The Fredericton Arts Alliance launched its 15th summer of artist residencies in the Barracks District this week with two highly skilled visual artists sharing the old stone casemate that forms their studio.
This year, artists were asked to reflect on the theme of New Ground – exploring what it means to come to a new place or to a new understanding of place, of home and of what these words mean in the context of a year when Fredericton has welcomed Syrian refugee families as well as many other immigrants.
Samantha Thebeau, a fine arts graduate from Mount Allison University, is working through embroidery, using drawing techniques with thread and fabric. She is looking at “our placement in the world through our relationship with our bodies and with nature, focusing on origins, at what we come from and what unites us.”
Jean Rooney has a fine arts degree from Trinity College Dublin University in Ireland and is a faculty member at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. She is working on outdoor sculptures using Hypertufa mix to mimic natural stone and create spaces for plants.
“I am an immigrant myself and I constantly deal with the issues of home, homesickness and displacement. I will be creating stone people, drawing from my experience of Irish folklore, and tales from back home. I will use these traditional stories from the old homeland to create and add to the new homeland,” she said.
Both artists are ready to explain their ideas and their process to visitors. They will offer tutorials and give visitors an opportunity to get involved with their hands as well as their eyes.
These artists’ residences give Frederictonians and visitors alike an opportunity to spend time with local artists in an informal studio setting, and they offer artists an honorarium as well as a chance to spend a week concentrating on some aspect of their own creative practice. Artists must apply for residencies, and the successful ones are selected by an independent jury to ensure visitors can expect a high standard of creation.
The changing themes of the residences from year to year encourage artists to look at their work from varied perspectives and challenge them to approach the ideas with different media, different outlooks, different intuitions. In this way they broaden the artists’ vision as well as giving visitors a variety of ways of seeing the theme expressed.
Thebeau and Rooney will continue in residence until Sunday, June 17.