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.