By: Andrew Mrozowski
From a very young age, Annette Paiement felt connected to the land she played on. It was this connection that would eventually lead her on a road to Hamilton, then on a solo drive to Northern Winnipeg and back home to share her experiences through the Where the Soul is Never Frozen exhibit.
“As a kid, I would leave the house first thing in the morning and wouldn’t come home until dusk… I loved to play in the forest, but always had a really strong connection to the water,” said Paiement.
Paiement grew up just west of Toronto and while nature was her calling, she pursued a degree in sculpture installation at the Ontario College of Arts and Design. On the side, she would take pictures and use them to influence whatever medium she was working with at the time.
She later moved to Hamilton in the early 2000s and became very involved with the arts and culture scene that the city had to offer, so much so that she hung up her camera as she started to pursue other opportunities.
“When I came to Hamilton, I really needed to reconnect to an environment that could allow me access to greenspace and water. It was for my peace of mind. I felt as if my soul yearned to be here,” said Paiement.
Paiement also found serenity hundreds of kilometers away in Northern Winnipeg, a place she has been travelling to for nearly twenty years.
“Every time I go, it is always about healing and through that time, I’ve been welcomed into the communities [in Sagkeeng, First Nation] and gratefully so. I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to participate in a number of different sacred ceremonies,” explained Paiement.
Following the passing of her mother and grandmother in 2016, Paiement went through a difficult time coming to terms with loss.
“At this particular time in my life, I helped to launch the Cotton Factory launch and didn’t take any time off. The Elders [in Sagkeeng, First Nation] invited me to [a climate change] summit, and I had just gotten my drivers license so I said I’d go. Without any intention of returning to Ontario I packed whatever I could fit into my Fiat and left,” explained Paiement.
Upon her arrival, she realized that the Elders cancelled the summit but invited her to stay with them.
While participating in various meetings and ceremonies with the Manitoba government and the Elders, Paiement would take time to drive around by herself in -50℃ weather. She would pick destinations and drove out to take pictures.
“There was just something about it that made me feel like I was suspended in this altered [reality]. The prairies are something so different. The expansion of the sky, the horizon and all of it flat and frozen? It’s something I can’t even express in words,” said Paiement.
It was only when the artist returned to Ontario that she decided to turn her photographs into an exhibit for all to experience. Where the Soul is Never Frozen is comprised of approximately ten photographs from Paiement’s journey.
“I see them more as a way to speak about a feeling or a land-based spiritual practice and an appreciation for nature,” explained Paiement.
Paiement utilized photography to capture, communicate and take viewers along with her on a healing journey through the frozen prairies. Each work of art has an energy that it gives off, easily transporting the viewer to Northern Winnipeg.
As Paiement’s art hangs on the Member’s Gallery walls of Centre for Print and Media Arts, she hopes that it’s legacy has a lasting effect on Hamiltonians and encourages others to connect with the land around them.
“It is my hope that people will say ‘let’s try hiking this weekend’ and they will take out their cameras and fall in love with nature. Hopefully they will say ‘why don’t I do this all the time?’,” said Paiement.
Where the Soul is Never Frozen is on display at Centre for Print and Media Arts at 173 James Street North until Feb. 2, 2019.
As the freezing cold wind twirled snow into the night air last Thursday, the inside of Centre for Print and Media Arts was filled with warmth. Chai was brewing and connections were being made as members of the community gathered inside for the first Zine Club meeting.
The free club is the first of its kind at Centre and is designed for zine creators, writers, artists and all others interested in the culture surrounding these DIY publications. The meetings are set for the second Thursday of every month.
The club coordinators are Centre program coordinator Sonali Menezes and administrative coordinator Mariel Rutherford. They had no idea what kind of turnout to expect for this first meeting and were overwhelmed as people continuously trickled in from the cold, quickly filling up the prepared seats.
The idea for the club was sparked by a desire to create a space for Hamilton’s zine creators, who often call themselves “zinesters”, and welcome them to the facilities at Centre.
“[I]t really came out of trying to engage with a younger membership and trying to show people what we offer… [S]ometimes Center as a printing house can be really intimidating to people who are younger so… we just want people to know that our doors are open,” Rutherford said.
However, it was not just a younger crowd that came through the doors on Jan. 10 but individuals of all ages. Nor were only zine creators interested. While some were zine artists like emerging artist-in-residence Laura K. Watson, others had never read a zine before or did not align themselves with an artistic form.
