Flood Stories: Creative Flotsam on the Edge of High Water
This is My City Art Society
+15 Window Exhibition
April 8 to May 31, 2014
This Is My City created a limited edition hand-printed book that honours images and words from many contributors. Stories and texts were collected from various sources including the homeless community. The images include relief prints made by youth at Inn from the Cold and photographs by Max, a Drop-In Centre evacuee. Printmaker and This is My City artist-mentor Eveline Kolijn leads this project that captures the rawness and diversity of emotions evoked by the 2013 flood.
Print media is intricately intertwined with visual communication. Many printmakers today strive to express their personal artistic voice in a variety of print media techniques. However, printmaking has also historically served to circulate text and images on wider sociopolitical issues to the public.
The mandate of the This is My City Art Society is to engage citizens who experience homelessness or who live in the margins of our society, with art making and to share the results with the wider Calgary public. What better format of sharing than publishing a hand-printed book, with text and images generated by the participants from workshops organized by This is My City? The pieces in this exhibition have not been generated by professional artists. However, showcasing them in a formal exhibition context provides the much needed voice they deserve.
A year ago, Calgary was shocked by a rare natural event. The Bow and Elbow rivers, engorged through spring melt and rains, flooded vast areas of the city. Affluent homes were affected as well. Citizens, who never expected to experience homelessness, were evacuated. Some of these homes were irreparably destroyed by the flood. You could imagine that homeless citizens would not be affected, since they have no permanent home to begin with. That proved not to be true. Many homeless shelters were in the inundated areas, so their clients had to be evacuated as well! It is a shocking experience, when your last refuge in a fragile life is taken away. Especially Alpha House, a shelter geared towards homeless people with addiction issues, was severely flooded. Its clients ended up living in very spare, makeshift arrangements in the empty former Science Centre building for many months.
To showcase this aspect of the flood in the annual This is My City festival, volunteer artist-mentors have worked with youth from the Alex Youth Health Centre and Inn From the Cold; and clients from the Alpha House and Drop-In Centre, to create Styrofoam prints and texts on the subject of home, homelessness and the flood. I have selected texts and Styrofoam images to compile and design this hand-printed, limited edition book of 25 imprints. This has been a truly collaborative project, of which the main contributors are credited below.
– Eveline Kolijn
Max Ciesielski is a visual and performing artist. After a career as a set designer/builder across Western Canada, he has discovered a new life on” the other side” of the stage. He continues to paint, perform and photograph in Calgary.
Shannon Jones has been working with youth services for over 20 years. She is a Team Lead at the Alex Youth Health Centre, the mother of two, and loves to sing. She is a former board member of This is My City.
Eveline Kolijn is a Calgary-based print media and multidisciplinary artist. She is the founding board member of the This is My City Art Society. She has organized and led TMC visual arts workshops, organized TMC exhibitions and events. She has exhibited nationally and internationally. She was appointed to the Calgary Public Art Board in 2013.
Kirk Miles is a published poet, an award-winning playwright and spoken word artist, and a professional clown. Involved with This is My City since 2012, he is recognized for his substantial contributions to the development of his disciplines and the community-at-large.
Hannah Poon is a Calgary artist and social worker and also a graduate student studying Arts in Community Development from Philadelphia’s Eastern University. She is currently sitting on the Programming Committee of TMC and working on art programming at Inn from the Cold.
Lea Storry is a corporate/personal legacy writer who collects and preserves corporate histories and family memories and publishes them either digitally or in book form. She’s also taught various writing workshops for This is My City in 2013.
Sally Truss is a singer/songwriter with over 50 years of performance and writing experience to share. She joined This is My City as an administrative advisor in 2011 and has evolved her role to embrace many other capacities including artist-mentor.