Multi-talented artist is learning from and giving back to the Hamilton community

C/O @clairitytarot

Clairandean Humphrey is a jack of all trades, but far from a master of none. The oracle card reader, artist and movement instructor reads tarot cards, draws, paints, makes video art, sings, writes songs, teaches yoga, Pilates and much more.

Throughout their life, Humphrey picked up and refined these different practices. In all their work, Humphrey is guided by the principle of affirming that they’re here.

“[T]here's so many stereotypes and tropes that see past a person's existence. We don't really get to know people because of prejudices and our biases. And so a lot of my work now is exploring and investigating anti-oppression and gender-inclusive language and understanding that it's always changing,” said Humphrey.

“[T]here's so many stereotypes and tropes that see past a person's existence. We don't really get to know people because of prejudices and our biases. And so a lot of my work now is exploring and investigating anti-oppression and gender-inclusive language and understanding that it's always changing,”

Clairandean Humphrey

Humphrey added that it is important for them to stay in conversation with others, adjust to the various nuances and be aware of the ways they are impacting others.

Awareness of this impact is especially important because of the multiple avenues through which Humphrey has interacted with the Hamilton community since moving to the city in 2019.

One of these avenues is through singing and songwriting. They grew up in a musical household and began writing songs in their early 20s. During the summer of 2019, they put together an extended play record, recording in it in a kitchen and an attic. In April 2020, they released the finished project called Moving in the Dark.

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“[The process of making the EP was] very scary and I didn't want to do it. But for some reason, I need to record this EP. It's sitting inside and it wants to get out, so it feels like a restlessness . . . [I recorded it] and then I sat on it. And then 2020 happened . . . I did a mini-concert online when it was big and hot on the internet. And it was just fun, even though I was nervous and felt terrified. It was just fun to express that and to put that in the world. And I feel like that was a part of my healing from going from Toronto to Hamilton and allowing myself to learn here,” said Humphrey.

"It was just fun to express that and to put that in the world. And I feel like that was a part of my healing from going from Toronto to Hamilton and allowing myself to learn here,”

CLAIRANDEAN HUMPHREY

However, music wasn’t the only practice that Humphrey grew in Hamilton. Much of their time has been devoted to their involvement with Pilates, yoga, and mindfulness studio, Goodbodyfeel.

While Humphrey has always been an active person, it was in their 20s that they began practising yoga. After getting out of a toxic relationship, they re-entered a movement practice more seriously. They joined Goodbodyfeel in 2018 and completed training with the studio in late 2019.

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Through Goodbodyfeel, Humphrey was introduced to trauma-informed movement and anti-oppressive wellness spaces. As an instructor with the studio, they teach a class exclusively for queer, trans and nonbinary folks and a Saturday morning class called Mantra + Movement + Mindfulness.

In this class, Humphrey pulls an oracle or tarot card at the beginning and then creates a mantra throughout this class. This class incorporates their role as a tarot card reader.

Humphrey was introduced to tarot through a partner who was also interested in the occult world. While living in Quebec for four years and learning French, they had the time to study the mythology and meanings of the cards. During this time, they also discovered they were a witch through understanding the uses of medicinal plants.

Now, through Clarity Tarot, Humphrey reads tarot for others. As with their movement practice, their tarot readings are trauma-informed, anti-oppressive and gender-inclusive. They are currently offering readings online through Zoom. In the past, they have also done readings at Hamilton store The Witch’s Fix.

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“[T]arot has done a lot for me, but it's kind of hard to put it in all in words in one shot. When you're talking about the intuitive arts, it can sound really like up there. I think what I do is try to make it more practical. It's in your mundane world. It's how you make your tea. It's having a conversation with a friend. There's spiritual moments in that, even just connecting with someone else. I think people think the spiritual is very far away [but] it's right where you're at. You don't have to look far and it's a lot simpler than you think,” explained Humphrey.

"There's spiritual moments in that, even just connecting with someone else. I think people think the spiritual is very far away [but] it's right where you're at. You don't have to look far and it's a lot simpler than you think,”

CLAIRANDEAN HUMPHREY

Currently, Humphrey is working on a number of projects. They are doing a number of trainings to deepen their understanding of trauma-informed movement, teaching movement to youth, anatomy, physiology and merging justice work with yoga.

They are also working on a number of art projects. They are organizing their works so they can begin sharing them with the public. They are also part of an art collective that is trying to get grants to create movement pieces.

