These two weavings were created as a virtual collaboration between artists Juliana Bedoya and Ralph Simpson, who both work with locally harvested plant fibres that they use mainly for weaving. After virtually visiting each other’s studio spaces and discussing the ecology and plant materials available in each location (Vancouver Island in the West Coast of Canada and Fredericton in the East Coast of Canada correspondingly) they each created a square woven piece that represented the territory where they reside. With these two pieces the artists are literally weaving their local landscapes using plants that reflect a communion with their natural surroundings, where the materials were harvested. With these two woven pieces they also make evident the materiality of the main two geographic locations where this artist residency took place both remotely and virtually.
This exhibition presents artwork culminating from a collaboration initiated through a remote-artist residency led by community-engaged environmental artist Juliana Bedoya in British Columbia and a diverse group of community participants from different geographic regions in New Brunswick. The project emerged from a partnership between the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) and the International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC) as part of their national FUTURES/forward mentorship program, which embeds community-engaged artists within organizations to address the pressing environmental issues of our times.
Participants were invited to join this remote residency to express, through art, their ideas and feelings about climate change. The group met weekly via Zoom to converse and discuss environmental issues from a global to a local perspective, and from there, to develop the concepts and pieces presented in this show. Through their work, the artists sought to inspire changes in behaviours in New Brunswick and to offer a space for reflection on ways we might repair our relationship with nature, partly by experiencing its healing power reflected in the artwork.
Varying in age, culture, and professional backgrounds, participants exchanged skills and navigated different mediums and technologies—including embroidery, paper mache, photography, rug hooking, video production, felting, weaving with plant materials, and more—to create individual pieces that are amalgamated into a collaborative narrative that takes visitors from a hopeless reality of climate change, destruction, and harm to an action-driven world where humans are inspired to change their habits to live in harmony with nature.
By creating awareness about the specific challenges that climate change poses in New Brunswick, such as increased flooding, summer droughts, decreasing biodiversity caused by human industry, etc., we hope to inspire New Brunswickers to adopt more thoughtful practices (buying local, tree planting and species restoration, habitat conservation, reducing and recycling packaging, etc.) that will mitigate or redress the negative impacts of climate change.
Visit the project page to learn more about this artist residency and culminating art exhibition: https://www.conservationcouncil.ca/from-harm-to-harmony/
This exhibition was presented at the UNB Art Centre in March 7-April 18, 2021.