Artist of the Week – Stephanie Rayner

June 1, 2012 § 4 Comments

Watercolour Print Artist, Stephanie Rayner

Dan Brown has it. Nelson Mandela has it. And this week’s Artist of the Week, Stephanie Rayner, has it.

“It” is the ability to inspire people to question their beliefs. Perhaps not change anyone’s mind, but to start an internal dialogue. To encourage someone to realize that the status quo can evolve, that the necessary evolution of ideas will lead to a greater depth of understanding. Rayner engages the viewer not by forcing them to question whether what she creates is art, but instead, whether or not they are ready to ascend to a new level of perception.

She blends religion, mythology, science, art, music, media, and ideas into thought-provoking works. Every piece is not just beautiful, but opens the doors to new dimensions waiting to be discovered. Her print works are layers upon layers of watercolour and subtleties of colour and texture; her gallery creations are typically large, often installation-style pieces blending research, innuendo, metaphor, and allegory.

Although her epic creations take hundreds of hours to create and years of planning and research, her beginnings were humble enough. In this day and age, many children and youth are raised to be empowered – they believe they can do anything, be anything. Despite coming from a long line of artists, Rayner’s father discouraged her, claiming that “There’s no place for women in art”, nor would there be.

Stephanie took the advice to heart. Rather than pursuing her lifelong dream, she decided that if she couldn’t be an artist she would choose a field so closely related to it that it would amount to almost the same thing: interior design. But, either through a cruel twist of fate or part of a larger, grander design, Rayner soon realized that while her part-time jobs could collectively pay for tuition, her pockets weren’t deep enough to pay for the supplies and materials required. (Sadly, her “burlap and found-object chairs” simply didn’t impress the instructors – after all, there are only so many things you can make out of burlap before it loses its novelty…) She abandoned her studies to see the world…

In this day and age, it is hard to find places as yet undiscovered, or at the very least, off the “beaten-track”. But fortunately for Stephanie (who’d always wanted a TIME MACHINE!), there were still places in the 70s that just hadn’t quite made it into the 20th century. And the call to adventure began… Afghanistan, Iran, Central & South America, Hindu Kush…

In Africa, she lived in a tree house à la Swiss Family Robinson, during one of her trips to North Africa she was caught by slave-traders. In Central America, she rode out a hurricane with her partner in a tiny mail boat out of Belize, only to be marooned afterwards by the sailors when provisions ran low. As though torn from the pages of R. L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island itself, they met their own Ben Gunn: a man stuck on the island who’d built a raft. With three people to man it, they landed on the shores of Guatemala at 2am. At gun-point.

They were stood against a wall, a firing squad in front of them.

Rayner recollects that she walked right towards the man in charge, his machine gun raised and trained on her, fearlessly whistling. It wasn’t until she had to sleep in a cabin with thousands of rats that her mettle deserted her. “They were like maggots, if you’ve ever seen a lot of them: they were sliding back and forth over each other, and wriggling and writhing. I didn’t scream when I thought I was going to be shot. I screamed when I saw the rats.”

Detail of “Spirit”

These experiences perhaps ingrained what Stephanie now understands to be a universal truth : “[The human] ability to deal with the world has always involved art and expression, it is a window for the soul,” she explains, “From the beginning, cavemen used art to deal with things beyond their understanding.” That might begin to explain why she whistled a tune in the face of almost certain death…

Nor was the episode in Guatemala the last of her adventures. In 1999, Rayner was asked to speak in Malta at joint INSAPP II, a Vatican Symposium on religion and science. Then, Stanford University’s Centre for Advanced Learning hosted her in 2002, to lecture a group of international scholars on “Art and the Evolution of Human Consciousness” in Palo Alto, California. A couple years later, the Zygon Centre in Chicago invited her to speak at their “Epic of Creation Lecture Series”. While the next few years calmed down ever-so-slightly, the momentum picked up once more when she was invited to China in 2009 to teach her own unique printing process at Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, in Shen Yang, and to lecture on her art at various other universities and institutes throughout China.