As they have in their own life, Humphrey encourages students to go after the things that they want.

“If you are truly passionate about something or you're feeling intrigued by something, don't let anyone stop you. And don't let your doubts stop you. And it's not to say you're not going to have fears or doubts, but don't let it stop you from expressing what you need to express,” Humphrey said.

Photos C/O Courtney Downman

Courtney Downman is a glass artist operating out of the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga. Her work will be showcased at The Cotton Factory as part of the upcoming Work In Progress art exhibit. The exhibit will feature unfinished pieces from 13 artists. Downman says that much of her inspiration comes from the process of creation, which works well for an exhibit of partially finished work. 

“A lot of the time I’m inspired through the actual making process, which gives me new ideas as I’m creating,” said Downman. 

Downman’s work predominantly focuses on glass that has been carved down with a saw, meaning that the beginning of the piece looks drastically different from the end result.

“My first thought was to bring a piece that’s 60 per cent finished, because they look so different from when it starts as a complete bubble to where I cut it open and it becomes very jagged and you see the white from the saw lines, and then as I finish the last step it brings it all together. So, I was thinking of putting a piece out that’s just about halfway there to show the start to finish,” said Downman.

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Glass art is experiencing a rise in popularity at the moment. This is in part thanks to the hit Netflix competition show Blown Away, where glass artists compete to create pieces that match a given theme in a short period of time. Due to the difficulty of working with glass quickly, each competitor was assigned assistants from Sheridan College. Downman was one of the assistants, and she says she’s noticed a positive impact from the show.

“I think overall the community was really happy with the way that it brought exposure; [for] a lot of local studios the show has generated searches for handmade glass. People have been reaching out in local ways, which is kind of neat,” said Downman. “It was really neat as well to work behind the scenes without actually having to compete in the contest.” While glass art has always been popular, having a Netflix show has given it a wider platform than ever before.

The Work In Progress exhibit is being held at The Cotton Factory, a place dedicated to creating a sense of community amongst artists. Downman says that this community is why participating in art exhibits is one of her favourite parts of being an artist.

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“We spend so long working quietly, usually alone in our own studio, so it’s rare that we get a chance to show what we do in a way where we also get to socialize with other people that are like-minded. I love meeting the other artists at the shows because I find there’s always common ground to start with. I’ve had a lot of really cool friendships blossom out of doing different shows,” said Downman.

With 13 artists who are all specialized in different art mediums, there is sure to be something that interests you, whether that be glass, leather, paint or something else entirely. Artists will be standing by their work, so if you have any questions about their process, you can ask them right on the spot. If you find art that you love, they will also have completed works available for sale that you can take home with you.

Work In Progress will take place on Sunday Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. at the Cotton Factory (270 Sherman Ave. N.). Admission is free.

 

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Hamilton is increasingly becoming known as a haven for artists. This is demonstrated in the street art that has taken over the walls of the downtown core. Several of these pieces were created during Concrete Canvas, a visual arts festival that took place this past July. Each piece was painted legally and with permission from the city. Take this map along with you and go take in some of the art Hamilton has to offer!

Click a point on the map below to see some of the art!

 

Stop #1: 126 James St. South, “Gateway” by Vivian Rosas & Vesna Asanovic

This vibrant street mural is located on James Street, immediately next to the Hamilton Go Centre (36 Hunter St. E). It depicts different scenes from around the city through beautiful splashes of yellow, purple and orange. Scenes include hiking the Bruce Trail, walking along Art Crawl and eating pizza. It replaced an older, faded piece and is made of aluminum composite panels so that it can last for years to come. 

 

Stop #2: 103 John St. South, Angelo Mosca tribute by @scottanddestroy 

Scott McDonald is the lead curator of Concrete Canvas. His piece commemorates Angelo Mosca, a Canadian Football League player and professional wrestler known as King Kong Mosca or The Mighty Hercules. Mosca was a player for the Hamilton Tiger Cats and is in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. He is one of only a few players to have played in nine Grey Cup games. The painting is done in black, white and yellow to reflect the Tiger Cats colours, and shows Mosca running down the field.

