from their multidisciplinary artistic practices and diverse cultural backgrounds, the collective’s projects are fueled by collaborative pranks, formal interventions, and bizarre affairs meant to push back the supposed boundaries of Indigeneity. The Ephemerals do not exhibit a specific aesthetic but espouse something more transformative and fleeting based on the collective’s interest and the spirit of the times.

The Ephemerals:

Jaimie Isaac is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, is of Ojibwe and British heritage and member of the Sagkeenk First Nation. She is a freelance writer, curator, artist and art administrator. Isaac holds a degree in Art History and an Arts and Cultural Management Certificate from the University of Winnipeg. Currently she’s completing graduate studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan with a focus on the agency and aesthetic of Indigenous Curatorial Praxis, projected to graduate Spring 2014. Isaac has held positions as Communications Coordinator for the Aboriginal Peoples Teelvsion Network and as the Aboriginal Programs and Outreach Manager for the Arts and Cultural Industries and has since been involved with arts education, collection management, arts research, boards, and juries across Canada. Jaimie has taken part in two mentorships with senior curators, Cathy Mattes and Amy Karlinski. She has received grants and awards both for education and art projects. Some independent projects include: visual arts coordination for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s national event in Winnipeg (2010); a Linus Woods solo show at ace art inc. (2010); trio-founded The Ephemerals which produced Trending exhibition at the University of Winnipeg and a film, Indian Maiden  (2011); curating Leah Decter’s (official denial) trade value in progress that has exhibited nationally (2011-presently). Jaimie has contributed essays in exhibition catalogues for Close Encounters: The Nexy 500 Years/Plug In ICA, unsacred/University of Winnipeg, and peer-reviewed journal, the West Coast Line. She has presented at conferences at Princeton University in New Jersey, the University of British Columbia, Thompson Rivers University, Algoma University and the Royal Holloway University of London. Jaimie was recently an artist in residency called Art and Reconciliation in Kamloops funded by CICAC and SSHRC. She is currently secretary on the board with the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective/CCA. Her artwork and research revolves around reconciliation, Indigenous feminism, Indegenous identity, representation, resistance discourses and decolonization.

Niki Little is an emerging artist/observer and arts administrator whose works extends from writing, curating, arts coordination and engaging in transient artistic experiences. She is interested in artistic and curatorial strategies that investigations of art consumerism, gender, culture and cultural Diaspora with a hint of youth-inspired ambivalence along the way. She has worked at Urban Shaman Inc. after returning to Winnipeg via Montreal and Banff wherein she participated as a Studio Assistant for Algonquin artist Nadia Myre and Visual Arts Administrative Work-Study at the Banff Centre for the Arts. She studied at the University of Manitoba, the National Screen Institute, and the Camberwell College of Art, London, UK, and completed the Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA) mentorship program. As an arts administrator, Little is interested in developing community based opportunities for youth can participate in a range of artistic disciplines, engage with and learn from both local and international artists and provide youth with ample opportunity to explore theoretical and practical arts and culturally based experiences.

Jenny Western is a curator, writer, and educator based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She holds an undergraduate degree in History from the University of Winnipeg and a Masters in Art History and Curatorial Practice from York University in Toronto. One of Jenny’s most recent projects includes co-curating “Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years”, a multi-venue group exhibition of contemporary Indigenous art from around the globe.  

Shannon Gerard

The short version of my bio could just read: “Shannon Gerard. Dork, dreamer, Discerning Bibliophile.” But here’s the longer story: My work spans a variety of media. I write and draw books, crochet (a lot), make prints, and produce large-scale installations incorporating stop-motion animation and wheat paste. As a professional mischief-maker, my work with public/pedagogical projects such as The Carl Wagan Bookmobile and Mountain School Bookhouse emphasizes the materials and ethos of independent publishing as social-political engagements. I am a principal collaborator at The Book Bakery (Publication Studio Toronto) and an Assistant Professor in Publications and Print Media at OCAD University.

Most of my work employs play to investigate interests such as:

The mindset of the collector

The sculptural and perfomative possibilities suggested by books and book-objects

The conceptual space that books occupy beyond the presentation of texts and images.

How the social position of works (in other words, where we tend to encounter particular modes of art) mediates how we become engaged as readers/viewers.

Girl Gang Dance Party is the banner for the collaborative work performed/created/installed by Lindsay Joy and Melinda topilko. Lindsay and Melinda met as undergrads at the Alberta College of Art + Design. As fibre majors, both were drawn to the implicit and explicit feminist history of the materials and techniques they studied. A similar sensitivity and appreciation for materials, as well as the commitment to research as an integral part of their artistic practices, led to the pair forming a close working/artistic/collegial relationship. Near constant discussions about their own and other artistic practices that incorporate critical discussion of work, theory, and cute dog pictures on Tumblr is a practice they continue daily, despite their difference In locales. Lindsay is currently completing her MFA at the University of Manitoba, and Melinda is working on a second iteration of the Fuck Yeah, I’m a Feminist exhibition and catalogue. 

Maritime-born artist, Lisa Lipton (a.k.a. FRANKIE) is a multidisciplinary visual artist, musician and director who received her B. F. A. from NSCAD University in 2003, and M. F. A. from the University of Windsor. Her work exemplifies a diversity of interest within the arts as she explores the potential for crossing genres of film, mixed media installation, performance, theatre and music. Her visions are reflective of an interest in directorial and curatorial practices, collaboration and social interaction, as well as working within non-traditional contexts in order to explore the boundaries of performance and filmic production. She has currently completed a major tour throughout North America with her latest drumming project – BLAST BEATS: Phase Three, which will culminate in her first feature film – THE IMPOSSIBLE BLUE ROSE. She has exhibited her work on both a national and international level, and most recently served as one of the long list representatives for the Maritime Provinces with the Sobey Art Awards (2012 & 2013).

