Talk to any musician, actor, or performance artist in Edmonton and they’ll tell you that 2015 has not been kind when it comes to spaces for creative work in the city. The Artery, Wunderbar, the Pawn Shop, the Roxy—all lost within the past year, leaving artists with few opportunities for places to share their work.
But it’s not only performers who have been suffering from a lack of space; Do It Yourself: Collectivity and Collaboration in Edmonton seeks to celebrate the visual artists who have worked together to carve out some hard-won studio spaces. For the next three months, the University of Alberta’s Enterprise Square gallery will host some of their works, inviting viewers to learn about the grassroots artistic production going on in their city.
“I think it’s important to show the dedication and the evolution of how people are working together and creating these micro-communities to practice,” curator Kristy Trinier says. “Most people, when they think of DIY culture in Edmonton, there’s definitely a reference [to] and a lot of legacy in the music community of shared collaboration, shared resources, rehearsal spaces and things like that, where people are sharing their basements or garages to make things happen. But in visual arts the same things have happened, but those spaces seem to have a bit more of a devastating effect when they’re lost. And so I wanted to point to the need for those spaces, and [ask], how do we protect them? How do we foster them and recognize the work of the people who are initiating them without a lot of support? They’re not receiving grants to run their spaces. They’re doing this independently. They’re just renting a space and hoping that their friends and colleagues will rent and help them keep it afloat.”
The exhibition features the works of 20 artists who hail from 11 of these shared studio spaces or artistic collectives across the city. Their work ranges from the experimental performance artwork of Kristine Nutting to the urban landscape photography of Zach Ayotte’s Still in Edmonton project. Despite the differences, the pieces all share an organic, unrefined esthetic.
“They might not look fully resolved but that’s part of their esthetic and part of their comment on the economic reality,” Trinier explains. “And that’s something definitely that’s part of the DIY style, is to show things that aren’t overly finished—to show the process, and to have that raw energy of just making something come through the work.”
Trinier notes that maker culture is proliferating in Edmonton, with the opening of the EPL’s Makerspace in the Stanley A Milner Library. She hopes that the exhibit will not only allow artists to form vital new friendships and collaborative relationships, but also encourage viewers to get involved. With an innovative exhibit concept, you can legitimately do it yourself.
“It’s a small gesture, but instead of only presenting traditional artwork labels, each of the artists who are participating in the Do It Yourself exhibition has written an instruction or a how-to manual. And we made those on tearaway pads, so you can walk through the exhibition and tear away an instruction from each of the groups.”
Until Thu, Mar 31