She spoke of meaning and soulfulness in art; and how, possessed of the best technique in the world, an artist (or a work of art) can still lack soul and vitality. It was, for her, an incredible experience. Teaching energizes her; she sees the potential in each and every student and she loves to see the students blossom in their creativity.

The two courses she’s offering this summer in watercolour printmaking will no doubt be fantastic; the first, Watercolour Monotypes, will be running from July 30th – Aug 3rd and encourages students to loosen up in their creative process, while still achieving outstanding and breathtaking results; the second, Impasto Waterbase Printmaking, will be running the following week from Aug 6th – 10th and teaches the intense layering of pigmentation that reveals itself as the prints are pulled. Students have virtually filled the halls with drying prints – all exceptionally beautiful and totally unique to the artists.

“The medium is forgiving, it’s experimental but you can have control, too,” she says about her watercolour printmaking techniques. “If you dance with it, it dances back. And there has to be teamwork in the process as well: students assist each other at the press and everyone is excited when a new print is pulled. You can hear us cheering in the halls!”

Her current work in progress will be the culmination of many years of work and research: a twenty-nine foot boat titled Eternal Return, it reveals the shared mythology of the many cultures that make use of a boat to journey to the Otherworld. It is an epic mixed-media work involving moose ribs, wood, glass, DNA-sequencing, Mozart’s Requiem, dice, and countless hours of research and construction. We can’t wait to see it!

To register for either of Stephanie’s workshops, or for more information, please call 1-866-353-6464 x3 or visit us online at www.hsta.ca

To get in touch with Stephanie, please visit her website at www.stephanierayner.com

Advanced Individual Studies class displays their work

May 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Steve Rose’s group of artists displayed their incredible pieces in the Great Hall yesterday afternoon. We were able to snap a couple of quick pics to share online…

Artist of the Week – Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman

May 17, 2012 § 11 Comments

Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman

“We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.” Desmond Tutu, on ubuntu

Her eyes, even in the most dim conditions, seem to sparkle with an inner light. They dance, they laugh, they sing. She possesses one of those rare and pure gazes that has the ability of seeing right into a person. It is not invasive or unwelcome; you simply get the feeling that she wants to connect, to share stories and emotions, to bridge that part of all of us that keeps us apart: space.

The many years that Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman has spent in selfless service, being involved in missions from an early age in Asia and Europe, becoming an elementary teacher and  a professor, then using those skills as the president of a Christian humanitarian organization working in parts of Africa and the Caribbean to improve education for children, have served to shape both her and her outlook on life.

Some might argue that pulling away from those efforts, giving it all up to create art, well, it might seem a hair… selfish. Until, upon seeing her creations, you realize that she is undoubtedly doing the world a greater service by becoming an artist.

“My aim is to evoke universal emotions in the viewer that will encourage him or her to tap into the spirit of “Ubuntu”:  what it means to be truly human – “to be wrapped up in the bundle of life”,” she writes.  “I have become profoundly aware of how interconnected we are – with each other and with nature. Art is a vehicle through which I can explore and honour that.”

There is unquestionably in all of her artwork a touch of the whimsical, a hint of fancy. But when you actually look at her work, you will find countless other attributes that are nuanced and revealed with such subtlety and nobility, that you will wonder why it has taken Jennifer so long to share her inner-artist with us.

Her mixed-media pieces are liable to be made of nearly anything from metal and wood to glass and eggshells. The juxtaposition of these materials is equally as stunning as the work themselves: on the one hand there is a feeling of permanence, a sense of longevity and durability; yet, the organic materials incorporated flawlessly into the work reveal a fragility and offer the distinct impression that the function of everything on earth is ephemeral, merely awaiting its next stage where it will be re-purposed and given a new task.

Of all of her pieces, each one unique with no duplications, perhaps one of the most striking and powerful is that titled Offering. Made of river stones, burlap, concrete, branches, and metal it depicts a woman kneeling with her arms raised, hands in a gesture of giving, and face tilted toward the heavens. When looking at it, you’re struck by an overwhelming sense of power; there is no surrender in her offer, no weakness. The woman is offering herself, as she is – heart, body, mind, and soul – to a greater power, and in this way shows her vulnerability as well. There is no weakness, true, but in offering everything she has to give, there is without question a sense of vulnerability: what if her offering is refused?

