2012 in Review

2012 has been an excellent year for me.  Let’s recap.

The Institute of Morphoid Research at the Art Gallery of Calgary –  This was an amazing opportunity.  I showed some of the Morphoids in cages, and my ‘documentary,’ Morphopodia.  As an entertaining aside, a friend of mine has a young son who reports having made Morphoid environments in the AGC school when visiting the gallery.  It’s, and I quote, “a triceratops with feathers on it’s butt,” who eats eyeballs and seashells.

The AGC Artist Talk – I did a Q&A Style artist talk on December 6th, about my exhibition.  It was actually a lot of fun.  I quite enjoyed the Q&A style, as it was less formal, meant less prep work for me, and therefore was less stressful to prepare for.  I was excited about it, but not too worried about it, because there’s no subject I know more about than my work.

The New Alberta Contemporaries (at The Esker Foundation) – I felt very privileged to be a part of this exhibition- it was the first exhibition at the Esker Foundation, made up of 44 artists, recent graduates of the 4 schools in Alberta granting arts degrees (ACAD, the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, and the University of Lethbridge).  I also particularly enjoyed the opening, where I had an animatronic bacteriophage that I used to draw people into conversation with me.  (The looks on their faces were priceless….)

The Bacteriophage Dissection – This was a time intensive project, right from the beginning.  In 2011, in the St[art] Residency, I starting building Morphoid innards. It took quite a lot of thought and studio time to develop the structure for the insides and the Dissection.  (Come to think of it, I still need to ‘explain’ everything from that…)

Meet the Morphoids, my show at the Untitled Arts Society, is where I started on the informational panel idea.  I have also used this in the AGC show, and will likely use more in the future.

I’ve been working for the Alberta Society of Artists as their Artistic Coordinator since January 2012.  I’ve learned a ton, met a lot of interesting and wonderful artists, and have worked on quite a few interesting projects.

Also of note this year, is doing the cover of the Hanna History Book and the Centennial (and drinking with my mother and other people in the cemetery), and the launching of the IMR Gift shop.

Up soon (hopefully), goals for 2013!


The Dissection!

I was so nervous leading up to the Dissection, which was exactly what I expected.  You know when you build something up so much in your mind, that it gets a little blown out of proportion?  What I didn’t expect is that the nervousness would last all of two seconds- after Caterina introduced me, and I started talking, all my nervousness just disappeared.  All the sudden it was just me and my friends and colleagues- people who I know through school, my job, and generally, the art scene in Calgary.  Thank you all for coming- it made my performance, having so many familiar faces there.

Now that it’s done, I can tell you a little more about it.  I had been keeping my thoughts about it under wraps, as I didn’t want to give away too many details before hand.  It seems that the Morphoids use what is in their environments to create their insides… although I am still not sure how exactly that works.

Caterina Pizanias, the curator of The New Alberta Contemporaries, introduced me.  After I had given a bit of an introduction, we jumped right in.  The first cut was the worst, I’m sure you could hear it from the street below.

After this point, I forgot to be nervous.  We discovered what was inside the Morphoid, a lot of the contents looked familiar.  There was a Cheezies wrapper, a medication bottle holding fluid, and bits and pieces of all kinds of things.

We got an up-close and personal look at all aspects of this creature, even it’s underside, which contained three broken plastic forks, working as teeth.

I passed around most of the components I found inside the Morphoid, so that people could have a look for themselves.

I was impressed with the questions from the audience- there were a lot of smart and thoughtful questions, and everyone was happy to play along- no one tried to throw me off.  (Or if they did, I deflected their attempts!)

I was happy to be have the opportunity to do this dissection- it is an important step for my practice.  The Esker Foundation has been great in supporting this, and Megan, my main contact there, has been awesome. The audience was spectacular- just the right size, and full of people who support me and my work.   I am now quite relieved that it is over (as it was a year in the making!), so now I can focus on the next thing- my upcoming exhibition at the Art Gallery of Calgary!

(There will also be a video at some point in the future, so keep an eye out for that!)

Photos by Angelique Gillespie.

…Three Days to go!

What’s inside, what’s inside?

The Bacteriophage Dissection is coming up in…. three days!  Yikes!

Well, it’s really not so bad.  I think I’m ready.  I just need to repair/ finish a couple of simple things, and maybe do one more run-through, and I should be ready to go.  Yesterday I picked up the last few things I need (I hope I’m not forgetting anything!).

This project has been more than a year in the making.  I met with the curator, Caterina, just as I was finishing up my BFA, the spring of 2011.  And here it is getting to the end of the summer of 2012.  While I’ve spent a lot of time on this, and like how it’s all come together, I’ll be glad to be finished with it, and move on to other things.  As always, I have way too many ideas compared to the energy I have to implement them with (which, I admit, is quite a lot).

In contrast, my show coming up at the Art Gallery of Calgary is almost ready.  The dissection is completely new material, and the AGC show is new material, but uses a lot of what I already have.  And I don’t know why this is, but as soon as I have a deadline for something, it’s the last thing I want to do.  It’s funny, because for friends of mine, a deadline is real motivation, but for me, it seems that by the time I’ve got the okay/ a venue for something, in my head, I’ve already moved on  and am super excited about the next thing.  I always get things done, but sometimes it seems more work than it would have been a few months earlier, when I was most excited about the idea.

Anyway, if you’re reading this, and you can come to the dissection, you should!  It will definitely be a unique event!

