In May 2016, I embarked on a quest: I decided to make work about nothing. More precisely, I wanted to see if I could undertake to Do Nothing as an art project. But as soon as I began, I was immediately beleaguered by the question: What does that even mean? This question lead me on a yearlong journey which wrapped up its first cycle the following spring.
Recognizing a need to continue this line of inquiry around the complex quest to Do Nothing (and deciding, finally, to this on as a lifelong preoccupation), I thought it could be relevant to look back to previous projects, to see how work from my past was actually paving the way for this current endeavour to come into being.
The result is a second cycle of the Doing Nothing project, expanded to include other processes that have informed my art-making, and, in my perception, encapsulate what I think of as The Invisible, Liminal Spaces in Art.
This next foray into Nothing happily found another home: The P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education & the Arts Artists in Residence program at McGill University (in the Faculty of Education).
Resting, Walking, Place-Making, therefore identifies three major components that, whether taken on their own terms or seen as intermingling within a single trajectory, each underscore the implicit mandate of revealing the more invisible aspects of artistic process.
emerges as the continuation of the yearlong project The Sanctimonious Sect of Nothing Is Sacred. Collectively enacted moments of downtime in a variety of public locations in Montreal were carried out alongside a program of curated dialogues (Talking About Nothing With…), both of which generated extensive discussions around the complexity of this quest. A general consensus repeatedly rose to the surface: that there is a need to carve out such spaces (and times) for deep pause within our personal lives and within our professional sectors – albeit that this is a very difficult thing to actually (or consistently) do. Sitting with the intricacies of these questions affirmed that (non)activity is an inherently political act: one that challenges notions of productivity, of what constitutes “failure” (and success) and our capacity to comfortably engage in “non-productive” uses of time.
issues forth from a series of residencies in Quebec and beyond in which geopoetic meanderings and one-on-one interactions considered such questions as: What consciousness do we bring to places we occupy? How do places inhabit us? How do we interact with the surrounding environment – and with others who we may encounter there? In a mindful habitation of successive sites, I undertook several accompanied trajectories; transactions that consciously situated themselves in relation to both “the other” (as we each become the other to one (an)other) and to the context in which we found ourselves. Unpacking the process of how we come to understand a place – and the conditions required to feel some sense of “belonging” – this was an inquiry into how “place” is indeed constructed. The goal was to activate these sites by introducing a performative element via a relational exchange – collaboratively working toward expanding a moment in time while collapsing an already diminishing space between the artist/audience and art/life. The art frame (while more-or-less imperceptible) provided an invaluable context and container within which to carry out this research – a rather delicate form of personalized social engagement.
is the inexorable by-product of both of the above. As a conscious act within these varied projects, walking has occupied the role of an embodied encounter with the surrounding environment: at once a means to get from point A to point B, while also creating connection to (and understanding of) “place,” through subtly integrating aspects of the particularity of “places” in a circularity of identity construction (place informs who I am; I imprint my identity onto a place). Walking is also, however, the most banal of pursuits, a “non-action” sitting at the threshold of liminal space as it exists as a largely invisible activity. Walking is slow, inefficient, unproductive. Rebecca Solnit writes: “[T]hinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking.” This succinct correlation accurately highlights the role of walking not only in my most recent research but also as a process that has become an increasingly central element of my post-studio art practice.
…Bringing the foundations of these lines of inquiry to the Artist in Residency program, my desire is to continue exploring these themes within a collective framework. To examine the roles of rest (slowness, stillness, spaces of pause and interval), connection to place (the way we invest of ourselves in the environments that frame our day-to-day activities both professionally and personally) and walking (an everyday activity that at once serves a practical function but also allows for freedom and fluidity of thought), as parallel forms of creative and intellectual expression that can enhance pedagogical methods while providing valuable tools for social engagement and change.
Faculty of Education, McGill University
As an Art-Mediator at McGill’s Faculty of Education, Maria Ezcurra has worked to facilitate dialogue and the exchange of knowledge through the arts. Supported the P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education & the Arts, she has been constantly promoting a participative approach to art as pedagogical strategy. Mediating between art and education, her work is to engage students, faculty and staff in diverse creative projects.
Among other initiatives, Maria has planned and facilitated several workshops and art events with the community of Education; she has supported the Artists-in-Residence to develop their art projects, including the permanence of the McGill Art Hive (started by her in 2015); she has coordinated DISE’s Visiting Artists Series, and organized McGill Faculty of Education’s Altar for the Day of the Dead, to honour the lives of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children in Canada, in collaboration with Lori Beavis (AiR).
INVITATION: McGill Art Hive (MAHI) Launch, TUE NOV 28 5 pm
The Faculty of Education cordially invites you to experience the transformative power of shared creativity as we launch the new McGill Art Hive Initiative (MAHI) to the greater McGill community. This initiative is made possible through the generous support of the Rossy Family Foundation, and builds upon the P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education in the Arts.
