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Fanshawe grads create art in paradise

Erika Faust | Interrobang | News | April 11th, 2011



A brand-new arts residency program saw three Fanshawe fine art grads traveling to Barbados for four weeks in January.

Joscelyn Gardner, professor of fine art at Fanshawe, is one of the founders of Art Connections, an international non-profit residency program. Gardner is a Barbadian and former professor at the Barbados Community College, and this program was a way to introduce young Barbadian artists to other emerging artists from around the world, she explained.

"Because I (now) teach in Canada, we thought we would work with Canadian artists to start with. Fanshawe's fine art program is one of the well-recognized ones in Canada," she said. "Because I have a link here, because I'm teaching here, we started here."

She worked with two colleagues to select top graduates from the last five years of the fine art program. They ultimately chose three grads to send to Barbados: Josh Peressotti, a 2008 graduate; Jessica Massard, a 2007 graduate; and Daniel Glassford, also a 2007 grad.

"It was my first time out of North America, so it was interesting (to) ... go to a whole different country," said Glassman. The culture shock hit him as soon as he stepped out of the airplane. "The airport was totally different. You land on the strip and you walk out of the plane. The whole airport was open and there were people everywhere. It was just unusual."

The difference in culture extended far beyond the airport. "I think I learned a lot culturally about how art operates in other parts of the world," he said. "Just how hard it is to get arts supplies in Barbados versus how it is in Canada, how they run their gallery systems — everything is completely different. Just understanding how all of that operates was a real eye-opener."

Glassman said he brought many of his art supplies with him after doing some research about the materials that would be available to him in Barbados. "(I found that) it was much cheaper for me to bring it from Canada than pick it up there. They get charged duty on everything, so it's like twice the (price) and they have very little supplies."

"You can understand why they operate differently than we do, in their processes and stuff, because of supplies and what they have available to them," he said.

Besides Barbados' residents and unique processes, the island's environment also had an impact on Glassman's work in January. "My current work takes its inspiration from how geological things form, like rocks, and how they wear away and erode. Barbados is an entire island made of coral, so I really tried to focus on that and pick up on the natural coral patterns."

The three Fanshawe grads resided with three young Barbadian artists — Alicia Alleyne, Tonya Wiles and Nicholas Grimes — in an old plantation home on the island from January 3 to 31.

"We were all working in the same space, so we were interacting and talking with each other, and watching each other work," said Glassman. "We'd pick up how they operated, what their processes are, how they go about starting their work. It was very interesting — not necessarily technically — but more conceptually of how they approach things."

At the end of the four weeks, the artists gave a presentation and held an art show on the island. According to Gardner, every piece created by the Fanshawe grads was sold.

"I think it was a good experience for them, and for the people in Barbados, because it exposed them on both sides to a different culture and way of working," she said. "They did a lot while they were there. They visited with quite a few different established artists on the island, and people visited them when they were working on their work. They also had a critic from Finland write about them."

Glassman echoed this statement, adding that he "definitely" found this to be a valuable experience. "I made lots of connections with artists there. It helped with networking and future endeavours."

Gardner said she is looking into continuing this program in different countries around the world, and added that she is hoping to bring the Barbadian artists to Canada.

"This was an experimental project that just got off the ground. We're determining whether to go ahead with these residencies or not. (The Fanshawe grads) were the guinea pigs," she laughed.

To read the blog written by the grads during their residency in Barbados, visit artconnections-barbados.blogspot.com.
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