SACKVILLE, N.B. – Visitors to New Brunswick’s Fundy National Park will be able to enjoy the artwork of some of Mount Allison University fine arts students during the 2018 season. The exhibition Observe, respond., featuring work created in response to the park by photography and sculpture students opened recently at Fundy’s Westgate Information Centre.
Ten Mount Allison students from two third-year fine arts classes taught by Leah Garnett and Karen Stentaford worked on site-specific projects at Fundy National Park during the winter semester. After visiting Fundy National Park, a first for many, the students creatively developed art proposals that reflected their experience in the natural environment and their relationship to the park. Then throughout development, students worked alongside a Parks Canada Biologist, Indigenous guides, and environmental specialists in order to create their site-specific artworks.
“This experiential learning opportunity offers students the chance to work with an external organization,” says Stentaford, photography lecturer and technician at Mount Allison. “Through the project, they were able to engage in site-specific collaborative research, and to exhibit their work publicly in a professional context.”
All the students made at least one site visit to the park to develop project proposals and consulted with park staff about their research. In March, the entire group visited the park for a hands-on weekend work session. During this research-based weekend, students worked on proposed projects, guided by Garnett and Stentaford, as well as Fundy staff members. They continued their work on campus throughout the semester as part of their classes.
Mount Allison photography student Adrian Kiva participated in the class projects and similar ones previously. He says the Park experiences have let him try new things, but also bring some of those ideas back to explore in his work in Sackville.
“Connecting Mount Allison art projects to the world of the Fundy National Park enriches both organizations. It is more than just bringing art outside – it is bridging art and conservation, all while hopefully elevating the work done by Park staff,” says Kiva. “I have enjoyed seeing the collaboration grow over three years, from camping and hikes to a full art show. I think it is especially rewarding for students to gain an understanding of the process of creating commissioned work from beginning to end and then to present their work to an audience outside of the university and outside of the art world.”
This exhibition builds on already established relationship between Mount Allison and the national park. In 2017, students in Stentaford’s studies in site and place, open media course developed work in the Park for LandMarks2017, a nation-wide art initiative partnering artists, students and National Parks to commemorate Canada 150. In 2015 the Department of fine arts developed a partnership with Fundy for students to participate in hands-on weekend work sessions and exhibition opportunities in the park.
“Canada’s national parks are gateways to nature, adventure, and discovery and this partnership with Mount Allison University will inspire Canadians to experience the outdoors in a new and creative way,” says Julie LeBlanc, Parks Canada, field unit superintendent for Southern New Brunswick. “Through an artistic lens, Canadians are given the opportunity to experience nature and connect with conservation, Indigenous knowledge, and local culture.”
Artwork can be found in both the Alma and Point Wolfe Visitor Centres, as well as site specific work along Black Horse Trail. The student artists featured in this exhibition are:
Curtis Coombs: photography
Martha Elliott: photography
Grace McLean: floriography
Clara Platterson: wood carving and photography
Jennifer McKelvay: photography
Adrian Kiva: photography
Black Horse Trail
Veronica Kerrigan: audio
Sarah Noonan: installation
London Silver: installation
Agamemnon Kattis: installation