An Art Hive is based on the idea of an open studio space. It welcomes everyone as an artist, supporting them in the exploration of their creative capacity and aiming to build a stronger, more inclusive community through the process of art-making.
Come and spend some time in our newfound home learning more about what the Art Hive could mean for students, instructors and all the various student support units on campus; getting to know the artists-in-residence, and enjoying exhibitions and screenings.
Dr. Claudia Mitchell, Director of the IHDW
Dr. Maria Ezcurra, MAHI Art Facilitator
Ms. Sadaf Farookhi, MAHI Coordinator
Tuesday, November 28, 5-7 pm @ Education building, 3700 McTavish, 1st floor
Starting in September 2015, the Faculty of Education began hosting McGill’s first Art Hive (http://arthives.org) facilitated by AiR Maria Ezcurra in 2015-2016 and by AiR Lori Beavis on 2016-2017. Art materials and creative guidance were available to everyone who joined in to make art. It quickly became a space for getting together and create community through the arts. It was visited by 5 to 10 people per day, achieving a total of 250 visits in 9 months, including students, faculty, staff, and some external visitors.
For more pictures click here.
With the renewed priority, energy, and commitment that characterizes the Faculty of Education’s current work in the area of knowledge through the arts, the P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education & the Arts ensures timely and appropriate presentation of creative work in the Faculty. To this end, a small annual budget is being used to display student and researcher works in the Education building.
Starting in January 2016, the P. Lantz Fellows were invited to transform some common areas in the Education building based on what they think/feel the spaces needed. See Inhabiting Lost Spaces.
Also in January, the P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education & the Arts invited academics, students, and staff in the Faculty of Education to submit proposals for the Initiatives in Arts and Music Education. See New Initiatives in Arts and Music Education for a list of the selected projects.
Altar for the Day of the Dead
– Ofrenda de Día de Muertos –
To honour the lives of the children who did not return
from Canada’s Indian residential schools
November 2nd, 2017, 2-4 pm
Entrance lobby of the Faculty of Education, 3700 McTavish Street – 1st Floor, McGill University
* Join the new McGill Art Hive Initiative on Monday, Oct. 30, from 12 to 2 pm, to make art and traditional elements for the altar *
** There will also be a special screening session of the Weekly Indigenous Film Series related to our Altar for the Day of the Dead event, on Thursday, November 2nd from 4 – 6 pm, in room EDUC 216 **
This altar (ofrenda) commemorates the lives of thousands of children who were taken from their homes and sent to Indian Residential schools and did not return home. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has identified 3,200 deaths in the TRC’s Register of Confirmed Deaths, while other sources estimate that 6,000 children died in the Indian Residential schools. In over one-third of these deaths the schools did not record the children’s names, in one quarter of the deaths the child’s gender was not recorded, and in over half the cases the cause of death was not recorded. Children at Residential schools died at a far higher rate than school-aged children in the general population.
These findings are in keeping with statements that former students and their parents gave to the Commission. They spoke of children who went to school and never returned. The tragedy of the loss of children was compounded by the fact that burial places were distant or even unknown. Many Indigenous people have unanswered questions about what happened to their children or relatives while they were attending residential school.
The Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) is a festive and sacred time in Mexico and some other Latin American countries. This day, the souls of the dead are welcomed back, joined with the living, becoming a celebration of life. Significant objects are placed as gifts to the visiting souls in ofrendas: the altars for the children are set on the eve of October 31st with sweets, fruits and white flowers, while the eve of November 1st is the time to honour the adults. Although many elements of Catholicism were incorporated into the ofrenda after the Spanish conquest, it is considered mostly an Indigenous tradition.
As women artists we want to offer this ofrenda to the Indigenous children who never returned home – for whatever reason. Our hope is to promote awareness on this issue, creating a space for dialogue and bringing the community of McGill together.
With this ofrenda installed at the Faculty of Education, we want to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka people where we stand today, celebrating our ancestors and sharing diverse Indigenous culture with the community of McGill.
Project by Maria Ezcurra, Haidee Lefebvre and Lori Beavis, supported by the P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education and the Arts, Institute for Human Development and Well-being (IHDW) and the McGill Art Hive Initiative (MAHI).
Launch of the new publication:
The 7th Sense!
TouVA Proudly Announces the Launch of the new publication, The 7th Sense!
TouVA est fière d’annoncer le lancement de la publication Le 7e sens !
