Looking Back….


It was an interesting year.  It was definitely a year of transition for me, of growth and learning, and though the year is done, I am not (really).

Let’s recap (in no particular order):

1) The biggest one for me this year, GRADUATION.

Feeling like all my hard work over the last five years has paid off, and at that moment, I was exactly where I should have been.  This was the right choice for me, and I know/ knew that it would be a difficult path sometimes, but I love the adventure, and the personal rewards and the community is a treasure.


Amazing! The experience was amazing, my studio mate was incredible- fun, smart, motivated, caring, and adventurous, and I learned a lot! It was great to feel validated as an artist, and to get to spend a whole month concerned about nothing but having an adventure and making work was incredible, a luxury I hope to have again sometime.  Definitely an amazing first artist residency experience in on of my favourite parts of the world, and not too far away from home. Trap/Door Artist Run Centre.

3) SPARK (Fluid Festival)

Undersense. By Veronica Benz and Jennifer Akkermans. Photo by Ron Checora.

The two week intensive collaborative residency taught me to trust my own decisions and those of my partner.  It was definitely a unique experience, resulting in a very interesting show.  I learned a lot about my own creative process, as well as that of others, and by the end of it, felt like I had made twelve new friends!  (And all the Happy Birthday texts showing up in one particularly memorable audience interaction piece was very sweet!)

4) Making my film, MORPHOPODIA through EMMEDIA.

Humongous project. I learned to use what I had access to.  EMMEDIA was great with the technical stuff- teaching me how to use the equipment and software to edit, and allowing me the opportunity to make the film, but, in all honesty, there is so much more involved in taking on a project like this.  Planning, writing scripts, finding and coordinating actors, volunteers and helpers (all of which have their own busy schedules), finding someone with a vehicle to move large amounts of equipment around reliably (more than I’m used to carrying on the train, anyway), setting up sets and scenes, adjusting lighting, sound, acting, editing, etc.

5) Terrarrium / International Festival of Animated Objects

This exhibition, in Stride‘s +15, was an opportunity for me to explore how the Morphoids would interact with eachother over a period of time.  The show was up for two months, February and March, I believe, and because it was part of the IFAO, I adjusted the exhibit twice a week, creating a storyline, like a very slow stop-motion animation. The personalities of the Morphoids came out, and there was an accident, resulting in one of the Morphoids getting eaten. (It’s funny, this seems like much longer ago, probably because I’ve done a lot since then.)

6) ArtaWEARness

A lesson in time management, depending on other people, and building things for the body.  In particular, this shoulder piece.  It was so complicated to get to sit in the right place and stand up, but I count it as an engineering success. (Model: Sara Girletz.)

7) St[art] Residency/ Calgary Allied Arts Foundation.

This is the last thing I have participated in this year, and I actually still have the space until January the 8th.  I used the two month residency in art central to do some drawings, develop some ideas for the insides and organs of some of the Morphoids, and I built a set and animated a Morphoid hatching.  A great opportunity to do something I would not have the space to do properly at home. Calgary Allied Arts Foundation


In terms of my practice, this year has been pretty amazing.  I made the transition from student to artist, showing work, looking for opportunities, and developing my practice.  I learned a lot, including learning to work with film and basic animation, modeling materials, constructing things from wood, etc, etc, etc.  There have of course been other cool things going on this year, but these are definitely the highlights.

I can only hope that next year yields as many opportunities!

Goodbye 2011!

(Hello 2012.)


St[art] Residency Starts!

I got the keys to my temporary space at Art Central, courtesy of the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation just this last Sunday.  Today being my day off, this morning I moved in some stuff to work with (what I could carry on the train), and spent the afternoon getting accustomed to the space and working.  It was a bit of a strange experience for me, telling myself, “Ok, here you go.  You’re going to stay in this space until 5:00, and work with what you’ve got here.”  Lately, I’ve been working on a lot of different things at once, it seems… a little here, a little there, ok, switch gears into soemthing else.  Today, though, I had my computer, and what I had brought with me.

So I organized what I had, and put stuff where I thought it should go.  Including postcards in the door and tools in the toolbox.

