On Sept. 28, coinciding with Culture Days, Winnipeg’s private and public art galleries—as well as other cultural institutions and installations in public spaces—will open to the public, and encourage viewers to hop from one spot to another, to take in as much art as possible. This event is called NUIT BLANCHE WINNIPEG, and festivities start as early as 10 a.m. and can last until 6:00 a.m. the following morning.
The event is growing and covering more ground every year: a new development is the curated series of instalments called Emerging Voices, which showcases five artists fresh from the University of Manitoba’s school of fine art. An open call was sent out to post-secondary students working in all mediums, finalists were chosen by a panel of three judges: Suzie Smith (artist, programming coordinator at Martha Street Studio), Paul Butler (artist, curator of contemporary art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery), and Collin Zipp (artist, acting co-director for Platform Centre).
“There is a really great range of work being presented by the artists, who all happen to be students from the U of M [within the] school of art, architecture, and interior design,” says Monica Lowe, co-chair of NUIT BLANCHE WINNIPEG. “Most of the works have some sort of sculptural element and encourage the audience to move around the piece to fully experience it.”
“[There are four] larger sculptural works: John Patterson’s ‘Flood’ involves running water and an antique car; Michelle Plamondon’s ‘Environment Revolt’ (to be installed at La Maison des artistes visuels francophones) explores the beauty and strength of Mother Nature reclaiming her space; Onilee Zaborniak’s ‘Micro Dwelling’ (hutK) is a mobile installation that challenges typical urban lifestyles; and the two-person team, JNZNBRK, are presenting ‘Propagate’ (RAW Gallery) [which is a] site-specific installation that explores light, surface, and spatial experience.”
Cara Mason, who graduated from the U of M’s BFA program in the spring of 2013, is the fifth finalist. As opposed to sculpture, her piece is an installation entitled “DBT in BPD” which involves a realistically painted self-portrait in oil, layered with a projection over a glass etching. The piece will be installed at the Exchange Community Church and speaks about Mason’s experience living with misdiagnoses of major depression and an anxiety disorder for six years, and her transition after being correctly diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
“The work references self-reflection and gestures of inward thought and experience. The layering of works further represents the feeling of slippage and the confusion often involved in dealing with mental health issues,” says Mason. “The feeling of anxiety versus calmness and the struggle I often have in balancing the two is an important theme in this work.”
While important, exposing new artists isn’t the only aim of Emerging Voices.
“Our presentation partner, Culture Days Manitoba, has generously provided the honorarium for each of the five finalists, [ . . . ] and is also providing the three cash prizes for Emerging Voices,” says Lowe.
“We are committed to providing artist fees to all artists selected in our open calls and encourage and expect that all venues presenting the works of artists will be providing them compensation.”