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Emily Damstra Named Recipient of 2017 Guelph Arts Council Jane Graham Memorial Award

Damstra photo

Guelph Arts Council is pleased to announce that the 2017 Jane Graham Memorial Award goes to Guelph natural science illustrator Emily Damstra. 
Emily is a full-time freelance illustrator who exhibits regularly and produces natural science illustrations for publications, interpretive signs, and websites, as well as coin designs for the Royal Canadian Mint. With her affinity for details, delight in colour, desire for scientific accuracy, and propensity for research about her subjects, she views her art as a way of learning, both for herself and for viewers of her artwork.  
Emily submitted her application as a request for assistance to attend the 2018 Conference of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators in Washington, D.C., in July 2018. This international conference will offer workshops, demonstrations, presentations, a juried exhibition and portfolio-sharing opportunities that will allow her to enhance her skills in specific techniques and, just as importantly, to network and gain inspiration and insights from others in her field.
The jury for this year’s award was impressed with Emily’s well-written and persuasive application, and applauded her for her practicality and clarity on setting professional goals to take her work to the next level. 
Established in memory of local artist Jane Graham following her untimely death in March 2005, the Guelph Arts Council Jane Graham Memorial Fund is managed by the Guelph Community Foundation. As a result, Guelph Arts Council is annually able to assist visual artists residing and actively practising in Guelph or Wellington County, helping them to pursue professional development opportunities that will contribute to individual personal artistic growth.   
For more information about the Jane Graham Memorial Award program and Guelph Arts Council, please visit guelpharts.ca, phone 519-836-3280, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or drop by our new home at 10C Shared Space, 42 Carden Street, Guelph. For more information about Emily Damstra, please visit her website at http://emilydamstra.com/.

Find the original press release here

Save the Date for Guelph Arts Council and Meridian Credit Union’s Upcoming Wealth Management: Creating Long-term Financial Stability Workshop

GAC is pleased to collaborate with Meridian Credit Union in presenting Wealth Management: Creating Long-term Financial Stability, an interactive workshop led by Wealth Advisor Jeffrey Klompus that will take the mystery out of investing and planning for the future.

On Tuesday, December 5, 2017, the workshop begins at 6 pm at 10C Shared Space, 42 Carden Street, Guelph. Thanks to the generosity of Meridian Credit Union, a GAC Annual Sponsor, the workshop is free (PWYC).

Registration is required. Stay tuned for online registration, or book now by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling 519-836-3280.

The Next Chapter for Weather Watcher

Lisa Hirmer is a Guelph-based inter-disciplinary artist whose work spans visual art, social practice, community collaboration and practice-based forms of research. Weather Watcher, completed last year as her Guelph Artist in Residence project, has recently found an exciting new home as part of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s exhibition Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood, where Lisa’s work joins a broad range of cultural, traditional, spiritual and land-based stories in a multimedia installation featuring projects by artists from across Canada.

Over the course of the summer of 2016, Weather Watcher developed as an installation, performance, and engagement piece that sought to capture artistic, poetic, and systematic recordings of Guelph’s weather. Through observing the windsock installed at Guelph’s City Hall, recording the weather with a mobile weather station, and engaging our community in everyday conversations about the weather, Lisa engaged the public in a reflection on the impact of the weather on our personal and community lives.

Guelph’s Artist in Residence program engages the community in creative experiences and embeds artistic activity in our public spaces to contribute to the vitality of the community. Lisa speaks of her residency as a tremendous learning experience, and an opportunity to see where projects might lead. Lisa shared that the residency gave her a running start with Weather Watcher, and she was able to build on that momentum in her following works.

Her works in Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood include an outside installation of a larger windsock, visible from the exhibition space and Grange Park in Toronto, as well as a series of photographs which drew on her experience creating Weather Watcher. The work explores the idea of Canada as a winter country, how the seasons as we used to know them are changing or gone, and the impact of that change on Canadian identity. Lisa feels that projects are greatly enriched by multiple iterations or by exploring them in different contexts.

Since Lisa’s time as Guelph’s Artist in Residence, she has embarked on several other residencies from Santa Fe to Australia to the Yukon, which explored a variety of environmental issues. Lisa shares that international residencies allow you to get away and focus on a project, while connecting with different artists and different ways to build projects. When you are working locally, everyday life is more ingrained in the work, but residencies provide a different understanding of place and the context at play in the work. She notes that living in Guelph means having a rich creative community to return to after residency hopping.

Join 2017’s Guelph Artist in Residence, Carolyn Meili, on Sunday, November 19th, in downtown Guelph for a showcase of her project, The Parade, during the Guelph Community Santa Claus Parade. With the help of Guelph’s residents, Carolyn gathered a visual language of symbols over the course of the residency that was representative of our community. These symbols informed the design and construction of wearable sculptures and art pieces, a selection of which will be on display.  

