Art Building Community

Minerva Cuevas



Joanne Bristol
JB and Sabre in rehearsal for the performative lecture: Performance Spaces for Domestic Animals, 2005. (photo: Joanne Bristol)
Joanne Bristol is an artist and writer who has presented installations, performances and single-channel videos across North America for the past 15 years. Current projects include, a work for the web about technology, obsolescence and invention, and the Institute for Feline & Human Collaboration (IFHC), a site for ongoing projects in interspecies communication and interaction. Joanne has taught intermedia, sculpture and performance art at universities and art colleges in western Canada for the past seven years. She also curates, and writes about contemporary art. In 2006 she was guest performance art curator at The Western Front where she developed a series of programs on performance art and activism.

Artist Statement
My art practice is invested in understanding relationships between nature and culture, and between art, science and history. In the past I have created installations, performances, videos and bookworks looking at the history of science from feminist perspectives.

Most recently I have been examining the possibilities of working through performative interventions to engage publics in considering the politics and poetics of human-animal relationships. I am looking at how humans hold animals – within ideological and architectural structures – as well as how different species can have reciprocal influence on each other. I am especially interested in doing this through focusing on perception, affect and the haptic.

Though live exchanges with people (and other animals) are central to my current work, I also document performances with video, photography and writing. Exchange, storytelling, humour and play are aspects of my work through which I try to engage with audiences. As well as being an artist and writer for the past fifteen years, I also am an art educator and curator. I continue to seek out projects involving interdisciplinary collaboration, and those that have the potential to build links between different communities and different ways of knowing.

Leah Decter
Untitled, Digitally manipulated video stills, 2008

Leah Decter
is a visual artist whose practice includes installation, sculpture, video and performance. Her work has been exhibited in Canada since 1993, with recent work exhibiting in the US and touring internationally. Leah has worked as a curator, educator and mentor, and has been active in public and socially-engaged work since 1999. She currently makes her home in Winnipeg, having returned in 2006 after many years in Toronto and Vancouver.


Artist Statement

Leah Decter
Untitled, Digitally manipulated video stills, 2008
My work is rooted in intersections of human experience and social justice issues. A desire to understand more deeply the conditions underlying these issues and their effect on the realities of lived experience drives my practice. Over the last several years my work has reflected inquiries into the construction of place as a human imperative and a potentially destructive force. This includes ‘here’, an ongoing body of installation, sculpture and video works that consider overlapping themes of location, identity, loss and agency through a lens of the contemporary and historical. I am currently developing new work that integrates these themes with longstanding explorations into the potential of activating processes of witnessing, and the complexities of bystander psychology.

Jennifer Delos Reyes is a Canadian artist originally from Winnipeg, MB. Her theoretical and studio research interests include: relational aesthetics, group work, interactive media and artists' social roles. She has exhibited videos, installations, and site-specific participatory work across North America and Europe. In 2006 she completed an intensive workshop, Come Together: Art and Social Engagement, at The Kitchen in New York. She has received numerous grants and awards including a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Masters Grant. In 2007 Jennifer organized a conference on socially engaged art practices titled Open Engagement: Art After Aesthetic Distance. In the fall of 2008 she will join the faculty at Portland State University in the Social Practice Program with Harrell Fletcher.

Image of myself on screen at Future Farmers Bingo, 2007, Regina, SK.
Group Cheer, Photo of group cheer of Open Engagement, 2007

Cathy MattesDetail of Kokum Mamama, 2006, KC Adams, Installation
Cathy Mattes is a curator and writer with an MA in art history from Concordia University (1998). In her curatorial practice Mattes focuses on Aboriginal issues and art. Examples are: Rockstars & Wannabes (2007, Urban Shaman Gallery & Video Pool Inc.), Transcendence – KC Adams (2006, Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba), and The Best Man – Riel Benn (2004, Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba). Mattes has contributed writings to MAWA (Mentoring Artists For Women’s Art), Canadian Dimension, National Museum of the American Indian,
Cathy MattesRoger Crait finding his inner Rockstar at Rockstars & Wannabes, September, 2007
Gallery 101, and Border Crossings. Mattes was the Aboriginal Curator-in-Residence at the Winnipeg Art Gallery between 1999-2000, and the curator at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba between 2003 and 2005, and now continues to focus on contemporary Aboriginal art as a freelance curator and writer. She teaches sessionally at Brandon University, and is the Cultural Liaison and Outreach Coordinator for MAWA. She lives and works out of Sprucewoods, Manitoba.

Curatorial Statement
As I navigate within and around the local, the global, cultural codes, my own hybridity, and my rural and urban existences, finding ways to engage, be engaged, be present, while having some sort of presence is a priority in my curating.

