Greater Forest Lawn

YOUTH ARTS ACTION (South) and WHAT FEEDS US are our primary program in GFL. They are both comprised of youth aged 15-18 who act as creative leaders in their community.

Strangers in our Neighbourhood

Our first Youth Arts Action meeting of the year occurred this past week. 

This term we are focusing on building connections with strangers and hearing their stories. Greater Forest Lawn is full of a diverse population and we think they have incredible stories to tell.

As we ventured out into the streets of Forest Lawn to speak with strangers, and exercise inspired by Toronto-based Mammalian Diving Reflex Artistic Director Darren O’Donnell, we approached random strangers and the youth got to know them.

We spoke with a local business owner, a man who has found community through his faith, a man who the youth deemed a “thug” but ended up being a real advocate for social connection and inclusion, and two sisters who have grown up being each other’s best friend while growing up with three brothers.

We debriefed by discussing what the social stigmas or assumptions we made about these people prior to talking to them were, and how these differed once we broke down the barriers of being strangers.

This was our first investigation into learning about the strangers we call neighbours in Greater Forest Lawn. Stay in touch as the youth leaders/artists in the Greater Forest Lawn Youth Arts Action group dive further into this community to make positive social change.

Interview with Artist Lane Shordee

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Over the past few months the Forest Lawn Youth Arts Action group has been busy working with local Calgary artist Lane Shordee to complete a public art signage project that will be installed in the new Forest Lawn Natural Playground. We sat down to ask Lane a few questions about his work and his process.

Stay tuned for more images of this finished project and other projects Youth Arts Action is completing in Greater Forest Lawn

KEVIN: Hi. Lane. Let’s start off by telling us a bit about yourself.

LANE: I’m a professional artist. I live in Calgary, but I started drawing in Saskatchewan. I draw consistently. When it comes down to it, all the things I make come from some sort of drawing, whether or not it’s a drawing that lives in my brain or one that makes it out into the world.  The final outcomes are always different, but they all start with drawing; making stuff up, scribbles, sketches, whatever you might call it.  Not to say that I pull things out of thin air, because I don’t.  Ideas all come from somewhere, and that’s where objects come into play.  Now objects can be as far ranging as bits of information picked up in a youtube video to a gum wrapper on the street; it’s all material that I can work with.  Tactile objects (the ones I can touch) are usually the solution to making a drawing a reality, but they often appear as a sort of puzzle piece looking for another, instead of a perfect answer, especially when it comes to found materials. The materials I use are always undergoing a process of modification, which is both challenging and exciting.  I have to admit that some things are more intriguing than others, but most of the time I can’t tell until I have lived with them for awhile, sometimes that can be years, other times it can be seconds.  I do not discriminate between objects and things or people and places, because everything is unique and has the potential to become part of a language that we can speak.  Objects have charisma, by that i mean they contain something that has an impact on the world. If they intrigue me then they might have that same impact on someone else.  I have come to an understanding that all things are in flux, which means that all things have the ability to become something different.  So in the drawing process, I reclaim material, to help build a story about a cultural mash-up of ideas rooted in all parts of history and the differences between the environment that we live in and the environment that we wish for.

KEVIN: You’ve done quite a bit of work. Can you tell us more about some of this work you have done?

LANE: In the last few years I’ve been working on a lot of different types of projects, collaborating with all types of people, and using all sorts of materials. I am really curious about water, so many of my projects are about it.  It is such a powerful force when you look at tsunamis, floods, and the ocean.  At the same time water is something we use everyday: to cook, to clean, to play with.

In the summer of 2014 my good friend, Michelena Bamford (a local mosaic artist), and I wanted to create a sculpture that would help resolve a flooding issue at the Wildwood Community Center. So we made ‘Water Spiral’, a work of art that could store the rainwater that was pouring off the roof of the community centre, into an underground cistern that was used to water the neighboring community garden.  We also wanted to create a meeting place for people  in the neighbourhood; we built a deck above the cistern from materials we scavenged in the community, like old planks of wood, signs, and fences.  To tie it all together we used an old propeller to create a wind turbine that would keep the water moving down below in the underground cistern.  

Another project I had a great time working on this year, that also talked about water, was a puppet show called “The River”. I created a cast of puppets from recycled cardboard for the show that told of an old folk story, partially based on David Thompson’s journey up the North Saskatchewan River and Native American Folklore.  It follows a character called the trickster, and a love story that evolves between the moon and the stars.  In the story the river becomes a living being that ties all of the characters together. I was fortunate to work with a group of talented performers/puppeteers that brang my creations to life.  In the end I learned valuable lessons on how they used my puppets, that I could take into future projects to help me understand how people play.