New Culture Summit in the Neighbourhood

By Sharon Whittle

The Amplify Summit hosted by the City of Waterloo gathers researchers, artists, designers and creative industry members to showcase cutting-edge ideas that explore the fusion between community, art, and technology.  Participants discover a unique opportunity for knowledge sharing, networking, and community building.

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Images courtesy of the City of Waterloo

In 2016, I eagerly accepted an invitation by my workplace to attend the first annual Amplify. I looked forward to participating in the conversation of art and technology and their shared creative voice but, as an artist, I didn’t think it was for me. After all, my art is pretty non-tech based. How could a Summit that delves into the fusion of art and technology be applicable to my art? At the first Summit, Jeremy Frieburger from CoBALT Connects spoke about the Biometrics of Belonging and his work in Hamilton with regional and municipal partnership development and creative sector development. At the risk of overstating, he blew my mind. His talk wasn’t just a sharing of his experiences. It was a call to arms: break free of expectations, utilize technology to create and share creation, and - most importantly - work collaboratively and honestly with others.

In response to a question from the audience about how the City should increase support to artists, Jeremy challenged the group present to invert this kind of thinking. Organize together, set professional standards, set community-focused goals, embrace them, and be kind to one another to show the City what we can do. While the City can and does lead, it doesn’t end there. As citizens, it’s our responsibility to be the support we want to see for the arts. We need to stop waiting for others to “fix” what we think has gone “wrong” and stop laying blame.

As a participating member of The Mary Allen Studio Tour, I have worked to support this community event since 1996. Started in 1989 by a group of dedicated artists living in Waterloo’s Mary-Allen neighbourhood, the tour is an opportunity for artists to share their work, passion and expertise with the community. There was nothing “wrong” with the Tour, but truthfully, like any group that has been together for a long time, we struggled with seeing ourselves in a new light. Times had changed, and it was time to admit this.

With Jeremy’s words still resonating, I attended a MAST meeting later that week, and as we rehashed (once again) the same topics, the same problems, and the same questions, I realized this was an opportunity to be our own leaders. I asked for the group’s patience if they would indulge me in an exercise to re-vision ourselves and I’m glad to say they were ready to see how we could support one another through change and quickly agreed to a new plan. This led to the most dramatic shift our Tour has seen in its existence. New marketing, new logo, new participants, new weekend, new times, and new partnerships resulted. The response to the new mindset has been amazing, but there is still more we can do.

This year and in a different job, I attended Amplify as a private citizen and was glad I did. Dawn Matheson, Hiba Abdallah, and Remco Volmer inspired as they discussed their works, collaborations and journeys in Belonging, Placemaking and Innovation. They challenged old approaches to art and the sharing of art and creation. Each speaker, as well as those in the breakout sessions, shared their vision and efforts on how to engage and collaborate to keep art and access real and immediate. They discussed how technology could both challenge this and at the same time make it easier. Bob Egan of Kitchener Public Library and Tara Cooper, Fine Arts professor at the University of Waterloo, talked passionately about how public and private institutions can help improve and continue community access and how partnerships help make that happen.

I have attended Amplify as an employee with a mandate, and separately as a private citizen with a purpose, and both times each session, each presenter, each participant stimulated my desire to continue this journey.

Save the date: October 24, 2018, http://www.waterloo.ca/en/living/Amplify.asp

Summary of 2017 presentations:


Hiba Abdallah of Broken City Lab talked about a series of projects which offer an injection of disruptive creativity into a situation, surface, place, or community.

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Multidisciplinary artist Dawn Matheson shared about her projects, including A Sense of Wonder, a collaboration with d/Deaf and hard of hearing youth from across southern Ontario.

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Remco Volmer of Ottawa-based collective artengine shared a range of ambitious art projects that explore the overlap between technology and humanity.
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Peer-to-Peer Sessions

Paul Roorda, the artist behind Time Stops, talked about his work, including the story of Time Stops, a series of unexpected art installations that popped up around Waterloo this year.

Pamela Mulloy, Editor, Susan Scott, Lead Nonfiction Editor, and Consulting Editor Lamees Al Ethari, of The New Quarterly, hosted a round table session called Canadian Writers and Writing Call Out: Diversity in the Arts.

Bob Egan of the Kitchener Public Library ran a peer-to-peer session about the revitalization of libraries, and what can be achieved by embracing innovation and going beyond the books.

University of Waterloo professor Tara Cooper talked about S.A.I.L (Student Art Innovation Lab), a summer arts outreach program which runs out of an Airstream trailer. The trailer was on site for attendees to visit.

Shirley Madill, executive director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, spoke about layering the gallery experience, captivating a multifaceted audience and decolonizing space.

CAFKA in the Global Context was presented by executive director Gordon Hatt and board member Victoria Kent. They toured smaller cities similar to Waterloo, across Canada and abroad, that over time have become cultural tourism destinations known for contemporary art festivals.
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Phillip Winn, of Project for Public Spaces, gave the keynote on placemaking – how planning, enlivening and reimagining public spaces might be approached.

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