Skeleton Park Arts Festival (SPAF) is an annual Kingston summer solstice tradition. However, the circumstances of COVID-19 forced the team to alter their festival plans last year.
Now hosting their second iteration of their temporary public art exhibition, SPAF is presenting Next Door 2021 in the Skeleton Park neighbourhood.
The exhibition is running from Jun. 16 to Aug. 16 and features 26 Katarokwi/Kingston artists. Its 16 installations include paintings, sculptures, performance art, augmented reality, audio pieces, and interactive works.
Next Door Curator and Queen’s ArtSci alum Nicole Daniels met with The Journal to discuss the exhibition’s unique presentation of diverse art.
“There’s quite a variety of work, which is really fun, and I’d say intentional,” Daniels said. “It’s not the type of show that has a set theme. It’s the kind of show that really showcases the different types of artists we have here.”
This year’s artists were selected by a committee of representatives from SPAF and community organizations like KEYS, Central Public School, and Black Luck Collective to ensure adequate representation and equity.
“The whole process has aimed to present a fuller view of what our community looks like and be more representative of the community itself,” Daniels said.
She used a performance-based installation by Kemi King, ArtSci’21, as an example. The piece speaks to the experience of being a Black queer woman in an environment that lacks diversity in both BIPOC and LGBTQ+ representation.
King’s “Waterworks” discusses the detrimental stereotypes experienced by Black folks through audio alone.
“It’s really amazing that she was not only able to put together this wonderful performance, but also to translate that to audio, which I think is really stunning,” Daniels said.
One of SPAF’s major priorities has been drawing attention to overlooked community members—be it through featured artwork from incarcerated women in Abolition City’s “Neighbouring Tightwire”—or more indirectly through pieces like Clelia Scala’s exploration of the underappreciated members of our community’s ecosystem in “Micro Macro.”
Through its diverse selection of artists, installations, and topics, Next Door has given its contributors a flexible, judgement-free space to display their art publicly, while breaking away from the often-restrictive platforms put forth by traditional galleries.
“[Next Door] provides a platform for artists who might want to get into public art—to get that sort of stepping off point and be able to start getting that experience,” Daniels said.
SPAF hopes Next Door helps connect people to the artists in their community by giving them this shared communal experience.
“We have such a thriving art scene here and I hope people who maybe aren’t as close to that scene are able to see that and appreciate that and maybe feel a little bit closer to it,” she said.
Daniels also hopes to see members of the community join in on the unique display of art.
“What would make me the most happy is if we started seeing artworks popping up on people’s front lawns and hanging from their trees and in their doorways. I think that’s always been an internal hope for this exhibition on all of our parts.”
Information on Next Door can be found on SPAF’s website, including images and audio clips of installations.
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