Attention! Artists at work

Students exchange creative production for pay at Concordia’s FOFA Gallery
June 29, 2016
By Renée Dunk

Steffie Bélanger’s creative process is both in-depth and contemplative. | Photo courtesy of the artist

This summer, two artists will undertake a paid residency at the FOFA Gallery, creating new works of art in exchange for an hourly wage — something that the gallery’s director, Jennifer Dorner, says is “generally unheard of.”

“This is the perfect job for artists, because it takes place during a normally quiet period when they would otherwise have had to find non-creative, nine-to-five work,” she notes. “It also draws attention to the fact that artists aren’t generally being paid for their labour, which is legitimate work.”

Through the Young Canada Works program, Dorner is bringing alumna Steffie Bélanger (BFA, 13) who is pursuing graduate studies at UQAM, and Rebecca Munce, a current MFA candidate in Studio Arts, to the university from July 11 to August 26 to create art in the gallery spaces. She’s asked them to consider labour and craft as ways of interpreting elements of culture as they produce in situ at Concordia. Bélanger and Munce were chosen by a jury from more than 70 applicants across Canada.

The artists-in-residence will keep a regular schedule at the gallery and make themselves available to speak about their respective creative practices.

For Rebecca Munce, a summer artist residency “is the ideal situation.” | Image courtesy of the artist

Expect to see Bélanger skilfully building wood contraptions in the main gallery that call to mind a range of apparatus from prosthetics to torture devices, while Munce will draw an imagined world, immersed in the urban setting of Sainte-Catherine Street.

Bélanger says that when she examines her relationship with work, she sees little difference between her labour and that of a carpenter, and that the creative process is both in-depth and contemplative.

“The main point is that I end up with an object of reflection, and not one for everyday use. Also, remember that in order to reach a finished sculpture, there are dozens and dozens of other thoughts and ideas that have been considered and abandoned.”

Munce is thrilled to participate in the FOFA Gallery’s summer program.

“This is the ideal situation,” she says. “One always hopes for a fair exchange of efforts and compensation. As artists, we are working; everyone has different hours. FOFA's residency is formalizing our pre-existing workday. I know I'm working, but perhaps it’s important that the public who will be visiting knows that as well.”

Anyone interested in watching the artists at work this summer can find them at the FOFA Gallery, located on the ground floor of Concordia’s Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV), Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A finissage will be held in the final week of the exhibition to celebrate the completion of Bélanger and Munce’s elaborate creations, which will include drawings, sculptures and performances.

Find out more about the FOFA Gallery’s Artists at Work residency.


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