Public Art: Sustainable Sculpture and Street Meet

Submitted by: Amanda Bosiak, Member Services

People attending the Cathedral Village Arts Festival in Regina last month might have noticed some strange and wonderful installations hugging otherwise normal trees on 13th Avenue.

Sustainable Sculpture Installation in Regina, May 2013
This riot of fabric and colour was a project for the Sustainable Approaches to 3-Dimensional Form at the University of Regina. The class (Sustainable Sculpture for short) is taught by artist Tamara Rusnak, who also received her Masters in Fine Art at the U of R in 2010.

Rusnak is a painter and sculpture, and a staunch believer in being mindful of the products we use on a daily basis. While working on her undergraduate degree in painting at UBC, she realized that while many artists are inspired by the natural world, they tend to use manufactured products to create their works of art. She was no exception to that, and in becoming more conscious of her own consumer consumption in her practice, began to find ways to reduce her environmental imprint as an artist. This led to the use of salvaged materials in the place of canvas, and creating her own paint with natural pigments derived from plants and minerals. Rusnak says, "There's a real pleasure in knowing where your materials come from."

The Craft Factor - Saskatchewan Handcraft Festival 10th Anniversary

Vol 8, No 3, Summer 1983

The 40th Annual Saskatchewan Handcraft Festival takes place this coming July 19-21, 2013

Leading up to this momentous occasion, on Talking Craft, we'll take a look back at the history of the Festival, beginning with this report from the 10th Annual Saskatchewan Handcraft Festival. The SHF has undergone many changes over the years, but the one thing that has remained constant, is the support from the Town of Battleford.

Excerpt from 10th Annual SHF Report
The Town of Battleford continues to provide the Alex Dillabough Centre to the SCC for no charge, including staff time, which is an investment worth thousands of dollars. This contributes greatly to the continued success of the Handcraft Festival.

Read the complete article ...

The Craft Factor - On Reviewing Craft

Vol 12, No 3, Fall 1987

The Craft Factor often featured reviews on current exhibits at the Saskatchewan Craft Council Gallery, or reviews on other exhibitions of craft by SCC members across the province. In this article from Susan Eckenwalder, the role of the review (and critiques in general) in the realm of craft is explored.

Excerpt from "On Reviewing Craft"
Eckenwalder discusses the need for reviews, as well as ways to review thoughtfully and respectfully.

Read the entire article ...

Celebrating the 30th DIMENSIONS exhibition organized by Saskatchewan Craft Council

Submitted by Vivian Orr, SCC Communications and Publications Coordinator

Premier's Prize Award for the Outstanding Entry in DIMENSIONS - Annemarie Buchmann-Gerber

Discover Saskatchewan's only open, juried touring exhibition of Fine Craft. Gain insight by viewing the DIMENSIONS Catalogue. It offers a wealth of information about the jurors, the jurors' statement, the history of DIMENSIONS, and the artists; photos of their work, details on the materials used, and artists’ statements.

In an effort to encourage thoughtful discussion and dialogue around the jurying process, the SCC invited artists whose work was submitted but not among the 35 selected for DIMENSIONS to participate in The Jury’s Out exhibition at Affinity Gallery. Two public discussions were held as part of The Jury’s Out and were natural extensions of talks that began with the DIMENSIONS jurors’ public critique session.
  • What does it mean to be a juror?
  • How are jurors selected?
  • What qualifies someone to be a juror, especially for DIMENSIONS?
  • How do the personal biases of a juror affect the selection process?
  • Would the pieces selected for DIMENSIONS be different if there were another set of jurors?
  • What process did this year’s jurors use to decide?
These questions lead to other discussions.
  • How can we improve the DIMENSIONS process?
  • How can we give artists who have submitted work more opportunity for one-on-one with the jurors?
In response to some of the discussions, the SCC is now considering several ideas for the next DIMENSIONS exhibition.
  • Allow only one submission per person. Will this result in higher quality work because individual artists will have to jury their potential submissions in advance?
  • By reducing the number of submissions there may be an opportunity for jurors to have short, one-on-one talks with the artists. Will this make approaching a juror less stressful and result in a meaningful critique and improve the work by the artist?
  • Keep the names of the jurors secret until after the jurying session. Will this prevent artists from tweaking their work to appeal to specific juror’s tastes or aesthetics?
At the end of the day DIMENSIONS is one of the very few juried exhibitions where the jurors have the privilege and enjoyment of viewing the work in person (not just from digital images). We are fortunate to have the opportunity to have our work judged by our peers in the Fine Craft world.