There’s a bit of a contrast between this and the space I have at home, isn’t there!  As much as I love my space at home, it isn’t great for some things, including animation, which I intend to use some of the time I have in this space for.  It is also not good for doing larger projects- drawings, building things, etc.  I am hoping to do some drawing here, and, if I get that far, making some “innards” to use for a dissection later on.

So today I worked with what I had. I couldn’t bring in everything in one go, because I was taking the train, and I also need to get a few things before I can do much in terms of the animation.  In the studio today, I did a bit of surgery on one of the Morphoids, Foraminifera, poor guy.   I sliced open one of his legs, to insert some armature wire into three of his legs, so I will have more control over them when I animate.  I had forgotten that I had stuffed him with polyester scraps from other Morphoids, and was surprised when I kept pulling colourful fabric out of him!

I also did the plan for the animation, or, what do they call it?  Storyline?  Anyway, I know what I’m wanting, just need to get a few things and go!

Today was a productive day.  Besides working at Art Central, I 1) got the photos I needed for the New Alberta Contemporaries exhibition, drew a diagram for the set up of that, packed it all up, including microscope, so it’s ready to deliver, and 2) scanned, photocopied, emailed and packaged the submission for the cover of Hanna’s Centennial history book,  3) worked on my plan and content for another show, coming up in February, 4) brainstormed content ideas for the IMR website, and 5) brainstormed ideas for my dissection/ what’s inside a Morphoid.

I have the space for the rest of November and all of December, and intend to be there Tuesday and Friday afternoons, 1-5 PM at minimum.  I’m hoping to also be there most Monday and Wednesday evenings, and the odd Saturday.  I will be having an opening on December 1st, in conjunction with Art Central’s First Thursday.

Stay tuned!

(Please excuse the photos.  They were taken with my phone, and I’m really not very good at holding it still enough to get a really clear photo.)

Morphopodia Screening Tomorrow!!

Just a reminder that if you want to see the finished version of the film, it will be playing tomorrow, Friday, September 16th, at 7:00 at the Plaza Theatre in Kensington, as part of Resonant Frequencies, Emmedia’s 2011 Production Access Screening.

Unfortunately, I won’t be there, as I am currently doing the Gushul Residency in the Crowsnest Pass (which is pretty AWESOME), and don’t have a vehicle, so…. I’m staying here.  If you do happen to go to the screening, please let me know how it went!  I’m sorry I’m going to miss it!

Here is a short clip of the film (which I believe I have posted before…). Enjoy!

Foraminifera from Jennifer Akkermans on Vimeo.

The Official Screening: Resonant Frequencies!

The Official Screening for EMMEDIA‘s Production Access Program Participants will be Friday, September 16th, at 7:00 at the Plaza Theatre in Kensington!

My film, Morphopodia: A Strange New World in Our Own Back Yard, will be showing, along with work from the other participants, including Rosanna Terracciano, Aran Wilkinson-Blanc, Laura Wayne, Teresa Tam, and Bogdan Cheta.

While the Gushul Residency is an amazing opportunity (and so far, an amazing experience), I am sad that I won’t get to see my film at the Plaza.  THAT would also be an amazing experience.

The event is FREE, and, from what I’ve seen of the other participants work, there will be a wide and wonderful range of work to be seen.  I wish I could go…

The Film is FINISHED!

Morphopodia: A Strange New World in Our Own Back Yard is FINISHED!  There are only a couple of little things that need to be done (as in, getting and adding logos from funders from EMMEDIA) and it is completely done!  At 18 minutes and 24 seconds, the thing is huge!  It was definitely a major undertaking, and I have realized that there is, in fact, a medium that is slower than textiles.  (I love fibre, but sometimes I wish it was a little more efficient.) Film is even less efficient….. 4 months of work to get 18 minutes of film.

But, overall, it is what I wanted, and I think it looks good for my first film.  There are definitely areas where I know my skill is not up to where I’d like it to be, but, over all, a success.  See what I mean below…

Anyway, here’s a clip!  In the finished film, there’s clips on most of the Morphoids, poop, bones, and eggs, eye witness accounts, and an interview with myself.  There’s only a couple things I didn’t get to do that I wished I could have… a Morphoid Petting Zoo, and the “Eggs” clip would have been better with the easter egg hunt footage, because as we all know, the Morphoids lay their eggs around Easter, and depend on small children mistaking the eggs for Easter eggs in order to migrate.  Anyway, Foraminifera.

