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Podcast Series: Art Place engages community through social art practices

By Maria-Helena Pacelli on March 23, 2016

Art Place is a 3-year community outreach program of the AOE Arts Council. For the past few months, each artist or art group has been paired up with a local non-profit organization to engage with its community and to create collaborative artworks in a variety of forms: from dance and theatre to music and the visual arts.  Here, Apartment613 contributor Maria-Helena Pacelli sits down with some of the participating artists to learn more about their projects and the role of art in community building and social engagement.

All projects will be showcased in a final performance and exhibition at the closing celebration on April 2, 2016.

Song Mural: We talk with Argentinean-born musician Alicia Borisonik who collaborated with Visual artist Maria Gomez Umana on a Song Mural project. Aimed at youth aged 13-16 the goal is to give participants a safe space to share and explore ideas without judgement and to develop a sense of belonging, nurture curiosity, strengthen bonds and to create using new forms of expression.

Visual Art: Alisdair McRae’s project is to facilitate a multimedia art workshop with the downtown branch of the Salvation Army developing various projects that offer tangible benefits and enable social interactions within the community.

Dance: Dancer and Ashtanga yoga therapist Amelia Griffin of Tara Luz Danse has a project that engages a group of senior women at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health to create an improvised dance to live music.

Theatre: Ottawa-based theatre creator, community artist and educator Karen Balcome’s storytelling and theatre creation project engages 13-18 year olds from the Somerset West Community Health Centre Youth Drop-In program.

Performing / Visual Art: Expressive Art Practitioner Kat Clarida’s project engages urban Indigenous youth through practices such as performance, written words, visual arts and mixed media, with the aim of co-creating a final art project which explores their own feelings around being in an urban setting.

Music: Musician and performing artist Marley Giunta invites seniors from Unitarian House of Ottawa recognized and celebrated for their musical talents by doing sessions and following them over a course of a few months. The goal of the project is to inspire and encourage participants to share their musical talents through recording and building a live performance.

Theatre: The Ottawa Stilt Union is a bilingual group of artists, committed to bringing the magical and the unexpected into the daily lives of people in the National Capital Region. Their project is to create an original performance with seniors at Carleton Lodge. We catch up with Laura Astwood to explain.

Other projects include:

Music: Abel Maxwell’s project aims to develop self-esteem and community leadership with francophone
youth from the Centre Réveil International site and its surrounding community by teaching singing and
performance skills.

Storytelling: Marta Singh’ approaches the narrative of the immigration journey through listening, telling and deeply responding to folktales embodying physical and emotional journeys.

An Art Place Showcase is happening on Saturday, April 2, 2016 at Gallery 101 (51 B Young St) from 2-4:30 pm. Mingle with guests and Art Place artists to learn more about their community-driven projects. Keep up with the AOE Arts Council on Facebook.