Arts Umbrella + Capture Photography Festival Online Exhibit

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Latent Image sat down to talk with Roxanne Gagnon, Artist Director, Art & Design from Arts Umbrella to discuss their Summer Photography Intensive program that lead to the exhibit Location: Past, Present and Future , which is part of the 2020 Capture Photography Festival.

Latent Image (LI): Tell us about Arts Umbrella (AU) and your organizations Summer Intensive Program? Is each program thematic? How are students selected? Is there an age limit?

Roxanne Gagnon (RG): Arts Umbrella is a non-profit centre for arts education where young artist ages 2 – 22 cultivate their creativity in Dance, Theatre, and Art & Design.  We believe art is powerful, enough to change kids’ lives in incredible ways.  When young people connect with the arts, they gain self-confidence, develop self-discipline, and discover creative expression- qualities they can carry with them for life.

Summer Intensive Programs for Art & Design happen in August and are for 13 to 19 year olds year olds who are ready for an immersive program with depth and breathe within the discipline. The Summer Intensives range from Contemporary Art Practices, Architecture, Drawing and Painting to Photography. While some are juried programs that are for 15-19 yrs old, others like the photography intensive are an open program for 13-19 year olds that is all-inclusive who will work in the darkroom with a 35mm manual camera and in the MACLAB with a DSLR at Arts Umbrella on Granville Island. We supply all equipment and supplies for these programs.  Due to the current size of our darkroom. The ideal size of our class is 7 but we can take up to 10. Although I oversee the programs curriculum and content delivery as Artistic Director of Art & Design, it’s the lead artist team that truly brings all the projects to life. The inspiration and theme for the course was developed by lead artist Kristen Roos, who’s vision and practice is inspiring. This particular cohort was aged 14 to 17.

LI: How did AU become involved with Capture Photography Festival?

RG:In the very beginning, we had a meeting with Capture Photography’s founder Kim Spencer-Nairn and have participated every year since.  Our first exhibition was at the Remington Gallery in the downtown east side in 2015 that was celebrating our alumni in the discipline with film and digital photography. In 2018, we started to participate in two ways with Capture. One, a public installation as part of the Canada Line Project at the Olympic Village Skytrain. Second, a public exhibition with the students works

LI: Vancouver lends itself well to photography, it’s ever changing, tell us about the main idea behind the exhibit Location: Past, Present and Future? What do you want the viewer to take away from the project?

RG: I can’t talk about Location:Past, Present and Future without talking about the installation construct: past, present and future visions. The work was made all out of the summer intensive program where the students explored contrasting areas of Vancouver.  These emerging photographers created works on photo walks, representing both the past and present state of the city where the future was not so far away from the images captured.  Their future visions emerged through experiments in digital and physical manipulation in the studios.

The exhibition Location: Past, Present and Future, is curated to be a scaffold of  the installation and highlight more of the photographic work that the young artist did while exploring the city of Vancouver and the processes of what was included and excluded in both spaces.  The hopes of these projects is to have a connection between public, private spaces and reflect on the insight and abilities of young voices given an unique opportunity for public art and exhibition opportunity in their developing art practices.

LI: What classic and new technology techniques were used to create the images in Location: Past, Present and Future?

RG: The cohort worked in both the darkroom and MACLAB at Arts Umbrella.  Traditional film techniques were used from loading their own film, to developing the negative and print.  The same goes for the digital side of class using DSLR’s.  It’s when the two meet in the middle that the experimentation process begins.  Kristen Roos with Leah Perry’s ability to teach these students new ways of making by demonstrating manipulation techniques using reflections, movement, light sources and computer programs for the students to explore their own vision and expression with the theme resulted in the curated work for the installation and exhibition.

LI: The exhibit is currently on display at the Olympic Village Skytrain station in Vancouver, what is public art to you?

RG: The exhibition was intended to be on display at our Morgan Crossing location.  We have taken the exhibition online instead to showcase the other work the students did in relation to the theme they responded for the final installation at the Olympic Village skytrain station.  The installation is up from April to September 2020 as part of Capture Festival. 

Giving arts umbrella student’s the rare opportunity for public art in the city of Vancouver is unique for the age cohort we do and so important to give them the experience of it.  To create spaces for them to be supported and express themselves is why I do what I do.  Public Art to me is learning interventions weather temporary, permanent, big or small. These learning interventions are necessary and openly invited to my daily commutes, routines or life. A created space that is accessible to all and becomes part of a greater whole is something that has always resonates with me.

LI: Latent Image is primarily a film photography-based magazine, Vancouver has a strong photographic (and film) community, are many of the students AU sees in its programs experimenting with film photography?

RG: I hold film photography close to my heart and it has been a staple at Arts Umbrella, especially throughout our summer programs,  for the uniqueness that the darkroom allows students to connect with the medium from start to finish.  The new building on Granville Island will also have a darkroom to keep film photography a staple within our community and experience based learning through creative expression.

LI: What advice would you give an emerging young photographer?

RG: When I first started teaching analog photography with 35mm manuals years ago I would always say that you may only have one or two really great shots out of your roll.  Don’t expect every shot to be the one, instead keep on exploring through the lens and capture light the way you feel and see the world.  The image will show your vision through your process. Lastly, always keep your camera on you. You never know when that fleeting image, moment will happen.

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Sci Fi (2019) by Evan Muir

The skytrain installation is on display from April to September 2020. Also, the exhibition is now online due to COVID-19, you can view it HERE.

Follow both Arts Umbrella on Instragram to see their #AUathome & Capture Photo Fest for more online exhibits.

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