Art Building Community was a project led by Roewan Crowe (IWGS) with Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art. A weekend of socially engaged art and dialogue, his interdisciplinary symposium hosted participatory and critical discussions, screenings, installations, interventions and performances. The project created a dynamic space for artists, activists, curators and cultural workers to gather to share new work and to discuss the ways in which art can be, and is being mobilized to build various kinds of communities. We explored the range of socially engaged art practices and the different kinds of communities that art builds. Together we asked: Is community art subversive? How does art engage with some of the most pressing issues of our times, such as poverty, the impacts of colonization, gender and racial inequalities, and the need to develop compassionate and caring communities of belonging? How does art engage the public in community issues and civic responsibilities? What can art build?
The Winnipeg Foundation and the Winnipeg Arts Council have joined this project by funding new work by nine Winnipeg artists. The work of Pat Aylesworth, Liz Garlicki, Cheyenne Henry, Kristin Nelson, Suzie Smith,Kathryn MacKenzie, Kerri-Lynn Reeves, Nicole Shimonek and Becky Thiessen was launched during the week of May 3. These artists created work representing a range of community, interventionist, cultural animation and new public genre art practices. The critically acclaimed, dynamic performance duo, Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, performed their new work, “Unruly.” Toronto artist, writer and activist Robin Pacific addressed the complications and challenges of community art practices. Her work includes community art, cultural animation and mapping, painting, multimedia, public art and installation. Internationally recognized artist Minerva Cuevas, joined the symposium from Mexico City. In search of an interface to activate social change, Minerva Cuevas’s work is based on interventions and political action linked to creative and artistic fields. In addition to joining the symposium , Minerva Cuervas also created new work while in Winnipeg.
The symposium was generously supported by the Winnipeg Arts Council, The Winnipeg Foundation and sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through a partnership with the University of Winnipeg’s Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies of the Global College.