Trial Run of the Morphoid Dissection!

These are just a few of the photos I took while doing my primary run through of the Bacteriophage dissection.  Wanna see more?  Come to the performance!

There may be another trial run with a friend, to have her ask some questions and practice with that, now that I know what will/may be inside of a Morphoid.  I have to be prepared for all possibilities here!

A couple of days ago, I was starting to feel a little panicky with this coming up, as I still had a lot of questions and needed to do a run through.  Now that I’ve had a chance to do that, well, most* of it, I’m starting to feel excited about it!   I think if I have a general plan, and have a few ways of dealing with tricky questions, etc, I will be fine.  I’m anticipating the audience to be mostly people I know, either old friends, schoolmates, colleagues, the new friends I’ve made through exhibiting work and the ASA – the people who have been nothing but supportive of me, and all the craziness this sometimes entails, whether it be a dissection, an artist talk disguised as a conference presentation, hauling piles of equipment through Fish Creek Park (which reminds me, I should post the blooper reel), spilling 300 lbs of sand in the elevator at school (Did I tell you about that?  That’d make a good story for this blog), making you wear really uncomfortable things, building weirdly complicated structures in the driveway, etc, etc, etc.  Oh, and getting you tickets for parking the wrong way in a fire lane.  (Sorry, Brad.)

Anyway, working hard, looking forward to this!  (And I may have some big news coming up, just waiting for things to be “official”!)

The New Alberta Contemporaries!

The opening for The New Alberta Contemporaries was the other day at the Esker Foundation.  It was a spectacular event- they really pulled it all together in the end.  It was quite the opening, not only were there the 44 of us artists, curator, Esker staff, founder (Jim Hill) and guests, but there was a live band, and spectacular food.  I’ve never been to an opening quite like it.

As I managed to pull together an “animated” Morphoid, the other day, I brought it along to the opening.  Wearing my labcoat and passing around the Morphoid was an excellent way to start a conversation with people.  (I also love the lab coat for openings because the pockets are perfect for postcards and brochures, and so I’m not holding them all night, but have them when I need them.)  Most people were unsure about holding the Morphoid- some asked me if it would shock them or bite them or something.  It would, however, make noises, and/or vibrate when I rolled it into people’s hands.  Seeing the surprised looks on their faces was half of the fun of the evening.

I’m glad I pulled that together, although it wasn’t really planned- I wasn’t really intent on it.  The other day, I just felt like working on it, as I’ve been playing with it for a while. When it finally worked, I thought the timing couldn’t be better- it was meant to be.  And then I had no excuse not to bring it; I remember Caterina (the curator of The New Alberta Contemporaries) calling me audacious, and so, of course, I had to have the balls to bring it, and it actually worked throughout the whole evening.  Still working, actually, which I am finding quite amazing.

The construction is quite complicated- more than you would think.  And since I can’t solder (which I now realize may have been one of the reasons I decided not to major in jewellery), everything is taped together, and then sewn right into the Morphoid.  This sounds easy, but when you’re inserting a circuit and a motor into a stuffed thing, you can’t just throw it in there and expect it to work. The pressure of the stuffing on the motor was enough to cause it not to work.  I rigged up a system with an off balance motor, with a container to protect the “rotation,” and stuffed everything (all the electronic components, including the full breadboard, two battery packs, and motor contraption, sensor, and then another circuit with the sound chip) inside, and sewed it all up, trying to avoid disconnecting things, too much pressure, and lumps in the wrong places.  In the end, it worked, and it worked well.  I was pleased.

I met a few artists whose names I know from around- a few of us seem to run in the same circles, although apparently not at the same time.  I talked with a few more artists that I sort of know, and am looking forward to getting to know better.  I talked with a few artists I know pretty well, namely, the ACAD crowd, which was fun, as always.

Overall, a spectacular evening.  The only thing I would have changed if I could have, would have been to make it a public opening- it was disappointing to have to tell people who were interested in going that they couldn’t, because I didn’t have another ticket.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos from the evening, but I’m sure a few will show up from friends/ the Esker.  Here is a short video  about Jim Hill’s vision for the Esker Foundation.

Stay tuned for the dissection!

A Bacteriophage Dissection!

A Bacteriophage Dissection (Postcard)

A Bacteriophage Dissection (Postcard)

This is the postcard for my upcoming dissection at the Esker Foundation!  My work is installed in their first exhibition, The New Alberta Contemporaries, which runs June 15th – August 29th.

The Dissection will be August 4th, 1:00PM, at the Esker Foundation…. I hope I’ll see you there!

Upcoming Event: A Bacteriophage Dissection!

As part of my work in The New Alberta Contemporaries, the first exhibition at the Esker Foundation, I am doing a performance. Here are details.

The Institute of Morphoid Research presents: A Bacteriophage Dissection

Join Institute of Morphoid Research specialist, Jennifer Akkermans, in exploring the inner workings of the Bacteriophages! This public dissection, happening at 1:00, August 4th, will be an instrumental event in the IMR’s research, being the first dissection in the history of the Institute. The public is invited to observe, ask questions,and get a unique, up-close look at these curious creatures. Bring your inquisitive mind, and, as always, a sense of humour!

For more information, and to learn what a Bacteriophage is, please visit InstituteOfMorphoidResearch.com.

The dissection will be happening August 4th, at 1:00PM, at the Esker Foundation, in Inglewood (Calgary).

(Now, back to work on this!)