KEVIN: Why is reclaiming found materials so important to you and your work?

LANE: The reclamation of material, or scavenging, came from a deep seeded belief in valuing all materials equally, and taking responsibility for how we use them.  This includes our waste, which we’re quick to toss away without thinking about how it impacts our world.  I’m interested in recognizing how I contribute to the Anthropocene era (which began around the 1970’s to the present, when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth’s ecosystems.)  

I believe that if we can look at rejected materials, or waste, in a new way - as something that can be functional and beautiful, it could start to help curb our negative impact in the world.  By making these works, I want to start a conversation about how we can use waste like we would use any other resource.  Could we build a bicycle out of old sink parts? Or a skatepark out of rejected cars?  Instead of hiding our waste in a landfill, we can give it a new life.

Antyx Youth Visit Tiny Gallery & Bee Kingdom Glassblowing Studio

Stephanie: Recently Youth Arts action had the opportunity to visit Tiny Gallery and Bee Kingdom Glassblowing.

Peter Meadows, owner and creator of Tiny Gallery, talked to Youth Arts Action about ideas of place-making and making art for social change. He discussed how to analyze your audience when making public art, how to recognize their habits and trends, and how to cater your public pieces to the audience to make the greatest impact with your messaging. He showed the group how tiny gallery is usually designed as a series of around 3 plinths that are set up in the community to create a walking “show” that the public can engage with.

After this presentation, Youth Arts Action visited Beekingdom Glassblowing, where Phil Bandura gave a demo and talked about the collective and their work in the community. He discussed what kinds of projects and messages they touch on when they make their pieces and some of the history of their work over the years. In addition he also talked about their first inflatable piece, “fabulist,”  that the collective made this year for Beakerhead Festival.

Thank you again to all our artists and partners that we were able to visit. This certainly was an inspiring trip!

The Circle - Theatre Reflects REAL Issues

ATP Dramaturg Laurel Green, Kamilla, and Kevin from Antyx

ATP Dramaturg Laurel Green, Kamilla, and Kevin from Antyx

 
 

Kamilla: Have you ever been to a theatre show where you actually watched parts of your own life play out? I haven’t. Not until last night anyways when I went to see Alberta Theatre Projects’ “The Circle” written by local writer/performer Geoffrey Simon Brown. As a matter of fact, up until last night I hadn’t been to a professional theatre performance.  Kevin, Community Arts Facilitator with Antyx Community Arts, provided me with a free ticket.  He told me he could use a youth representative from Antyx at the pre-show panel-circle discussion with Antyx and other youth servicing organizations that provide a place for  “youth to belong”.  I thought: hey why not it sounds fun. Boy, did I make a great choice!

It was so real. I wasn’t watching theatre; I was watching real people living real lives. I was watching real experiences so well put I almost forgot I was in an audience. I couldn’t believe how relatable it was. These characters weren’t just characters. I wonder if these people were even acting. The lack of censorship really brought this show to life. When I say no censorship I mean that nothing was taken out for the comfort of the audience; it wasn’t re-arranged to be a comedy, or a mystery, it was just real.

I got to chat with the actors and actresses in the post-show talk back. When they heard it was my first time at a theatre they welcomed me into their “circle” . I talked to one of the actresses who after saying one line to me, “thanks for coming”, I began to tear up and I couldn’t explain why. Even now writing this I begin to cry a bit. Maybe it was the way she said it. I really did belong even if it was just a show. I really felt like a part of something.

A big thanks to Laurel Green, Alberta Theatre Project’s Artistic Associate and panel moderator that evening, for providing free tickets to Antyx youth.  And, thanks to Antyx for creating a sense of belonging for youth in our community.

If you haven’t seen the show yet, I recommend that you go and check it out! The show runs at Alberta Theatre Projects (located in the Arts Commons) until November 7, 2015. Youth can get a ticket discount of $25. Here is a website link: http://atplive.com/whats-on/the-circle/

Beakerhead 2015: Poetry Board & Stage Design


Antyx Communtiy Arts partnered with #Beakerheard again this year. Heres is Kamilla, one of our #youthartsaction youths had to say about the festival and our group creation:

Kamila: “I don’t celebrate Christmas, or Easter; I celebrate Beakerhead.  It’s that one time of the year where people from completely different lifestyles connect with one another. It’s a place where Environmentalists work with mechanics, and no one asks questions. Creativity is of no limit, but as a thoughtful young philosopher once said: “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” (Lao Tzu). That being said for Beakerhead this year we’ve created something everyone was able to contribute to. On the main stage we’ve managed to attract the attention of many individuals with no prior experience, who in the end created a temporary hub space for anyone to send a message, or interact with the community. Interested in learning more? Check out the video above!”