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The first meeting was structured to get everyone on the same page. After an introductory icebreaker, Menezes and Rutherford passed out various magazines. Together, the group made a list of themes present and feelings evoked. Flipping through, people repeatedly noted the presence of advertisements, advice championing success and models with “perfect” faces and bodies. People commented on how it made them feel broke and insecure.
Next Rutherford and Menezes handed out zines from Menezes’ personal library. The reactions were notably different as participants commented how the zines were diverse, inclusive, informative and funny.
The difference highlights what has drawn people to zines throughout its long history. Zines are traceable back to the science fiction fans of 1920s and 1930s. From the poets of the 1950s to punk movement members of the 1970s, individuals through the decades have been drawn to the idea of being able to share their own ideas in a DIY way.
It is also what has made Menezes and Rutherford zine creators themselves. Rutherford got started recently started making zines of her illustrations last year while Menezes has been making zines for the past seven years.
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“I got started in school… I just really caught on to zines and I just love making them. I love going to zine fairs and sharing zines with people and meeting zinesters. Zinesters are really nice people. Like the best way to make friends when you move to a city is to go to zine fair,” explained Menezes.
In the spirit of zine culture, the meeting was also very DIY. Rutherford and Menezes had participants create a list of what they wanted zine club to be. Ideas ranged from having question and answer, information and skill share sessions and workshops to hosting zine exchanges, hangouts and working on a collaborative zine.
When it finally came to creating at the end of the night, laughter echoed alongside the music playing in the background. The coordinators wanted participants to feel safe, creatively stimulated and supported while occupying the space.
“[W]e want to create… a space where people can find their niche. And like zines are very niche-y and they're very specific. Come find your niche! Like find the spot where you fit in... It's so nice connecting with other weirdos,” Menezes said.
Everyone created a page to be included in a collaborative zine. As neighbours shared glue, scissors and markers, they also shared their ideas and got to know one another. Each person brought their own talents to the page.
100 Word Copy: Centre for Print and Media Arts hosted the first meeting of its first Zine Club on Jan. 10. With a turnout larger than expected, the monthly club will continue to meet on the second Thursday of each month. It is a space for zinesters and those curious about zines to gather, work together and hang out. Will you be checking out the Zine Club?
By: Anastasia Gaykalova
Have you ever thought that science can become art? That the harsh lines separating the two can be blurred and made one? Well, that is just what the artists Nicole Clouston and Stephen Kelly have done with their works currently displayed at Centre for Print and Media Arts until Nov. 29.
Collecting 15 different samples of mud and water from various locations around the shore of Lake Ontario, Nicole Clouston, a practice-based researcher, let microbes grow and become a living art sculpture. Her work, Portrait of Lake Ontario, consists of 15 columns, arranged aesthetically as an image. Both the look of the sculpture and the process of its creation carries meaning.
“In themselves, they sort of form a landscape, a horizon in the piece itself, which I think relates to that landscape that they came from,” pointed out Clouston.
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[spacer height="20px"]The varying levels of water and mud and the different colours create unique dynamic art. An equally important part of the artwork is the process and care that goes into it. She tops up the columns with dechlorinated water and feeds the microbes eggshells, egg yolk and newspapers.
This care is meaningful to Clouston, as it creates a symbiosis relationship and a collaborative environment between her as an artist and the living organisms that make up her art. The complexity of this collaboration was the initial inspiration for this project.
“I was interested in the fact that microbial life is such an integral part of not only our own bodily function but the function of the environment,” explained Clouston.
She plans on continuing this work and exploring the intricacies of the relationship between Lake Ontario, its microbes and its people further.
“I needed to delve deeper into the relationship with one particular body of water and get to know it. So, what is coming up next is [that] I would drive around Lake Ontario again and collect another 15 [samples] and make another sculpture like this one. I’m kind of interested in this relationship between the two sculptures,” explained Clouston.
She has given her art life through microbes. This is not a static work of art, but one that lets itself change and create itself.
Similarly, Stephen Kelly has made computers evolve and adapt, giving art, science and biology a place to interact in unusual ways. His project which also can be considered research, is also a complex, dynamic work. This work consists of remotes that acquire energy of light and once they have enough they use it to twist cables that hang from each remote.
Through a communication network with a computer and each other, the remotes exchange information with a goal to devise a unique way of twisting the cable, evolving and learning from the ‘population’ of other remotes.
Kelly’s first work was devising code that adapted to beat ghosts in a well-known game of Pacman. Using a mechanism similar to that of natural selection, he got a computer to evolve its strategy.
