You Can Never Go Home

My thesis exhibition for my MFA at the University of Waterloo is coming up VERY SOON- May 5 – 21, 2016, at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery!

About the exhibition:

Jennifer Akkermans / You Can Never Go Home / UWAG – Gallery Two

In the summer of 2014, Jennifer Akkermans packed everything she owned into her car and moved from Calgary to Waterloo. Since then, she has been attempting to build a home for herself in Ontario. You Can Never Go Home is a physical manifestation of this process. Torn between remembering her prairie home and attempting to acclimatize to a new place, Akkermans uses herself as a case study. Like some of the artworks in the exhibition, the process is incomplete. The obsessiveness and anxiety of the installation speaks to the discomfort and sense of discovery at the heart of her transition.

More info on the Waterloo Fine Arts website.

Returned from Europe!

20150712_141023

Returned!  Very happy to be home and back in the studio!

I returned from Europe one week ago, Friday the 10th.  Soon happy to be home, although Europe was wonderful!  I visited as many places as I could – Cologne, Barcelona, Vienna, Amsterdam, Venice, Brussels, London and Paris. Phew!

I saw lots of things- the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Manneken Pis, Park Guell, Cologne’s cathedral, etc, etc. and lots of art!  Lots of historical art in the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Tate Modern, Mumok, the Albertine, etc, etc, etc.  Marianne and I went to the Venice Biennale (which was awesome!)  I saw the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, shows of Joseph Cornell and Henry Darger, Tracey Emin, Egon Shiele, and many more interesting exhibitions.  I visited my family in the Netherlands, and an old friend in London.

It was a lovely trip.  Some highlights:

Beef Carpacho. Yum!
Beef Carpacho. Yum!
Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo
Crypt
Crypt
Crypt in Vienna
Crypt in Vienna
Venice
Venice
Ventian Laundry
Venetian Laundry
Venice Biennale
Venice Biennale
Venice Biennale
Venice Biennale
Rusty metal/ Belgian Chocolate
Rusty metal/ Belgian Chocolate
Belgian chocolates
Belgian chocolates
Me and Latifa
Me and Latifa
Me and Latifa
Me and Latifa
Riding the Carousel
Riding the Carousel
The Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatre
Highgate cemetery
Highgate cemetery
Highgate Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery
Sad Selfie at the grave of Karl Marx. Highgate cemetery, London.
Sad Selfie at the grave of Karl Marx. Highgate cemetery, London.
Pere Lachaise cemetery
Pere Lachaise cemetery
Parisian breakfast.
Parisian breakfast.
Creme Brule at Les 2 Moulins! (Amelie style!)
Creme Brule at Les 2 Moulins! (Amelie style!)

Koln (Cologne) !

20150517_055235_HDR

– The view from my bedroom window.  –

An important part of my MFA program at UWaterloo is the Shantz Internship.  I have chosen to work with Alexandra Bircken in Cologne (Koln), Germany. (Actually, if you click through to her site, that is the table I’ve been working at, right on the front page).

It’s been a little overwhelming, coming to Europe for the first time by myself.  I flew into Amsterdam on the 16th of May, and took the train to Koln, and Alexandra picked me up from the train station. She has been great, incredibly helpful, generous, and full of useful information.  But Europe has been an adjustment.  I mean, it’s been good, been interesting, but absolutely EVERYTHING is different than what I’m used to.  The language is different, the money is different, the food is different.  The LIGHTSWITCHES are different.  I can’t read German, so simple things like going to the grocery store or out to eat is a bit of a challenge.  The other day I bought a sandwich without knowing what kind it was, because I couldn’t read the label.  Turns out it was fried tuna (and delicious, lol).

And the jet lag.  Tough to adjust my circadian rhythm.  And because of the time difference, calling (skyping) home has been a challenge… missing Waterloo.  But I’m slowly settling in.

