Building a community

Kingston Temporary Public Art project aims to challenge

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Artists have a responsibility to challenge and inspire people, and to engage communities in creative dialogue.

That has been the goal behind the Kingston Temporary Public Art Project, which began in December and will continue until Feb. 15.

“This is a City of Kingston initiative facilitated by the Kingston Arts Council, and we are striving to get Kingstonians to engage in dialogue about public art,” said Irina Skvortsova, the Cultural Animator for the Kingston Arts Council and the coordinator for this innovative project.

She said she believes that Kingston has a vibrant and thriving art culture with a mix of young emerging artists, as well as older, more established artists.

“We don’t however have a lot of mid-career artists as people go to Toronto to pursue their artistic careers if they want to establish themselves further. If we create more artistic opportunities in Kingston, and create public awareness, a lot of artists will stay in Kingston. That’s another reason we are pursuing this project,” she said.

The project kicked off on Dec. 15 with chant writer, singer and songwriter, Wendy Luella Perkins, who chanted in public locations such as the Frontenac Mall, the Grand Theatre Walkway and the Kingston General Hospital. She invited people to stop and admire the small things in life and the intricate details of beautiful moments that make life rich and fulfilling.

“Wendy’s piece was very powerful, and so is Mark Reinhart’s, which has received a lot of attention. He started duct taping buildings including the Duncan McArthur Hall on Queen’s University. He has given people the agency to participate in that project, and it’s exciting to see the city embracing public art,” Skvortsova said.

Mark Reinhart, who is currently studying in the Faculty of Education began installing his artwork in various locations in Kingston in early January, and will continue to do so till Feb. 15.

His inventive installation piece, titled Duct Tape, consists of painting various buildings in Kingston with coloured duct tape, creating an energetic vibrancy and artistic ebullience to people’s mundane realities.

“When I came to Queen’s this September, I started putting duct tape outside the Duncan McArthur Hall. I first got a feel of the architecture, and then decided to start putting the duct tape on the walls,” Reinhart, ConEd ’14, said. “It started to become interactive, and in the new year, I put up a sign that told other people that it’s their turn now.”

The interactive project has been a huge success, with students enthusiastically putting up duct tape on the walls of Duncan McArthur, allowing themselves to engage with the artwork and initiate stimulating dialogue.

“What inspired me to start this project was to reimagine the space we are in, in the hope that it might entice students to understand their artistic autonomy and act upon it, and it worked,” Reinhart said.

He feels he belongs to a community that is trying to keep art as part of an everyday conversation, and wants to empower all members of society to become artistic innovators.

“An artist is like a wallflower, quietly lurking in a corner, gauging the temperature of the cultural shifts in his society. And once the artist gets an idea, his role is to reveal the different structures and intersections that allow people to connect,” Reinhart said.

His advice to aspiring student artists at Queen’s is to choose to create artistic opportunities where different communities collide because that is the place where there is always great potential for visionary art.

“My advice is to be bold and brave, but also vulnerable. Don’t be scared to be different,” Reinhart said.

Just like Reinhart, Jane Kirby is another Queen’s student who believes that artists have a significant role to play in society, and strives to animate them to their proliferating realities.

Kirby, who is currently pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies, is also actively involved in the arts community in Kingston.

She is a teacher at Twisted Circus Acts, a Kingston based circus school and performance company that specialises in aerial acrobatics.

Kirby will give three performances, along with prolific trapeze artist Erin Ball who is the owner of the Twisted Circus Acts. The performance will consist of three acts, including one circus act, one fabric performance and three pieces of music.

“I have a dance background, and was always drawn towards performance art since I was a kid. I became interested in circus and aerial performances when I took a workshop on it. Since then, I have been addicted to it,” Kirby said.

She said Kingston is an amazing place to pursue art, and that the Public Art Project is an excellent way to bring people closer towards it, allowing artistic talent to evolve and thrive.

“Circus is something that is increasingly being recognized as an art form. Erin and I are the only two people performing aerial work in Kingston.

I believe we are making an innovative contribution to the art community here.

Five to 10 years from now, I see myself continuing to work as a teacher and performer and contributing to this radiating culture,” she said.

The Temporary Public Art Project will run until Feb. 14 , and consists of five projects in total. For more information, visit the Kingston Arts Council website. To access the Public Art survey, visit http://www.cityofkingston.ca/city-hall/get-involved/public-art

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