JJ Kegan McFaddenPyramid Vivant, Performance documentation, 2005
J.J. Kegan McFadden is a Winnipeg-based cultural worker. A founding member of the As We Try & Sleep Collective, Kegan is a writer, curator and artist. He has contributed texts and reviews to Border Crossings Magazine, C-Magazine, FRONT, and Geist; as well as critical responses to exhibitions at aceartinc.; STORAGE; The New Gallery; and PLATFORM: centre for photographic + digital arts. Since 2003, his curatorial projects have been exhibited at A Label for Artists; Plug In ICA; PLATFORM; and Belkin Satellite. Kegan holds a BA Honours in Art History from the University of Winnipeg (2005) and an MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies from the Department of Art History, Visual Art & Theory at the University of British Columbia (2007). He is currently the Director of PLATFORM: centre for photographic + digital arts.

Artist / Curatorial Statement
In all my endeavours, I seek to communicate ideas based in a fundamental understanding that everything is political and should be treated so. When considering community-based art actions, I think it is important to understand the various dynamics that come into play: socio-economical, political, and personal. In my experience, the best outcome for an exhibition or presentation is the resulting dialogue.

Community consultation for Leah Decter and Spence Neighbourhood Association's WITH ART project. Photo by Leah Decter

Tricia Wasney is public art manager for the Winnipeg Arts Council. She has worked in Winnipeg's art community for many years in various roles of program co-ordinator, project manager, board member, juror and artist/writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Studies and a Master of Landscape Architecture degree, both from the University of Manitoba. She was hired by the Winnipeg Arts Council in May 2002 to develop the public art policy that was ultimately adopted by Winnipeg's City Council two years later. In January 2004 she was appointed Manager-Public Art and now oversees a steadily growing public art program that includes art commissions, artist-in-residence projects and a community-based program entitled WITH ART.


Artist Dimitry Melman working with members of the Elwick Community on a WITH ART mosaic project. Photo by Tricia Wasney

"We wanted to create a community art program that would be truly collaborative and meaningful...we were not interested in art as decoration or in serving a purely functional role. We wanted artists and community groups to use the art process to work through concerns and ideas. I think in being strong in our convictions and in the criteria for the program, we attracted equally committed and strong community groups for the WITH ART program who really understood and embraced the concept. As an arts administrator and as an artist and writer myself, I am really interested in notions of home and place. This must be something that resonates with many of us since when I think about it, many of the projects explored through WITH ART are about place (or displacement) and home (or homelessness) and all the evershifting terrain in between."

Heather Benning, "The Dollhouse" from PrairieJaunt: Southwestern Manitoba (2007)
Jenny Western holds an undergraduate degree in History from the University of Winnipeg and a Masters in Art History and Curatorial Practice from York University in Toronto. While completing her graduate studies, she was offered a position at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba where she worked as the Curator of Contemporary / Aboriginal Art for two years. Jenny has served as an independent curator for the Label Gallery, a venue for the emerging artist in Winnipeg, and as a curatorial assistant at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. In 2006 Jenny received a Fine Arts Award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation to complete her research on contemporary art and cultural hybridity in Canada. She is currently working with Urban Shaman Gallery, Ace Art Inc., and the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba to produce a publication and group exhibition about the legacy of female Aboriginal artists in Canada that is slated to be presented in 2008.

Erica Lowe, "The Mayor of Harding" from PrairieJaunt: Toronto (2007)

Curatorial Statement:
Jenny Western's curatorial practice is engaged with work by emerging, rural, and Aboriginal artists. An interest in relational aesthetics, the role of the participant-observer in art and the art gallery as a social space has been the driving force behind many of her exhibitions, including the "PrairieJaunt" project. Co-organized with artist/curator Amber Andersen, "PrairieJaunt" attempted to bridge the gap between rural and urban art scenes. Site-specific and large-scale work by Shirley Brown, Heather Benning, Erica Lowe, Libby Weir and Amber Andersen were visited in a day-long "art crawl" throughout Southwestern Manitoba while the artists sent miniature versions of their work to Toronto to participate in the garage-based arts festival AlleyJaunt. "PrairieJaunt" is an exercise in the translatability and exchange of identity, location, and culture; an investigation that remains ongoing in Jenny's curatorial practice.

Shelley Niro in a workshop with Crossing Communities members, 2006

Edith Regier is the founder and current Artistic Director of the Crossing Communities Art Project. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston. In 1995 she founded the Portage Art Project at the Portage Women's Correctional Centre that in 2002 evolved into the city based Crossing Communities. Her interest is in advocating the use of the imagination and culture as a means to create networks of friendship to work towards social and economic transformation.






Edith Regier, In Memory of Darcie Hall performance, Brazil 2005
Crossing Communities' art projects are designed not to challenge and potentially alienate but to engage with and look for that place of human relation where compassion for an other can be encountered and influence inclusive development and policies in prisons, medical practices, front line service providers, university curriculums as well as in broader economic and social structures. Crossing Communities operates through interdisciplinary projects with women and youth who face multiple barriers, sociologists, historians, anthropologists, front line service providers, international non-governmental organizations, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, performance artists, photographers, videographers, and others to make and exhibit artwork. Crossing Communities' art projects intend to shift the space of human relation between those who are disenfranchised and those who are typically in the social centre.