Meet the artist … in a Concordia residence
As students begin unpacking their luggage in residence halls across campus, alumna Caroline Boileau (MFA, 10) will be moving her art supplies into her new studio space at Concordia's Grey Nuns Residence.
“It feels strange and wonderful to be back at Concordia,” says Boileau, a Montreal-based mixed-media artist and the heritage building’s newly appointed artist-in-residence.
Following the successes of last year’s informal launch of the Grey Nuns scholar-in-residence program, Residence Life joined forces with the Faculty of Fine Arts to create an embedded artist position for this fall.
Previous scholar-in-residence, Peter Gossage, chair of the Department of History, provided insights about the background of the space. This year's project aims to introduce students to Montreal’s vibrant art community with Boileau as their guide.
“This is going to provide art students with a fantastic opportunity to have in-depth interactions with a practising artist,” says D’Arcy Ryan, director of Residence Life. “It will also give non-art students a great way to open their eyes to a whole different community.”
'It's important to explore any city you live in'
“Montreal has this incredibly rich and vibrant ecosystem of cultural activity,” says Rebecca Duclos, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts. “For us to be able to bring someone of Caroline’s stature into the residence community, and then to have her go on to introduce students to the fabric of the city from the perspective of an artist — it will be a pivotal experience for many of our undergrads.”
As part of her mandate, Boileau will take students on “art crawls” around the city, visiting hotspots like Sainte-Catherine Street and around Mount Royal Park.
Having access to local culture is not only relevant from an artistic standpoint; it's also a way to help students settle into their new environment, she says. “It’s important to go out and explore any city that you live in. If I can facilitate that by giving students access to different neighbourhoods, I feel that’s helpful.”
These walks will not only introduce participants to the local art community but also allow them to translate their experiences into art through workshops and group discussions held afterwards.
According to Ryan, these types of extracurricular, out-of-the classroom learning opportunities are what Residence Life wants to promote. “They provide students with a way to learn and grow, and I think that’s key.”
'A horizontal relationship'
Over the course of her residency Boileau will transfer her entire studio into Grey Nuns, where she will have an open-door policy. She hopes student residents will stop by for a chat.
“I want this to be more of a horizontal relationship then a vertical one. I’m very interested in what students are thinking, doing and how they are going through their daily lives.”
With regards to her practice, Boileau says, “I always look for contexts that are very far from gallery space. I’ve worked in parks, hospitals, community centres and on the street. I do this because it changes my art. I don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s really half the fun.”
'A different way of seeing things'
While not everyone living in the Grey Nuns residence is a Fine Arts student, Duclos hopes that Boileau’s presence will let students from other programs know more about the Faculty.
“I think that we can offer all students a different way of seeing things. We encourage openness to improvisation and responsive, resilient thinking which is very valuable to all disciplines.”
Regarding the future of the Grey Nuns program, the ultimate goal for Residence Life is to have an individual-in-residence from each Faculty.
Visit Caroline Boileau, Concordia's real-life artistic guide, in her new studio at the Grey Nuns Residence.