The 7th Sense: Practicing Dialogues / Practicing Workshops / Practicing the Daily Performative / Practicing Performance Art
Comprised of essays, a glossary, as well as contributions by 30 contemporary performance artists, The 7th Sense surveys the performative in, with and through language. It explores a vocabulary as a process of naming, and of articulating what happens before, during and after a performative action; to express what is experienced by the artist who proposes a work, and by the audience who receives it.
The TouVA collective presents a series of reflections which are to be understood in relationship to their artworks, and to the workshops that Sylvie Tourangeau, Victoria Stanton and Anne Bérubé have both taken or facilitated. Three practitioners’ voices offer multiple perspectives, plural yet singular, to consider the performative as an art, or as a way of life; they delineate a kind of pathway that invites the emergence and recognition of an increased sensibility in this vibrant and fleeting performative: a 7th Sense.
$40 (special launch price: $30)
Published by SAGAMIE édition d’art and M:ST
Please read more here
P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education and the Arts Presents:
Resting, Walking, Place-Making: The Invisible, Liminal Spaces in Art
Nothing continues!… I am THRILLED to officially announce Cycle 2 of the Doing Nothing project! Taking place over 2017-2018, Resting, Walking, Place-Making: The Invisible, Liminal Spacesin Art is being hosted through the Department of Integrated Studies in Education in the Faculty of Education at McGill University as part of their P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education and the Arts. Working alongside Aaron Richmond, we’ll be two Artists-in-Residence, on campus for the academic year.
The P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education and the Arts presents the Second Season of the Weekly Indigenous Film Series*, presented by former Artist-in-Residence Lori Beavis, in the Faculty of Education.
Supported by the Department of Integrated Studies in Education and the Institute for Human Development and Well-Being, the series will feature documentaries and feature films by Indigenous filmmakers.
(*) The Weekly Indigenous Film Series will run every Thursday, from September 28th to November 23rd, 4 – 6 pm, in room EDUC 233.
Please NOTE that the Weekly Indigenous Film Series will be launched on Tuesday, September 19th, 2 – 4 pm, in room EDUC 338. As part of the Indigenous Awareness Week, DISE’s Weekly Indigenous Film Series will be screeningFinding Dawn (2006, NFB, 73 min), by director Christine Welsh.
Directed by acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh, Finding Dawn is a compelling documentary that puts a human face to the national tragedy of MMIW.
There will also be a special screening session related to our Altar for the Day of the Dead event, on Thursday, November 2nd from 4 – 6 pm, in room EDUC 216.
Please see more here
List of films:
“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (Waititi, 2016)
9 Nov. 2017 – 16:00 to 18:00
2 Nov. 2017 – 16:00 to 18:00
“Martha of the North” (Lepage, 2009)
26 Oct. 2017 – 16:00 to 18:00
“No Turning Back” (Coyes, 1997)
19 Oct. 2017 – 16:00 to 18:00
“Rocks at Whiskey Trench” (Obomsawin, 2000)
12 Oct. 2017 – 16:00 to 18:00
“Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance” (Obomsawin, 1993)
5 Oct. 2017 – 16:00 to 18:00
28 Sep. 2017 – 16:00 to 18:00
Learn more: https://knowledge-through-the-arts.ca
They will be collaborating with the community of the Faculty of Education during the 2017-2018 school year, supported by the P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education & the Arts and the Institute for Human Development and Well-Being (IHDW).
We’re very pleased to welcome Aaron and Victoria to the Faculty of Education.
By Lori Beavis
zhigwe / aim is a multi-week project initiated by Lori Beavis, P. Lantz artist in residence, that seeks to introduce contemporary Indigenous artists and their art work to the students, faculty and staff.
The word zhigwe (su-i (flat i)-gwe) is the Anishinaabe word for aim. It is an appropriate choice on two levels, the first being that in the act of aiming your smartphone at the QR code, information will be revealed about the image. The second is, the aim of this project is to ask – Can learning about the social and political issues these Indigenous artists are examining educate us as educators? Can knowledge of contemporary artists and their art contribute to reconciliation? Will this knowledge help us move forward in reconciliation and build “capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect”? (TRC Calls for Action (2015) p. 7, #63.iii)
Art by artists, Shelley Niro, Adrian Stimson, Barry Pottle, Lori Blondeau, Kent Monkman, Barry Ace, David Garneau, Nadia Myre has been chosen because they are all working with material and subjects that create awareness of the Indigenous experience in Canada. Their work is also very accessible in terms of the subject matter and eye-catching images. The viewer may also have an emotional response to the work. Art is often a way to say the unsayable – it can tell stories about family histories, knowledge and experiences and it can often open the space to have a public discussion about difficult and challenging subjects.
These images also speak to the notion of self-representation and this is important because the artists have a story to tell about Canada as a colonial space from an Indigenous perspective. The stories are important and may in some ways act as a form of activism as the information is dispersed.