       

Jennifer cast various pieces of herself for the project: hands, feet, face, torso, buttocks. And, while it was a very emotional piece to create due to its symbolic connections with the artist’s own beliefs, the sculpture itself maps out beautifully what it means to truly be a woman: strength and sacrifice.

And, what it takes to be human: courage and hope.

We can’t wait to see what Jennifer creates next. She has been recognized by the college not only for her exceptional work but also her consistently positive outlook on life, and will be the valedictorian for this year’s graduating class. Jennifer was also recently nominated for the BMO Student Art Competition and our fingers are crossed for her!

For more information about Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman, please contact her by email at jwilsonbridgman@sympatico.ca or by phone at 905-730-8839 . Her website will be coming soon!

picture of jennifer wilson-bridgman

Jen, doing teacher development training in Kenya, makes friends with a couple of “orphelines”…

25 Things to Do in Haliburton When You’re Bored

April 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

ImageRent a movie, grab some jiffy-pop, and invite your mates over

Walk around Head Lake on the Head Lake trail and admire the view. Take your camera along.

Explore the art galleries: Ethel Curry & Rail’s End

Gather all yer friends together for a bowling night in Carvarvon

Hike up to Skyline Park for a great view and a BBQ

Head to the beautiful staircase off Highland St just before the bridge for a glimpse of the waterfall

Take pipe lessons on Monday nights with the Haliburton Highlanders at the Legion

Grab your mountain bike and hit the dirt (trails) at Sir Sam’s

There may not be a Timmy’s, but enjoy a fantastic cuppa at Village Donuts

Dust off the old box of 30 year old National Geographic mags and make some paper beads (just add string & glue for a funky necklace!)

Image

This is not actually the view from Skyline Park...

Book a soapstone carving lesson with Kim Warne, then take a shower with the end product! (OK, maybe not really take a shower with it…)

Go on a shopping spree at the Lily Ann: support a charity, shop til you drop!

Check out the great gear at Outdoors Plus for your next outdoor adventure

Host a board games night: Monopoly Madness, Pictionary Party, Scrabble Scramble, etc

Cozy up with a book in a big chair with a nice old fashioned cup o’ hot cocoa

Sit on the dock by the lake (yes, this is a totally legitimate thing to do)

ImageBum a ride off a friend and head to Minden for a nice cool cone at Kawartha Dairy

Paint on old chair/table/rug/counter/dresser and give it new life

Catch the game with some pals at McKeck’s

Explore the Haliburton Highlands Museum and take in some history

Read the Haliburton School of The Arts blog on wordpress

Write a poem about the leaves dancing in the wind, tree branches swinging, whispering to a friend, a song together singingImage

Visit the dump to check out their free-to-a-good-home book collection

Belt it out at the Northwood on Karaoke Fridays

COME TO THE STUDENT SHOW ‘N SALE ON APRIL 21st between 10am & 2pm ! ! !

Artist of the Week – Mary Kroetsch

March 5, 2012 § 2 Comments

Mary Kroetsch

She’s an artist, a student, an entrepreneur, and exceptionally talented. Not only has Mary Kroetsch graduated from the Fibre Arts program at HSTA in 2004, but she has also expanded her horizons with courses from George Brown, the New Brunswick Arts & Crafts College, and the Stratford Festival of the Arts. Her work is displayed internationally.

This week, we were lucky to catch up with her as she was preparing for the Big Art Book Digital Anthology Launch Party on March 1st

Better than anyone, Mary can tell you how important story-telling is to her; it inspires her, it shapes her artwork, it pulls people closer together and weaves a grand tapestry of nostalgia. 

And so her story begins, not with “once-upon-a-time” as so many stories do, but with a sewing class. Yes, that’s right, a sewing class. At the tender age of ten years-old, Kroetsch’s mother enrolled her in a sewing class, never dreaming that it would become a life-long passion for her daughter. Her father, an amateur photographer, has also greatly influenced Mary’s work. “It is the 100 plus years of forgotten family life in the albums and shoe boxes I have in my possession, that spurs me on to reclaim forgotten memories,” Kroetsch shares. “By bringing memories out of the box and incorporating them into a contemporary art piece, I give the viewer permission to reach out and touch.”