We invite you to continue the dialogue and submit your articles, essays or letters to the SCC. Address them to Amanda Bosiak at

Together we can ensure that DIMENSIONS continues to reflect the vitality of Saskatchewan’s Fine Craft community. As we go forward let us be prepared to embrace change.

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

~Margaret Mead

The views in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Saskatchewan Craft Council. The Saskatchewan Craft Council reserves the right to edit all content submitted to Talking Craft.

Culture Days - Invitation

Submitted by: Cindy Hoppe, Fibre Artist

Hello, Folks. I have promised Amanda to write a few blogs from time to time, so bear with me.  As a grandma who grew up in a family that preferred ‘show me’ to ‘tell me,’ I am not all that comfortable with revealing some of the thought that creeps across my brain pan in the creative process, but maybe if I get out of my comfort zone and learn to articulate what’s going on, who knows where that may lead? 

I just wanted to draw the craft community’s attention to something going on that SCC members may be interested in participating in. Sask Culture, which is funded through Sask Lotteries, is sponsoring Culture Days the last weekend of September.  Apparently there were grants available this year, although the deadline (May 15) has come and gone. The idea is to celebrate the wealth of cultural activity throughout the province and expose people to new activities or interests. The activities need to provide free access to people and the possibility of interaction or participation to engage the public. 

University of Saskatchewan, Museum of Antiquities
Culture Days 2012

Culture Days is a collaborative, pan-Canadian, annual initiative that aims to raise awareness, accessility, participation and engagement by all people in the cultural life of their local communities.

The Craft Factor - Saskatchewan Arts Board Part 3

Vol 15, No 1, Spring 1990

The final article in the series "Championing the Crafts - The Role of the Saskatchewan Arts Board in the Development of Crafts" covers 1968 - 1975 and the birth of the Saskatchewan Craft Council. This final installment was written by Brian Volke, a graduate of the U of R BFA program (in painting) and an accomplished musician.

Excerpt from Part 3 of "Championing the Crafts"

Read the complete article ...

Read Championing the Crafts Part 1
Read Championing the Crafts Part 2

Grant Writing Tips

... Or what the SCC staff wished they had known!

Submitted by: Vivian Orr, Communications & Publications Coordinator

SCC office personnel stepped up to the plate and with grim determination and their eyes fixed on potential money have researched, written and submitted six grant proposals in the last few months. Most of us have never written a grant proposal before. It was our desire to fund new projects, reach out to a larger community and create more opportunities for Saskatchewan fine craft artists that drove us on.

So far we have succeeded in getting a grant from the Creative Industries Transition Fund to establish a sales Boutique area (gallery gift shop) at Affinity Gallery. Needless to say competition for grant money is brutal so what follows is useful stuff to help all of us write better grants in the future.

Ontario Arts Council Grant Application Survival Guide (available online)

CARFAC Mentorship Program

Submitted by: Amanda Bosiak, Member Services

The CARFAC Saskatchewan Mentorship Program is the only program of its kind in Saskatchewan. Quite simply, the program partners experienced artists with new, emerging or mid-career artists. The goal of the program is to help build the skills and knowledge required for an artist to make art their full-time career. Post-secondary arts programs and art workshops, residencies and other educational opportunities for opportunities for artists tend to focus on the making of art, but not on the making of an artist.
The CARFAC Saskatchewan Mentorship Program at a glance

I won't go into a detailed description of the program, because CARFAC already does a very good job of explaining what it's all about. It is an excellent program, for both the mentors and mentees. Instead, I'd like to go over some things about the program that you may not know.