The images of the art works will be displayed alongside a QR Code (Quick Response Code). When the square of black & white code is scanned further information about the artist and the object will be available. The code can be captured with your smartphone camera. To be able to read QR codes, you need to download a free QR Reader app, such as Quick Scan, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/quick-scan-qr-code-reader/id483336864?mt=8
For more information follow these links:
and on McGill Faculty of Education Facebook page:
or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Lori Beavis
Using the idea of grandmothers as teachers and memory holders I am exploring the idea of presence. I am asking people to come and join me at the Art Hive and bring one of their grandmother’s recipes. This might be a recipe that they made with their grandmother or one that she made for you. At the same time we will share the memories of our grandmothers and of cooking with her. The recipes will be left as a permanent marker of on-going presence.
Presence: the Grandmothers – I have taken the idea of the grandmothers as holders of memories. The stones that heat the Ojibway sweat lodge are often named as grandfather of grandmother. In Anishinaabe culture the grandmothers are the knowledge holders of language, customs and beliefs.
For this project I am thinking about the idea of the vestiges or remains of our heritages and of our identity and through this to how we self-identify. I also want to examine the idea of presence. How do we know or what do we know about the past from what we can see today, in the present? What did our grandmother tell us about our family heritage? How do we hold the knowledge of the past and keep the vestiges of what went before? Whose presence guides or informs us? What are the vestiges of our past family generations – in our lives? on the land?
To help answer some of these questions and establish a presence and an on-going presence (hidden or partially seen/known of). I am asking people to share memories of their grandmothers, as these memories are usually very tangible and immediate. One way of coming to these memories is by asking people to use their memories of cooking with their grandmothers as a way to enter into knowing who we are. I have started with recipes that I remember from my life with my grandmother, Laura Hannah Cowie Jones, a Mississauga woman from Rice Lake Ontario.
I am asking people to come and join me at the Art Hive and bring one of their grandmother’s recipes. This might be a recipe that they made with their grandmother or one that she made for you. At the same time we will share the memories of our grandmothers and of cooking with her. The recipes will be written on the wall of the studio space.
In time the wall will be covered up but I think this adds another layer to the idea of presence and ultimately, identities and how they move and change over time – but the knowledge that your grandmother gave you about who you are stays with you and there is always some hidden presence left.
By Lori Beavis
My objective in intervening in the Freire cabinet was to pose a number of questions. I have not specifically answered these questions in an academic manner but I have provided materials (book jackets, quotes and other bibliographic materials) to suggest a starting point for a discussion. I also made paper jingles (acknowledging Maria Huppfield) from old books hung from threads that indicate the four directions.
Is there a connection between Indigenous experiences and Freire?
Is there a connection between Freire and Indigenous experiences of Residential Schools?
What is literacy?
What does literacy look like in a Euro-western understanding and in Indigenous culture?
How does literacy impact/ limit community development?
What are the emblems of literacy? -> pens/ pencils/ books – signatures
What about literacy and the signed treaties? – Literacy/identity -> signatures versus dodems
What does cultural knowledge look like?
What is emblematic of an oral tradition?
Did the Residential Schools teach literacy?
What else did the Residential schools teach?
What did the Residential schools take away from the students?
This project was made in collaboration with the Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE), McGill.
With this exercise we collaboratively explored the relationship between formal education and other kind of local pedagogies and personal ways of knowing.
Outreach Mural Project
Learning from creative workshops with youth and professionals
Last year as part of my residency, the P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education and the Arts, faculty from McGill’s Department of Education approached me to design a collaborative mural project for local artists and Montreal youth. Its objective was to build on existing connections between McGill and other educational sites, develop a learning experience for the participants involved, and create a more lively and colorful environment in the lobby of the education building (3700 McTavish).
The idea behind the visual was to create a work of art inspired by graffiti, street art and pop surrealism. We wanted to design a strong imagery and a compelling vibrant visual work using a mix of typography, organic delicate lines and an abstract arrangement mixed with bold strokes and a flowing colourful palette.
Under the creative supervision of myself and François Léandre, 7 talented artists committed themselves over a span of 6 weeks (twice a week) to the project: Ariella Racco, Galit Sandeav, Aquil Virani, Chloe Rowan, Michelle Harazny and Maria Ezcurra from McGill (D.I.S.E), Saphir Voyer from Vedun, Emmanuel Akintade from Dawson College,Tatiana Liz Rivera from John Abbott College, Kaiya Gulston from Vanguard School and Alexandre Cambron from le Programme Graffiti Lachine.
I am thankful for the artistic liberty that the McGill Department of Education and the P. Lantz Initiative for Excellence in Education and the Arts allowed for this project. I would also like to thank the Department of Integrated Studies in the Arts for helping with the logistic and details.