Burmis tree anaglyph_web

So, if you’ve been following me on Facebook at all, you might know that one of my goals this year was to get more rejection letters than last year, which I passed in early summer- June-ish.  Currently, I’m at more than 30 rejections, and until last week, ZERO acceptances.  I have two exhibitions coming up this year, but knew of both before January.  I haven’t posted many details about them yet, because I don’t like to post too much about any new projects until they’re confirmed, so as not to jinx them.  When I hit 30 rejections, without any acceptances, I decided that it was time to stop counting, as it was starting to undermine my confidence.

Anyway, my acceptance- I’ll be going back to the Gushul Studio in March!  I’m really looking forward to going back there, and wish I could leave next week!  I feel like I need the time to really focus on developing some new work.  I am finding that really difficult here in Calgary, working full time hours- by the time I get home from work, eat and maybe check my email, it’s almost 7:00, which means I’ll get two to 2 1/2 hours a night to work on my own stuff, if I’m lucky.  I am trying to get as much time in as I can, but it’s definitely a challenge to develop any momentum, making work, stepping back to contemplate it, adjusting, remaking. You know, the process.

Anyway, I’ll be going back to the Gushul Studio in March.  You might remember I was there before, in September of 2011, collaborating with a complete-stranger-turned-good-friend, Latifa Pelletier-Ahmed.  We were paired together, to work together, and through our experience made this piece, which we called Ephemeral Home.  While I wanted to go back together at some point, Latifa is not able to join me, as she is currently in England, pursuing a Master’s Degree in herbal medicine.  (Way to go, Latifa!)

My intention while I’m there is to really focus on two things: making work, and listening to myself.  I am going without a concrete plan, other than just to make things, and am really curious to see what happens.  I am intending to bring all kinds of materials, tools and supplies, whatever I can manage to fit into the Cruiser.  I will have no distractions there, no friends, no tv, no day job, so I’m hoping I will come out of it with some new-found wisdom.  We’ll see.

And, it’s one of my favorite places in the world.  And, the trains!!

Gushul Blog Book

The other thing I did recently was turn our Gushul Residency blog into a book!  It is mainly just a keepsake for Latifa and I, and I think it turned out pretty good! (Don’t worry, you’re not missing much- it’s all here!) It’s going to go on the shelf among my journals, as it seems to be the “Missing Journal,” because I didn’t journal (otherwise) during that period of time.

I am also thinking that sometime when I have time (ha ha), I’d like to turn this blog into a book as well.  Or a series of books.  It is turning into a bit of a journal for me as well, although not as personal as my physical books.  It would be good to have a physical document of it among my other books.

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.)


Ephemeral Home (The Last Post)

This is a partial video of the work we showed for the Open House in Blairmore, and at the Blueprint Gallery in Lethbridge.  It is a house we constructed out of scrap lumber, covered with white cotton, and projected images onto.  Latifa made the sound component, which emanates out from inside of the house.

Ephemeral Home documents our collaborative experience as artists-in-residence at the Gushul Studio, in the Crowsnest Pass, in September of 2011.  It has been our home away from home, both increasingly familiar and surreal.  As a collaborative experience living in close proximity with someone who was not so long ago a stranger, this installation documents our shared feelings and experiences as we relate to each other, and our new environment.

Thank you, Trap/Door, for the amazing opportunity!

Thank you especially to Mike, for orchestrating it all, and letting us stay at your house.

Also, thanks to Blueprint Gallery for hosting our show in Lethbridge!

A special thank you to Krisztina, Kristin, and everyone else we met in Blairmore!

And last, I’d like to say thank you to Latifa, for being so open and sharing, smart and entertaining, and a pleasure to be around.  I think I’ve made a good friend.

Arts Days in Lethbridge

Latifa installing the sound component

We showed our house at Blueprint Records as part of Lethbridge’s Art Days.  Here is Latifa installing the sound component of the work.

It was great to see all that was going on in the community for the Art’s Days weekend.  I particularly enjoyed our visit to the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.

Latifa’s Last Post

Well, I’m back at home. What an experience the Gushul has been. I am so thankful to TrapDoor for this wonderful opportunity. Thank you Mike as well for everything you’ve done. I feel a lot more confident about myself both as an artist and as a person. I have met a great friend (Jen). I have learned so much.
In Lethbridge I really enjoyed the SAAG (Southern Alberta Art Gallery). I would recommend looking at the video work of Amie Siegel. I really feel she is dealing with relevant contemporary issues.
At the moment many new opportunities are opening up for me as I enter the work force and concentrate on different aspects of my life.
On the art end, I am starting a new project using interviews I have collected and will continue to collect. I have a number of ideas for exciting new projects (top secret for the moment).

To conclude the blog on my end, I will let the following videos and photos speak for me :

My sister and I on top of the Livingston Range.

Detail 2

Jen when climbing Wedge Mountain

Me on the TOP!