“I guess I’m inspired by the possibilities of a combination of biology and computing, the idea of creating machines that can surprise me and behave in unpredictable ways,” explained Kelly
This approach introduces creativity and an element of scientific play and pure experimentation. Allowing the work to guide the artist, instead of the other way around, opens more opportunities and ways to explore. This is when the dichotomy of art versus science fails, forced to make room for a combination of both.
“It’s both equal parts… I think that the division between those two isn’t really that important. I think that they’re both creative processes that involve experimentation and play,” described Kelly.
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[spacer height="20px"]Kelly’s work is called Reality Gap. This refers to the difficulty of transferring real-world processes and experiences into computerized simulation and vice versa.
“I approach it as a sort of an engineering problem. The reality gap represents a problem to be solved; how do you bridge the gap between simulation and reality in the course of solving evolutionary computation,” explained Kelly.
The reality gap is a key discrepancy between reality and simulation that prevents machines from replicating natural performance. Overcoming this reality gap is a possible step towards artificial intelligence.
Art can be alive. It can make machines evolve and let microbes flourish in novel ways. Art can be dynamic, something that changes every day by itself and be independent of human involvement. You can experience this phenomenon through Portrait of Lake Ontario and Reality Gap.
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By: Kian Yousefi Kousha
As newcomers learn to make Hamilton their new home, Centre for Print and Media Arts has been dedicated to providing free arts programming as part of the [Nu]Links community arts project by [Nu]Links Coordinator, Hitoko Okada, and funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Many of the workshops have explored narratives around migration and settlement through diverse mediums.
These newcomers arrived to Hamilton with suitcases filled with valuable experiences waiting to be told. However, there aren’t many spaces dedicated to newcomers having a platform to express their point of view and most importantly, share their stories. After all, the art of storytelling is cathartic and can ultimately ease the adaptation of newcomers to their new home.
“The purpose of the project was to use the arts as a way for newcomers and refugees to access space in the Hamilton arts community and to decrease isolation. [I] directed programming to explore and facilitate collective and personal narratives instead of settlement integration into dominant white Canadian culture, which is often the approach around settlement programs,” explained Okada.
[spacer height="20px"]Okada also directed the program towards facilitating professional opportunities for emerging artists and art educators to develop their social practice. In the same manner, the [Nu]Links program were an opportunity to help newcomer art educators break down barriers towards practicing their work in Hamilton.
For Razan Samara, an undergraduate student at McMaster University, providing this platform and creating space for newcomer youths to explore storytelling was a crucial goal while designing a photography and writing workshop series. With an immense support from Hitoko Okada, and local artist, Sahra Soudi, the workshops took place throughout September and October and will culminate with a community arts exhibition on November Art Crawl.
[spacer height="20px"]The workshop attendees received the opportunity to attend photography, writing and editing presentations, go on a photo walk through downtown Hamilton and have a portrait studio session with professional photography equipment and do-it-yourself props.
Joan Carias, who took part in the [Nu]Links workshop believes that her photography skills had improved with the help of the feedback provided during the workshop. She’s excited to accept photography requests and start taking pictures of events. Carias found out about the [Nu]Links workshop by rummaging through piles of pamphlets at the YMCA.
“Perhaps there are more opportunities out there for newcomers but [they’re] not well posted…I think that [programs] should give attention [to] these opportunities and increase [accessibility to] applicants,” explained Carias.
[spacer height="20px"]In fact, there is a need in Hamilton for more accessible arts programming. Similar programs to [Nu]Links will make opportunities and resources accessible for everyone to push their creativity to the next level. This will also provide them with an avenue to share their stories.
“Newcomer narratives are often told through the frameworks of social workers, case managers, healthcare professionals and other institutional lenses. This program gives the space, facilitation and support for their stories to be told from their own voices,” explained Okada.
Centre  will showcase the works of workshop attendees through a community arts exhibit at 173 James Street North from Nov. 9 to Nov. 30. The opening reception will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday Nov. 9 during Art Crawl. The exhibit is an opportunity for the [Nu]Links attendees to experience Art Crawl while sharing their own photography and written works with the Hamilton community.
“The [Nu]Links youth programs have been some of our most engaging programs. The experience has brought the youths together to build creative community and belonging. In this exhibition, the youths share their world view and life as they see it and tell it. It is contemporary coming of age narratives in our current polarizing climate,” said Okada.
Note: Razan Samara, Arts and Culture Editor for the Silhouette, was involved with this project.
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