Here are some pictures from the first few days in Koln.  🙂

20150520_175618 20150521_143333_HDR 20150521_143320_HDR 20150516_103843_HDR 20150521_145647_HDR 20150521_131715_HDR 20150521_121048_HDR 20150521_112822_HDR 20150521_111256_HDR 20150521_110358_HDR 20150521_111248_HDR 20150519_064513_HDR 20150519_064503_HDR 20150517_121229_HDR 20150517_091448_HDR 20150517_041117_HDR 20150517_041132_HDR 20150517_041348_HDR 20150516_104014_HDR 20150516_103704_HDR 20150521_144125_HDR

(King Street, for you Waterloovians.)

20150521_111127

New York!

2

We went to New York.  It was a whirlwind.  I didn’t see anything really touristy (except for a quick ride on the carousel in Central Park), but I saw more art in three days than I have in the rest of my life.

3

Talking about art while taking a quick break at MOMA.

5

1

6

7

At the drag show.

9

10

Subway

8

11

Eating vegan(s).

MFA at the University of Waterloo!

Gushul_roof

 – Like snow sliding of the roof of the Gushul Studio, I am in transition. –

I haven’t mentioned it here yet for a few reasons, but I am moving to Ontario very soon- Waterloo, actually, to pursue my MFA at the University of Waterloo!  I am incredibly excited about it, yet, at the same time, it is very bittersweet.  There’s a lot of lasts happening right now, as I am committing to the move.  I will miss my wonderful life here, but know deep down inside that this is right, this is the next step.  I’ve gotta go, to see what’s in store for me yet.

Now that the initial excitement has worn off, I am getting nervous.  Not so much about being there (well, maybe a little), but about the big changes that are happening in my life.  I don’t know hardly anyone in Ontario, nevermind Waterloo.  I am nervous about getting everything arranged, so that I (hopefully!) don’t run into any big problems.  I’m nervous about packing up what I want to keep, take with me, and sell or give away.  I’m nervous about how I’m going to get rid of all my stuff.  (There’s nothing like moving across the country to realize how much stuff you have that you probably don’t need.)  And I’m in a weird place with my work right now- I will be just finishing up the animatronics project for the IMR before I go, and I’ve started on some new work, but at this point, I really don’t know what I’m doing yet.  (Which, I keep telling myself, is part of the journey of grad school- my work will change no matter what I’m doing now- I don’t have to have it all figured out.  In fact, it’s probably better if I don’t, although it’s really uncomfortable and against my nature for me to feel unprepared.)

The new MFA’s are ‘strongly encouraged’ to take advantage of the school studios when they become available in August, which I plan to do.  So I will have some time to get settled, and even make some work before the semester even begins.  I will be staying in a residence building just for graduate students, which I have already lined up for the beginning of August.  The time feels like too short and too fast all at once – this is actually happening!

Animatronic Morphoids!

IMG_8554

I’ve been awarded a production grant from the Alberta Foundation of the Arts, to develop some of the Morphoids into ‘living’ creatures over the next few months.  To do this, I am using Arduinos, electronic circuitry, servo motors, sensors, and developing the mechanics for the inside of the Morphoids to make them move and interact with their environment.  As you can imagine, this is a little complicated, so I’ve been starting with a lot of reading, and a few experiments.

IMG_8550

I’ve been playing with the Arduino, and servos, and using sensors to control them.  It’s quite the learning curve (but I can handle it).  The mechanical part is going to be a challenge too, especially since the Morphoids are soft.  I ran into an unexpected roadblock when I was trying this stuff before, in that the stuffing provided enough resistance inside to interfere with the motor. I will need to be aware of that, and figure out ways to get around it.  I’m up for the challenge.

IMG_8552

This is a project I’ve wanted to do for some time, but haven’t been able to find the time or money for materials, so the grant is much appreciated, especially in that sense.  The other nice thing about this project is that I see these skills being useful in future work- it’s a great time to focus on this and expand my skills.

You might remember this animatronic Morphoid from the opening of The New Alberta Contemporaries.

And this shows the internal circuitry.

I’ll be posting updates as I go, but I don’t know how interesting it will be until I’ve got something more concrete to show.  The goal is 3-5 animatronic Morphoids by the end of July. Stay tuned.