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Public Art and Social Practice Workshop Series

As part of its commitment to provide a variety of opportunities for artists, The City of Calgary Public Art Program, in collaboration with Illingworth Kerr Gallery (IKG), is offering a Public Art and Social Practice workshop series. Internationally renowned artists Alfredo Jaar, Tania Bruguera and Jeanne van Heeswijk will each present a free public lecture and lead a weekend workshop for a selected group of Calgary artists. This workshop series is intended for local artists and results in an exhibition at the IKG and an opportunity for a public art commission.

The five artists selected through a competitive process to participate in this program were Dick Averns, Alana Bartol, Kevin Jesuino, Taryn Kneteman and anne drew potter.

Artists photograph
From left to right: Taryn Kneteman, Kevin Jesuino, Dick Averns, Alana Bartol, anne drew potter, Dawn VandeSchoot, and Alfredo Jaar.

This workshop series is designed to provide professional development for artists interested in pursuing public art projects with a social practice focus and is intended for professional artists wishing to:

  • Explore and develop a socially engaged practice with a distinct focus on public art.
  • Understand the opportunities and the challenges that this type of practice entails.
  • Discover the breadth of possibilities that public art and social practice offers.

To complete the series, artists will design a project proposal that involves a community partner in the development and/or implementation of the project in some way. The proposals will then be exhibited at IKG for juried competition. Through the workshops, lectures and group discussions participants will be mentored by world renowned artists practising in the field and provided with the tools, skills and in-depth understanding necessary to develop a project proposal and subsequent practice in socially engaged public art.

Public Art and Social Practice Workshop Series Project Award

Art installation
Dick Averns' Recognition... Validation... Reassurance... 2017, installation view Illingworth Kerr Gallery. Photo: Jeremy Pavka

The City of Calgary Public Art Program is pleased to announce that the selection panel has chosen artist Dick Averns’ project Recognition… Validation… Reassurance… as the recipient of the Public Art & Social Practice Workshop Series award. Avern’s project also received the highest number of public votes during the exhibition Experiments in Public Art (March 23 – April 22, 2017) at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery. The public vote informed the selection process.

This project will invite community members to create their own framework for exploring and narrating personal experiences facilitating self-expression to improve both personal and collective mental health. These evolving themes will be explored through social practice in workshops with collaborating community groups, enabling participants to create artworks that address mental wellness based on personal experience and aspirations. Artistic outcomes will be exhibited in pop-up exhibitions and as citywide public art on billboards, transit stations posters, and interior panels on buses and trains.

About the artist

Dick Averns is a Calgary-based interdisciplinary artist and writer, whose art practice probes how mental and physical spaces are valued and exchanged. Averns works in sculpture, text-based art, photography, video, installation, and performance, in a public realm. In 2009 Averns was embedded with troops in the Middle East; the first time Canada has deployed a non-fiction writer as an official war artist as part of The Canadian Forces Artists Program (CFAP). Many of Averns’ art projects explore socio-political themes including conflict, environmental issues and mental health. Diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in adulthood, community collaborations feature regularly in his art practice and through community volunteer work. Averns teaches studio art, art history, and theory at the University of Calgary and his research has been disseminated in Canada, USA, Australia, UK and Middle East.

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