You can apply as an individual - either as a mentor or mentee - and CARFAC will do the matching for you. You CAN apply together as mentor/mentee and CARFAC will honour that match. Being "partnerless" is not an obstacle to applying.
  • There is no application form - You submit a Letter of Application and the deadline for 2013 is JUNE 17 (a little over a week and a half from now!)
  • You are matched based on the skills you can offer/want to learn rather than by medium. For example; you are a fibre artist and want to work on the conceptual approach to your work, and your art focuses on environmental sustainability, the best match for you may not be another fibre artist. Rather, you could be partnered with a photographer with a history of environmentally conscious body of work.
  • You and your match meet before the program goes into full swing. If you feel for whatever reason that it isn't the right match, CARFAC will re-match you.
  • The program is Mentee driven - meaning that the program is meant to meet the needs of the student. This also means that successful Mentee applicants are those that have a very clear idea of what they want to learn, and are demonstrably committed to a career in art.
  • Travel money is available to both the Mentor and the Mentee for group and regional meetings, as well as meeting with each other if the matched pair live in different communities. This is available above and beyond the core funding to both the Mentor and Mentee.
  • The program lasts for 10 months and requires a minimum of 7 hours a month for both the Mentor and Mentee to meet (primarily face to face, but also includes Skype or video conference, phone and email). In addition, there are 3 province wide group meetings with all Mentor/Mentee pairs. These include workshops and other professional building activities. Another 2 regional meetings (North Sask and South Sask) take place for things such as group critiques and studio visits.
  • CARFAC follows up with the Mentees three years after their participation in the program to help keep track of both the program's success and the participants success!
Professional art practices and knowledge of how to become self-sustaining as an artist are not the kind of things taught in a classroom. The CARFAC Mentorship Program is one of the most comprehensive mentorship programs of its kind. (CARFAC Saskatchewan actually mentored with other mentorship programs across Canada during its development!) An incredible number of SCC members have participated in the program over the past 10 years, including June Jacobs, Ken Wilkinson, Cindy Obuck, Rowan Pantel, Anita Rocamora, Paul La Pointe and many others.

Have you participated in the CARFAC Saskatchewan Mentorship Program (or any mentorship program)? How did it help you?

The Craft Factor - Saskatchewan Arts Board Part 2

Vol 14, No 1, Spring 1989

Part 2 of The Craft Factor's highlight on the Saskatchewan Arts Board "Championing the Crafts" ran in the Spring 1989 edition and was written by U of R Professor, Alexandra Wittock, and covered the second decade, from 1958 - 1968. Wittock chronicles the growth of art and craft organizations, as well as noting how different craft forms fared.

Excerpt from "Championing the Craft - The Second Decade"

Read the complete article ...

Read Championing the Crafts Part 1
Championing the Crafts Part 3 (June 12, 2013)

Artist Statements

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Gallery Assistant

There are two main types of artist statements: the project statement and the bio statement.  

The bio statement is a piece of writing that is a mini biography of an artist, which may be essential when applying for grants or gallery exhibitions. This type should generally be no longer than one page. 

The project statement is a short piece which accompanies a piece of art. An artist statement of this kind can add much to the presentation of one’s artwork in a gallery show.

"Nest Building VI" 2012, Ink on Blueprint
Monique Martin
From the Exhibition "Nest - Nest Egg - Empty Nest"
A multi-media exhibition focusing on the nest and its symbolic meanings: The nest egg as a symbol of financial largesse, the nest as a home as a place to raise children, and empty nest as the moving away of grown children is explored through the exhibition.

As a non-artist, I always read project statements to gain some understanding into what an artist was thinking when they created their piece. I also like to learn about how the piece was made, and this is something that’s even more important when you've made a piece of fine craft that may feature an uncommon technique. It should be noted that most craft techniques are new and different to a public who knows little about craft or the artistic process.