And Please touch! No white gloves required! could be her war cry… She explains that textile art is often seen as fragile and precious; viewers are afraid to interact with the pieces. She urges viewers, however, to interact with her work. She carefully pulls us once more to the shoebox of inspiration: “Our memories are fragile and precious, too. If we don’t constantly, and lovingly, fondle memories, they soon become forgotten in an old shoebox.” She wants viewers to know that art is both friendly and accessible; it can result in an amazing experience for all involved, from artist to gallery-goer.

Over the past few years, Kroetsch has had the privilege of installing some exceptional and interactive pieces. One of them, The Fractoral Heart project, allowed people to spend time walking the emotional labyrinth she created – contemplating and remembering the emotions that made them smile and hurt. Another, titled the Take a Memory – Leave a Memory project, required that visitors be gifted with a photographic memory in exchange for a letter sharing a personal remembrance, inspired by the photograph.

She reveals that her glorious plan to “make it big” in the Art World within five years of graduating at the college, didn’t quite work out. Priorities have changed, experimental directions were taken and now she quite simply says, “I make art – full stop. I [don’t] want my work to be categorized as Fine Craft or Textile Art.” And in such a competitive industry, labels are a dime a dozen.

Her parting thoughts to us are, in fact, advice for any art student: aspiring, current, or graduated:

“Don’t waste the education you are getting with HSTA.  It is easy to be disillusioned by a teacher you don’t care for or even distracted by a topic you feel has no value to your art form.  Everything that is being shared with you has value – if not now – then later. And ask questions.  Your teachers are working Artists.  Try and coax their secrets for their success out of them.  It might save you some time if you are looking to make art your life.”

 

ImageTo see more about the Big Art Book, go to http://scarborougharts.com/2012/03/big-art-book/

For more information about the artist, please visit Mary’s website at www.textile_mixedmedia_artist.cachelan.com/

She can also be reached via phone at 519-265-0666, as well as by email at talisman-fibre-arts@live.ca

Artist of the Week – Ashley Kirby

February 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ashley Kirby

Her jewellery journey began in 6th grade when she purchased a Fimo bead and hemp bracelet how-to book. By tenth grade, she was already selling her jewellery at a flea market just outside of Parry Sound. Before the end of high school, she’d “tried it all” – as much as any eighteen year-old can delve into… Hemp, gimp, beading, weaving… She even took a drawing and painting class here and there.

Now, a two-time graduate of HSTA’s Certificate programs, she’s begun to bring it all together: years slaving away making knotted jewellery trained her for the complex wire knots and beaded masses that she calls rings. “Almost all of the rings are one single piece of wire, woven in and out with beads, pearls, and crystal. Each ring tends to take on a life of its own. I generally let the beads and the wire dictate to me how the ring will be shaped. It makes every single one unique.”

And indeed they are. From cocktail parties to everyday fun, the bright colours and one-of-a-kind construction certainly make for a great piece. “I started off with the idea of having a ‘Champagne Collection’; you know, mostly bridal and black-tie bijoux. But, I just couldn’t resist the colours… Whether I wear it with jeans or a fancy dress, just wearing one of the rings brightens my mood.” Not that her mood needs much brightening, when she attended HSTA she was always caught with a smile on her face. Best of all, this young woman is proof positive that a particular area of study, does not dictate what medium an artist works in. Her areas of study? Blacksmithing and Photo Arts…

“Well, when I took the blacksmithing program,” she explains, “mostly it was because I’ve always been drawn to history prior to about 1900. I’m the sort of person that still seals envelopes with wax when I send letters to my friends.” She sends letters? Like in the actual mail with stamps? “As for the photography… well, I’d always wanted to take photography in high school and simply never had the chance… So I came here to remedy that.”

Today, she blends (very) small-scale metalwork with various beads into delightfully colourful, fun, fresh, and elegant jewellery. And her camera is there to document it.

Ashley can create custom jewellery to match any occasion or taste, as well as size. Each piece is individually made. She can be reached at 226-929-6871 or visit her website at www.ank-designs.com where she can be reached via email.

