Celebrating 10 years
October 8, 2015

The NSCAD Community Studio Residency program is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and its combination of community engagement and artist development is a big draw for this year’s residents.

Lunenburg program

Lux Habrich (BFA Interdisciplinary, 2015), one of this year’s Lunenburg residents, values the reciprocal learning and team-building skills involved with working in a community. “I take pride in being involved in movements that promote unconditional inclusion, respect and support,” says Lux, who has been involved with Team Possibles in Halifax. Lux’s work, primarily ceramics and textiles, focuses on healing and empowerment and the collective issues these raise.

For her part, Julie Wagner (BFA Ceramics, 2014) wanted to take her work beyond school walls. “I was looking for an experience to give me time to create art outside of the university setting. I wanted to find a studio space where I could build my portfolio.” Having previously completed a residency at Medalta in Alberta, Julie is keen to maintain her connection to NSCAD through this residency. “The program is a great opportunity to work independently but with some guidance from NSCAD faculty.”

More than 30 residents have completed the program in sites across the province, including Lunenburg, New Glasgow, Sydney and Dartmouth. An agreement between NSCAD University and each site guarantees residents the free use of studio space in exchange for a strong community presence and involvement with the town or hosting organization.

Residents have gone on to secure gallery representation, complete graduate degrees, and create their own businesses. Marley Johnson (BFA Painting, 2014), a seasoned traveler and Katimavik participant, credits his experiences with different communities as vital to his artistic growth. “This kind of relationship towards community involvement is essential to sustaining a healthy lifestyle and art practice.” Marley is one of the three residents in Lunenburg.

Residents are responsible for organizing lectures by visiting artists, hosting workshops for adults and youth, working collaboratively with local schools and putting on art shows and displays. It’s a demanding schedule, which sees the 12 months of a residency term disappear quickly.

“We ask a lot of the residents: to engage with community, to develop new events, to make progress as emerging artists. It all takes time and focus, which is why only the strongest candidates are offered places in the program,” notes Stephanie Mason, the program coordinator at NSCAD.

MacPhee Centre, Dartmouth

“There’s something about getting lost in the process of painting. I get completely engrossed in what I’m doing,” says Caitlin McGuire (BFA Interdisciplinary, 2014), a former student assistant at NSCAD known for her colourful works. Caitlin is one of two residents at the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning, where she will also be teaching in their youth program.

She shares a studio there with Kelsey Pearson (BFA Printmaking, 2015), who is keen to make art an everyday occurrence. “I hate to think that exposure to art is reserved for academics and artists. I want art to be accessible, and in abundance.” Her passion for storytelling and humourous critiques will be shared with youth through the classes offered by the MacPhee Centre.

Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design

Sarah MacLeod (BFA Interdisciplinary, 2015) is resident at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design in Sydney, where she is already planning her opening show and working with staff there to develop community programming and workshops.

Despite the expectations placed on them, residents enjoy the chance to share their skills with members of the public, and often form lasting relationships with the residency sites through mentorships or living and working in the region.

Such connections strengthen NSCAD’s community connections. The residency program gives graduates a chance to further their artistic growth supported by the ties of teachers, friends, family and neighbours. Caitlin notes, “Art opens up avenues for discussion and communication that might not otherwise happen. Being open to one another is the beginning of forming relationships that shape community.”

Upcoming shows

Impulsion – with residents: Lux Habrich, Marley Johnson, Julie Wagner
Opens tonight (Oct 8) @ 5.30 at the Residency studio, 40 Duke Street, Lunenburg
Show is available from Oct 9-16
Echo/Location – Caitlin McGuire, Kelsey Pearson
Opens Thurs Oct 29 @ 6.30 at the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning, 50 Queen Street, Dartmouth
Show will be available for viewing
tradition I can trace - Sarah MacLeod
Opens Thurs Oct 29 @ 4.00 at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design, 322 Charlotte Street, Sydne