The “Lunenburg Residents”: Charting their courses as professional artists
May 20, 2010

Every year since 2006, the old fire hall in the centre of Lunenburg’s Old Town has served as a home, studio and gallery for a group of emerging young artists.

They’re the “Lunenburg Residents,” newly-minted NSCAD grads who spend a year in this idyllic coastal town teaching, exhibiting and building their portfolios as working artists. In the process, they become part of the fabric of this close-knit community.

The NSCAD-Lunenburg Community Residency Program, now entering its fifth year, helps new graduates make the transition from the security of school to life as professional artists.

Over the course of the 12 months, the residents not only build their portfolios. As part of the program, they also work with elementary and secondary school students, and offer workshops, lectures, open houses and exhibitions to the Lunenburg community in an effort to create a dialogue about contemporary art practice.

The residents’ unique studio and living space, located in a former fire station at 40 Duke Street, is made available through generosity of the Town of Lunenburg.

So what happens after a year as a Lunenburg Resident?

2006 - 2007: Dustin Wenzel, BFA ‘06 and Kristy O’Leary, BFA ‘06
As the pioneers of the program, both Dustin and Kristy soon adapted to the change of pace and began focusing on their future careers in the arts.

Dustin is completing his MFA at York University and recently received a SSHRC research grant for a project titled "New wonderment: Technology and the scientific body in art and culture."

Kristy O’Leary is now co-owner of the design firm LaLaNova, based in Halifax and Lunenburg. Her experience as one of the first Lunenburg residents not only gave her the opportunity to meet her now business partner, but also allowed her the freedom to reinvent her work and her future path in the arts.

2007 - 2008: Kristina Vermeulen, BFA ‘07 and Heather Keeling, BFA ‘07
After leaving Lunenburg, Kristina became involved with the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council and has pursued her education in Business Administration. This spring, she’ll be working in Mexico on an international business project, while learning Spanish.

Heather moved to Ontario where she joined local potters' guild and continues to pursue her personal work.  For Heather, “Living and working in Lunenburg also showed me how valuable community within the arts is. Reaching out to the community through workshops, teaching and volunteering was not easy but also very fulfilling and broke down many barriers. In Lunenburg I got a taste of the life of a studio potter and it has fuelled me to keep my hands in clay."

2008 -2009: Meris Mosher, BFA ’08, Kristen Brown, BFA ‘08 and Heather Rathbun, BFA  ‘08
Meris, Kristen and Heatherhave been busy moving forward with their independent careers.  

Meris has established her own business based in Halifax, Point of Departure Jewellery, making unique jewellery and belt buckles that incorporate elements of Halifax landmarks.  Meris has been featured at Lafreniere and Pai Gallery in Ottawa, Ontario.

Heather Rathbun recently received a full-time scholarship position in Toronto at Harbourfront Centre's Craft Department artist-in-residence program for jewellery / metalsmith.  

Kristen recently registered her own business, Pattern Behaviour Textiles.  Working full-time with a high-end fashion retailer and running her own business, Kristen is looking at pursuing graphic design to build her knowledge base and grow her business.

2009 – 2010: Kat Frick Miller, BFA ’09, Katherine Thomas, BFA ‘09 and Jennifer Green, BFA ‘08
The current residents Kat, Katherine and Jennifer are winding down their time in Lunenburg and preparing for their great community workshops, school projects, and closing exhibition and lecture.

Throughout the year, the residents have worked as a team building visibility for the program both in Lunenburg and at NSCAD. The School of Extended Studies sponsored each resident’s enrollment in the course “Enhanced Learning Cultures” as a means of supporting their teacher training.

Jennifer and the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic were successful in their application for a Cultural Activities Program Grant through the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage for Jennifer to lead a flax spinning workshop through the Museum. Jennifer also received a Professional Development Grant through the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage in order to travel to Owen Sound, Ontario to study with Mavis Atton, a well-known flax spinner.  Jennifer’s work will be published in the upcoming edition of Ornamentvm magazine as part of an article featuring craft and design at NSCAD University.  

Kat received funding for a Community Partnership Grant applied for by the New Germany High School in order for her to work individually on a screen-printing project with a Grade 12 Advanced Art student. 

All three residents are developing workshops for the Chester Art Centre as part of the Teen and Tots program funded by the Youth Program Grant through the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. The residents have been happily active in their own artistic pursuits and are definitely making the most of their Lunenburg experience.

The 2010 – 2011 residents: Amélie Jérôme, Rebecca Roher and George Cho, are already looking forward to September and their move into the old fire hall. You can read more about them here.