Ming Hon’s work has shown both locally and internationally, including at the Taipei Artist’s Village in Taiwan, as part of the National Art Gallery’s Prairie Scene events in Ottawa, Surrey Art Gallery in B. C., and at Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg. She regularly collaborates as a performer/collaborator on projects with visual artists. She has worked with such acclaimed artists; Sarah Anne Johnson (WPG/NY), Rebecca Belmore (VAN), Rober Racine (MTL), Howie Shia (TO), and Shezad Dawood (LDN). As a dancer she has been invited to participate twice at Ted Robinson’s Exclusive Intensive (QC) La B. A. R. N., has been a participant at Interrarium at The Banff Centre, has danced and collaborated with many of Winnipeg’s established choreographers, and has received numerous dance creation/research grants and scholarships. Ming was awarded the ‘On the Rise’ arts award from Winnipeg Arts Council, and also received a Canada Council grant to attend Impulstanz (VIE) and Tanz im August (Berlin). Her practice has developed to include dance video installation work. ‘Cleaver Relic’ which is currently on national tour with the ‘(Da Bao)(Take out)’ exhibition, and ‘Inside the exhibitionist’ presented last May at the Gas Station Arts Centre for the School of Contemporary Dancers 40th anniversary gala. This fall she is looking forward to researching group choreography on Winnipeg ‘s Contemporary Dancers’ company with Davida Monk as a choreographic mentor, as well Brent Lott (Artistic Director to WCD) has commissioned Ming to create a new group work for the 2014/2015 season as the touring component of the Prairie Dance Circuit Series. Most recently she has been selected as 1 of 5 feature artists at aceartinc. gallery in Winnipeg, to produce a solo show in spring of 2015. 

Lois Klassen’s artworks and writings are situated in local communities, while engaging in global concerns. She uses art processes like textiles, performance, curation, video, bookarts, and archiving to consider social relations. She is based in Vancouver, Canada. Klassen’s art installations, performance artworks, community events, and media works have been hosted by public galleries (VIVO Media Arts Centre in Vancouver; Charles H. Scott Gallery in Vancouver; HubM3 in Greater Manchester, UK; Richmond Art Gallery in Richmond, BC; Western Front in Vancouver; Centre A in Vancouver; aceartinc. in Winnipeg; Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba in Brandon), museums (The Glenbow Museum in Calgary; Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, BC), residencies (SOMA Summer in Mexico City; MOP Community Garden in Vancouver; Banff New Media Institute; The Hammock Residency in Vancouver), festivals (Family Fuse at Vancouver Art Gallery, Stone Soup Festival, Transportale Berlin) and more. Her texts have appeared in Public journal, Whitehot magazine, Textile Society of America Conference, University Art Association Conference, Filip (forthcoming) and blogs (LIVE International Performance Art, loiszing.blogs.com). Her curation projects have appeared at VIVO Media Arts Centre and World Peace Forum. Lois Klassen is a past Board Director and President of VIVO Media Arts Centre in Vancouver, Canada. She is educated in occupational therapy (BMR, University of Manitoba, 1985), art history (DipAH, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 2008), textile art (Capilano College, 2009) and visual art (MAA, Emily Carr University, 2011). She is currently the part-time coordinator for the Emily Carr University Research Ethics Board.

Andrea Roberts is a Canadian artist based in Oakland whose work primarily takes the shape of sculpture and sound. She has recently shown at Whitdel Arts in Detroit, the CT International Print Biennale in Havana and Film Pop, Montreal. In 2013 Roberts received a Murphy and Cadogan Contemporary Art Award in San Francisco and the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Award. A founding member of the Winnipeg artist collective ngtvspc, Roberts has also performed with the noise project Hoover Death and toured and released records with the feminist punk bands Kursk and Wolbachia. Roberts studied film at Simon Fraser University, received a BFA Hons in sculpture from the University of Manitoba in 2011 and is currently an MFA Candidate in sculpture at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

Gurpreet Sehra was born and brought up in the Greater Toronto Area. She is an artist working primarily in paint, performance and video. She has completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree and Diploma Program in Art and Art History and Sociology from the University of Toronto and Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. She recently completed her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Manitoba. In her current body of work she is concerned with questioning the construction of her identity, which is closely tied with questioning the construction of Sikh-Punjabi masculinity and femininity in the Canadian diaspora.

Ariel Smith (1983) is a filmmaker, video artist and cultural worker based in Ottawa, Ontario. Having created independent media art for over a decade, much of her work has shown at festivals and galleries across Canada and internationally including: Images (Toronto, Ontario), Mix Experimental Film Festival (NYC), and Boston GLBT Film Festival (Boston, MA). She has shown in galleries such as WARC Gallery (Toronto, Ontario), Galerie SAW Gallery (Ottawa, ON), MAI (Montreal, Quebec), Gallery Sans Nom (Moncton, NB), and Cold Creation Gallery (Barcelona, Spain). Her film Saviour Complex (2008) was nominated for Best Experimental at the 2008 Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival (Winnipeg, MB). Ariel’s video Swallow (2002) was the winner of the Cynthia Licker Sage Award for emerging talent at the 2004 ImagineNative Film Festival, and the Jury Third prize at the 2003 Media City Festival of Experimental Film and Video. Ariel is largely self-taught, but honed many of her skills by becoming heavily involved in artist-run centers and film and video cooperatives in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Her passion for artist-run culture has become an integral part of her practice. She has worked with SAW Video Media Arts Centre since 2006 and recently became Executive Director for the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (NIMAC).