 

Stop #3: 75-77 Hunter St. East, piece by @burnttoastcreative

This painting was done for Concrete Canvas by Burnt Toast Creative, also known as Canadian illustrator Scott Martin. It’s visible from blocks away with its blue sky and unique comic style. It sits directly opposite from the Angelo Mosca tribute and has an image of a giant hand holding someone aloft. If you're interested in his art style, you can see more of Martin's work on his website.

 

Stop #4: John Street and Jackson Street, parrot by @scottanddestroy 

This painting was also done by Scott McDonald. It features a colourful parrot that brightens up the otherwise grim parking lot and bus stop nearby. It is offset slightly by the Kings Pizza logo located immediately next to the beak. 

 

Stop #5: Main Street and John St. North, piece by @jordan_war  

This painting was done by Jordan Warmington, a tattoo artist at John Street Tattoo (179 John St. S). It was also done as a part of Concrete Canvas. It decorates the construction plywood that has been sitting unadorned for several years now. 

 

Stop #6: 81 King St. East, “Home Grown” by @luvsumone, @javid_jah and @danilotheartist

“Home Grown” was also done as a part of Concrete Canvas. It is located on the back of 81 King St. E, in a small alleyway. It features a house walking forward wearing boots. You can read more about this piece on @luvsumone's Instagram.

 

Stop #7: King Street East and Catherine Street, “Emanating Flash” by Kristofir Dean

This public art installation was created through the combined work of Effort Group, Scholar Properties Ltd. and the ARt Gallery of Hamilton. Dean is a contemporary artist and his work deals primarily in bright colours which can be found on display throughout the country, most notably at the Vancouver Mural in South Granville. You can read more about the piece on the installation itself.

 

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Photos By Kyle West

Since February of this year, local media artist, Vanessa Crosbie Ramsay, has devoted hours to hand-knitting and wrapping into a ball 9000 feet of Internet cable. This knitting and wrapping culminated when the 40 feet long by 12 feet wide structure was positioned outside last Thursday for Supercrawl, along with two giant, pink knitting needles.

The piece, entitled male-dominated, speaks to the underrepresentation of women in science,technology, engineering and math fields. The idea was sparked by friends of hers who had started a technology business and employed no women or people of colour. Aware that this problem is systemic, she wanted to create a piece that commented on it in an unexpected way.

“These types of companies hire less women and… when they have women that are hired, they're [in] pretty misogynist spaces a lot of the time. [M]y work in general grows out of feminist issues and this… is just a small way to contribute to bringing attention to an issue like that,” she explained.

In creating the piece, Ramsay considered what is historically ‘women’s work’. The cables wrapped together into a semblance of a yarn ball calls to mind a past where the majority of women did work as homemakers.

However, contrasted with the technological tint of the cables, she brings onlookers back to the present, reminding them that in 2018, a lot of women are getting degrees and holding jobs outside of the home. While women might still knit, as Ramsay did to create the piece, it isn’t necessarily all that women do.

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Ramsay herself is a good example of this. She attended York University, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a minor in English. She juggles multiple roles as an arts educator, a media artist, a visual artist, a filmmaker and more.

She works in a space where women historically have been shut out from. Earlier this year, when Ramsay won a City of Hamilton Media Arts Award, she felt it was important to use her speech to talk about the disappointing representation of women in art.

“[W]e need to give more opportunities for women. I know the art gallery is working on it. Hopefully the trickledown is that all…organizations are working on it, having more women, having more diverse representation of all different types of people, rather than just white dudes. There's some amazing women artists, even just in the city and we need to do more to celebrate that.”

Ramsay’s focus on intersectional feminism has defined the trajectory of her career. Following her graduation from York, she worked in television editing, but wasn’t happy with the portrayal of women in shows. Since 2010, she has been working in visual art, allowing her to express herself and her views. She currently has a feminist art collective named the DAV(e) Collective with two other professional artists.

I would like to see more friendly, inclusive, welcoming environments for women so [that] when they get jobs...they [would] want to stay in them. And the same in art. We just need more representation in all of these fields and safer [and] more inclusive spaces for women in general,” she explained.

There’s a definite need for more welcoming spaces in the art world where thoughtful artists like Ramsay can exist in. Unfortunately, her experiences as a woman in the art world run parallel to the experiences of women working in several different fields, including STEM.

Some days Ramsay is optimistic and some days she is not. She is encouraged by the progress that is being made towards creating better environments for women, but sees how slow this progress can be. There’s no doubt that her expansive piece and all the work that she has done is helping carve out the space she strives for.

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