Artist: Luke Despatie
2021 Artist-in-Residence Pilot Program: Environment
Critical Mass: A Centre for Contemporary Art is honoured to have welcomed artists Susan Campbell, Mast Year Collective (Alexandra Hong & Farihah Aliyah Shah), Brian Hoad, and Lucas Morneau to Port Hope to Pilot our 2021 Artist-in-Residence Program! This pilot project was made possible with funding from Ontario Trillium Foundation and with support from the Municipality of Port Hope.
With the pandemic timed not-so-perfectly with the launch of the pilot program, we took some time to work with our artists and adapted the pilot program to offer some mini virtual community engagements, until it was safe to host the artists in person. Due to travel restrictions and a year’s delay, not all artists were able to return for in-person residencies.
In August 2020, and June through September 2021, 5 in-person artist residencies took place in our historic mid-1850s former little train station in downtown Port Hope. All community engagement activities adhered to the ongoing safe gathering limits and health & safety protocols.
During their residencies with Critical Mass, artists explored the curatorial theme of environment through the lens of their individual art practices. This ranged from the exploration of land ownership and old fields, to the cultural environment of sports, to the environment of texts, language, and whose voice matters; to printmaking with the natural environment, and even discussions about recipes, shared meals and people’s connections between food and a particular environment.
The artists’ engaged with residents and visitors of Port Hope, to creatively animate or add significance to public spaces, and promote an appreciation of contemporary art practices. While the artists had time and space to develop their art practice, and explore new ideas or techniques, the artists in residence also connected more people in Port Hope to arts & culture experiences and engaged them in broader discussions of environment.
What did those connections look like? 835 community members participated in 16 shared online and covid-safe workshop and arts experiences; 3 artists hosted interviews with 42 community members in both rural and urban Port Hope to inform their research; the community had access to 33 open studio days to connect with artists; 6 artist talks were given (2 online and 4 in person); 1 live musical drawing performance delighted; and 2 temporary art installations remained in the community after the artists’ residencies.
Meet our 2021 Pilot Artists in Residence!
Susan Campbell – June 2021
During her residency, Susan Campbell mapped the evolving cultural palimpsest of what our community values and preserves. She showed us that how we talk to one another through messages, notes, posters, and official signs can be mapped from our environment.
Mast Year Collective – July 2021
During their residency, Mast Year Collective explored how food – from making, to sharing, to eating – is entwined and grounded in our physical environments both past and present.Read more
Brian Hoad – August 2021
During his residency, Brian Hoad explored personal narratives from his time coming-of-age in Port Hope, considering themes of memory, nostalgia, and an interest in how people connect with their environment, both now and throughout history.Read more
Lucas Morneau – September 2021
During their residency, Lucas Morneau explored the cultural environment in sports (hockey in particular). His project aimed to reclaim the racially charged and homophobic pejoratives often used to attack a player’s “manliness”.Read more
Let’s also look back on our 2020 Artists in Residence! The OGs.
Jay Dart - August 2020
For his residency project, Jay interviewed Port Hope farm families, and documented Northumberland’s old fields in the form of photos and field sketches. He then created a mixed media presentation incorporating drawing and audio from his interviews, and beautifully captured the tender times of pandemic life and ‘distance existence’. While in Port Hope he also made with the community, the longest exquisite landscape sidewalk drawing ever!Read more
Cécile Hug - September 2020
From her home in Paris, France, Cécile encouraged Port Hope residents to take note of their environment, harvest each item with care. She taught us how to gather, and compose our own Herbariums, and showed us how to build a sweet little wax dipped replica of the Little Station.Read more
Schuyler Dawson - November 2020
For his residency, Schuyler planned to cast the hands of Port Hope residents and place them around the town to highlight the lasting effect we leave in our communities. He gave us a virtual demo of his mold-making technique, from his home in California.Watch demo here
David Jacob Harder - December 2020
Before the pandemic, Harder planned to create a series of temporary text-based and site-specific sculptures in Port Hope that explore signage, marketing, and how a single word inserted into the landscape can totally change the mood of a place. From his home in BC, he took us on a live installation as he used the letters from a Canadian Tire store facade, to make public art interventions in unexpected public spaces.Read more
A few images from the 2021 residency season. Check our socials for more photos and to revisit those summer and fall vibes.
This pilot artist residency project has been funded by an Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed Grant, supported by community grant from the Municipality of Port Hope, and made possible with the support of the ACO Port Hope who allow us to animate their 1850s former little train station with contemporary art experiences.