Just in time, too…. I leave for Gushul in less than a week! Lots to do, lots to do!

Opportunity Knocks…. and wants to take me on a roadtrip!

New Mexican door. Photo by Yana Emasheva. (Fibre Field Trip 2010)

Speaking of the “Universe,” a great opportunity just landed in my lap!  The Gushul Studio Residency, offered through the Trap/Door Artist Run Centre in Lethbridge, which I had unsuccessfully applied for back in December, had one of the two original participating artists drop out!  And who did they offer the spot to?  Me!  And, what didn’t seem to be lucky (not seeming to be able to land a job) now seems really lucky!  If I was working full time, I don’t think I would have been able to take advantage of this incredible opportunity!

The residency will be for the whole month of September, in the Gushul Studio and Cottage in Blairmore, Alberta.  I will be paired with another artist, Latifa Pelletier-Ahmed, who is also from Calgary.  The spirit of the residency is collaboration, and I am definitely curious to see what happens with the two of us working together!

The thing with this being a little last minute, though, is that I will miss the EMMEDIA screening.  As my project is due the first of September, I will be fulfilling my part of the contract, but will miss the celebration.  Last year’s screening was held at the Plaza Theatre, here in Calgary, and it sounds like this year’s will be somewhere similar, if not the same venue.  I will be sad to miss that particular event, but I need to take advantage of this opportunity.

Stay tuned…. I’ll soon be off on an adventure! I’ve got 9 days to pull everything together!

Editing the IMR “Documentary”….. again!

I think the film might come out as “Morphopodia: A Strange New World In Our Own Back Yard.” I spent the day in the edit suite (AGAIN!), but things are really starting to come together! I have quite a few segments done, and a few yet to finish up, but things are getting there! Not totally done as much as I like, but if I had to quit the project now, I wouldn’t be too disappointed, if only I could out the segments I have together in their final order.

These are a few screenshots from clips I have mostly finished.

Sneak Preview/ Help me name the “Documentary”!

Here’s a sneak peek of a very tiny teensy weensy little part of the “documentary”….  this is a “big foot” video of one of the Morphoids.

I am also in dire need of a name for the “Documentary”!  I really can’t call it “Documentary,” because I don’t want the sarcasm to be so overt!  The name should be somewhat serious. I would definitely appreciate any ideas you have, even if you think they’re bad… you never know what it’ll spark!  So let’s hear ’em!

Here’s a little synopsis of the film, if that helps:

In (“The film formerly known as “Documentary”), the Institute of Morphoid Research profiles some of the creatures they work with (the Morphoids) and provides an insight into the work of the Institute. Narrated by the IMR’s Founder and Chief Researcher, Jennifer Akkermans, the film aims to share with the world the wonder of the Morphoid creatures, which Akkermans has been working with since 2010. The film shares more than solely the mandate of the IMR, featuring profiles on specific Morphoid species, footage of rare Morphoids, interviews with eye witnesses, and news clips of discoveries and public events, including a Morphoid petting zoo. The film aims to shed light on the phenomenon of the newly emerging Morphoids and the enthusiastic public interest surrounding them.

If you’d like more background info on the project, click here!

If you should so humour me as to send me suggestions, I may post a slightly bigger, slightly more interesting part of the “Documentary,” but I don’t want to give it all away, so…. suggestions please!

Starting to Edit the IMR Film!

Here’s a couple of screenshots from the film editing process…. it’s just as complicated as filming.  And now I have to figure out how to fix all my filming errors, or redo them!  This is from working on the Foraminifera video.  Hopefully I’ll be able to post something of a short video as a teaser soon!

Filming with Brad, the Poacher

Brad and I did some more filming today…. he’s going to be my “poacher” in the documentary, or maybe just a clip for the website.  That is undecided yet.  I think we got some fun footage, and this “hunting photo” of Brad and his kill.  Way to go Brad!  (That’s a weird tradition, hunting photos.  Discussion for another time, possibly.)