Artist of the Week – Cassandra Hincks

February 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Cassandra Hincks

Art: it inpsires, it thrills, it liberates, it shares, and of course, it makes us feel. Feeling does not always come when you’re an observer; occasionally, art does not move people at all. But most often, it moves people differently. Three people all looking at an apple see the apple in very different ways… But, when you’re looking at a painting of an apple, what do you feel then? The awe and wonder the artist has for such a delicious and beautiful fruit? Do you understand the loathing for a healthy snack, forced on the artist for years by health-conscious parents? Or perhaps, there is no feeling at all: a lifeless, wonderless piece of art?

This week’s Artist of the Week, Cassandra Hincks, offers to the viewer a true bevy of emotion. She evokes everything from whimsical fancy, to adventure, to the very stuff of a coulrophobe’s worst nightmares. The emotional journey this emerging artist can inspire is breathtaking… But how did she start?

Her journey began with horses, her first subjects, at a very young age. Their grace and majesty filled pages in her sketchbook as she was drawn into the world of art. “It then grew into a sort of therapy for me and helped me to forget about the world for a bit,” she explains. “It was something I could get lost in and just become completely focused on and I loved it.”

Needless to say, her focus was worth the effort, as her passion grew so, too, did her skill. She began to explore the minutist details of nature: water droplets on a leaf after a rainfall, a misty morning in the woods, the tufts of hair on a beloved cat. Her eye for detail became ever more attuned to the world around her. And what catches her eye serves as inspiration. It allows her the freedom to choose various subjects, to try new things and to explore the limits of what can be transferred to a canvas or a sheet of paper.

“My inspiration comes from many things, but mainly thoughts, experiences, and just random ideas that pop into my head. I’m pretty much just exploring everything that I can and trying to find myself as an artist as well as a person.”

No stranger to a small-town atmostphere, Hincks understood she was never meant for the “big city”. Raised in Nippissing, it was the quiet presence of nature that first drew her to the Haliburton School of the Arts: the intense dislike she feels for the fast-paced environment of city-life was not the ideal headspace for her…

While attending her program, Hincks explored the connection between fibre and painting, weaving the mediums together into intriguing compositions. “[At] school I learned so many things, it made it really hard to find a medium I absolutely love; I enjoy little things about them all so I combine them a lot  and switch back and forth. Right now, I’m exploring graphite on raw canvas and embroidery.”

And her explorations are certainly poignant: although the experience might differ for every viewer, there is no question that every viewer will certainly feel something when they experience Hinck’s works.

Cassandra can be contacted via email at cassandrahincks@hotmail.com .

To view more of her work, please go to www.cassandrahincks.weebly.com .

Artist of the Week – Brittney Howe

February 5, 2012 § 6 Comments

Brittney Howe

“I have always had a passion for horses and how they work: the muscle connecting to the ligaments, the ligaments to the bones. Creatures so strong yet so delicate, and yet they move with such grace. Power-driven hind quarters fuel their bodies with grace and finesse; they become like butter in your hands, all 1200 pounds melting together with you… When riding my horse, my heart is no longer following the rhythm of my body, but beats with his: we become one. Imagine the greatest moment of peace you’ve ever experienced, then, multiply that by a million, and you may begin to have a glimpse of the pure joy I receive from these majestic creatures.”

Originally from Delhi, Ontario, Brittney tells us she’d always had a gift for drawing. Intrigued after discussing various arts programs with a Rep from the Peterborough Campus, Brittney decided HSTA was the place for her. From the moment she set her steel-toe-booted foot on the concrete floor of the blacksmith shop, she knew exactly what she wanted in life: to be an artist.  Manipulating and forming metal utterly fascinated her, she says: “How it starts off hard, and once yellow-hot is malleable like clay; you’re able to do anything with it.” She realized that not only did she possess a gift for drawing, but also for 3-dimensional sculpture, in particular the noble equus. “Throughout this past year, I have been diligently studying the horse: uncovering every bone, exploring every muscle, revealing new forms to better express its complex anatomy,” explains Brittney. “My study has included multiple sketches and image transfers, and 3D sculptural creations of tile and clay.”

