Join us for a lively and informal conversation between FOFA Gallery Director Nicole Burisch and invited guests Franchesca Hebert-Spence, Shelley Ouellet, and Geneviève Wallen on how curators, artists and institutions practice hospitality. Together they will discuss strategies for welcoming people to a space, think about how to acknowledge and value the unseen and unglamourous administrative labour that goes on behind the scenes, and ponder how budgets and artist contracts and policy can exist alongside (or help create) warmth, welcome, silliness, fun, and community.
Nicole Burisch is a curator, critic, and cultural worker. She is a settler of German/Scottish/Irish/English descent, born and raised in Treaty 6 territory (Edmonton) and currently living and working in Tio'tia:ke/Mooniyaang (Montreal). Her work focuses on discourses of craft, feminism, performance, collaboration, labour, and materiality within contemporary art. Burisch has held positions and presented projects with a number of organizations, including: the National Gallery of Canada, Optica, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, She Works Flexible, Mentoring Artists for Women's Art, Artexte, Walter Phillips Gallery, The New Gallery, Centre des arts actuels Skol, and the Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival. Her research (with Anthea Black) into curatorial strategies for politically engaged craft practices is included in milestone publications The Craft Reader (Berg) and Extra/ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art (Duke University Press) and together they co-edited The New Politics of the Handmade: Craft, Art, and Design. She is currently the Director of the FOFA Gallery at Concordia University.
Franchesca Hebert-Spence’s first engagements with art were as a maker, creating an emphasis on guest/host relationships and the responsibilities that arise from a non-hierarchical relationality within her curatorial praxis. She is Anishinaabe and her grandmother Marion Ida Spence was from Sagkeeng First Nation, on Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba. Kinship and its responsibilities direct the engagement she maintains within her community as well as her understanding of how institutions move and breathe. The foundation of this practice stems from Ishkabatens Waasa Gaa Inaabateg, Brandon University Visual and Aboriginal Arts program. She has begun as a PhD student in Cultural Mediations at Carleton University and holds the Morrisseau Project Fellowship under Dr. Carmen Robertson. She is an Independent Curator and previously served as an Adjunct Curator, Indigenous art at the Art Gallery of Alberta, and a Curatorial Assistant within the Indigenous Art Department at the National Gallery of Canada.
Shelley Ouellet is an MFA candidate in the Studio Arts program at Concordia University researching in Fibres and Material Practices. Prior to joining the program at Concordia, Ouellet worked as an arts educator, administrator, and advocate with the Banff Centre, Alberta University of the Arts, several artist-run centres, as well as the municipal public art collection in Calgary. Her studio practice spans more than two decades, and she has exhibited her work across Canada and in the UK. In her current work, Ouellet looks at how representations of landscape have been and continue to be used in the building and branding of contemporary Canadian identity. Connecting political, economic, military and art historical research, Ouellet analyzes post-war cultural policies that serve to reinforce twentieth-century colonialism and Canadian nationalism in the interest of capitalist expansion and unfettered resource extraction.
Geneviève Wallen is a Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montreal and Tkaronto/Toronto-based independent curator, writer, and researcher. She obtained a BFA in Art History at Concordia University (2012) and an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice at OCAD University (2015). Wallen’s practice is informed by intersectional feminism, intergenerational dialogues, and BIPOC healing platforms offering alternatives to neo-liberal definitions of care. Her ongoing curatorial explorations include the practice of gift-giving, carving space for unfinished thoughts, and musings on the intersection of longevity and pleasure.
Wallen contributed essays for C magazine; the anthology Other Places: Reflections on Media Arts in Canada, edited by Deanna Bowen; and the anthology The Politics of Spatial Transgressions in the Arts, edited by Gregory Blair & Noa Bronstein, among others. Wallen is a part-time Exhibition Coordinator at FOFA Gallery; she is also part of the collective YTB (Younger than Beyoncé) Gallery; the co-initiator (with Marsya Maharani) of Souped Up, a series of sporadic and thematic dinners for racialized curators and cultural workers; a member of the Black Curators Forum; an advisory board member of the Centre for the Study of Black Canadian Diaspora, and she recently joined Vie des arts’ editorial committee.