Being pushed out of her comfort zone, she says, was the best thing that ever happened to her. Exploring different materials, different mediums, allows her “free rein” over her creativity and boundless possibilities in her work. “Once I felt comfortable with my understanding of how the horse was made, I began to create sculptures of these magnificent creatures out of scrap metals such as brass, copper and mild steel. Just as my initial study of horses began, my works are finished in the same way: layer by layer, manipulating the various metals to lend shape and form..”

  After she has completed her Ceramics and Glassblowing courses next year, she plans on setting up her own mixed-media studio called “In His Image Creations Inc.”. Without jumping the gun, she reminds us that metal is where it all began. “Combining copper, brass and mild steel to create an abundance of colour fascinates me. To be able to fashion life from the various forms and shapes of scrap [metal] pieces… taking a bare substance, manipulating it with heat to mould and shape my work, and create life, gives me purpose.” But, glass and ceramics require heat as well – perhaps she’s on to something? We can only wait and wonder at what the promising Miss Howe can come up with next…

You can catch Brittney’s feature article in an upcoming issue of The Anvil’s Ring.

Brittney can be reached at 705-457-0207 or via email at bv.howe@hotmail.com

Fibre Arts Grad awarded and featured in 9th Annual Rural & Northern Art Show

December 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Fibre Arts graduate Hilary Omichinski’s corset was included in the 9th Annual Rural & Northern Art Show (Sept. 6 -Oct. 2nd 2011)as it was the winner of the Fibre Arts category at the Eastman Judged Art Exhibition held in Niverville, Manitoba.

Hilary studied Apparel Technolgy at Olds College in Olds, Alberta and Fibre Arts at the Haliburton School of The Arts, and she noted “the corset was a great way to amalgamate the two areas of study and bring them back to my home province.”

Hilary has since taught fibre dyeing classes at her former high school and used the corset as an example of how textile design and garment design may be combined.

Here is a link to the show.

Jewellery Essentials at HSTA

December 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

A piece of jewellery is evidence of the creative process. It embodies the technology, the medium, and the artist’s message in a work that can be pinpointed in time and place. As for the craft, one simply has to visit  shows such as the One of a Kind, or check out a local studio tour to recognize that artisanal jewellery is one of the most successful and growing areas in craft today!

HSTA offers the Jewellery Essentials Certificate in the winter semester, where students are encouraged to explore personal style in conjunction with developing the skills and techniques to design, fabricate, and finish basic jewellery forms. The 15-week program is delivered in an intensive format, and is the equivalent to two semesters of full-time studies. Studies in design, drawing, and history for jewellers provide a strong foundation for exploring fabrication, chain making, surface decoration, casting, forming and stone setting. In this certificate, students will be exposed to, and analyze jewellery from different eras and cultures, and encouraged allow these influences to integrate into their own original studio work. Design principles will be integrated into course activity in order to help students explore the challenges of form and function.

Students will learn to use hand tools competently in order to design and construct basic jewellery forms. Through technical and exploratory exercises and practice students will develop skills in the use of the polishing machine, flex shaft, drill press and oxygen / propane torch system with which they will anneal, solder, decorate and finish their forms. There will be a special emphasis on the appropriate use of shop equipment and the health and safety procedures essential to work practices in the jewellery studio. Special attention will be paid to the appropriate use, handling, storage and disposal of chemicals.

This course will further develop and strengthen techniques used in Jewellery Fabrication I & II as well as introduce advanced techniques requiring greater skill and accuracy. Specifically, these include the use and function of hinges and skill in making tubing from sheet metal. Students will develop further understanding of metal and its working properties to apply to assignments and or projects.

Students in the Jewellery Essentials Certificate will work with sterling silver, copper and brass. The chemistry of metals will be addressed while learning about various methods and techniques. Development of technique, personal style and expression will be facilitated by individual and group critiques and keeping a studio journal.

For more information on the Glassblowing certificate and how you can apply for 2012, contact program coordinator Jennifer Bain , jbain@flemingc.on.ca or by calling 705-457-1680 or visiting here (hsta.ca – jewellery essentials) for more information.

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