Issue #9 | Fall/Winter 2007

Unpacking Prairie North

Last May at Prairie North, artist Edward Bader made a comment to the effect that the real impact of a residency like this one only begins to make itself known three to six months after it is over. He must be right. I’ve just crossed the three-month mark, and I feel like I’ve barely begun to process it all.

The Prairie North Creative Residency at Grande Prairie Regional College is two weeks of unstructured studio time in the company of some of the best artists around, and I was lucky enough to be able to participate in it this year. The whole experience was humbling, working in the presence of so many incredible artists. It was exciting, watching art emerge almost moment-by-moment at the hands of so many different people working with so many different approaches. It was a great time, getting to know each other over meals and coffees and laptops and campfires and glasses of wine. It was funny, as jokes developed almost organically, like mushrooms popping up all over the place at once. It was delicious – catered by Jeffrey’s Cafe every day. It was intense, as – for me anyway – this was a rare opportunity to make art uninterrupted by my life and supported by others who didn’t think that making art was an odd way to spend one’s vacation time. Or one’s life, for that matter.

So, what did I learn?

That if you’re an artist, then not making art is not an option. You’ve got to discover the art you came here to make, and make it. That knowing this, seeking out others who are on the same journey is, at the very least, validating. That being able to dedicate time to making art is an incredible gift, and that time spent getting to know the other artists is just as valuable. I came home from Prairie North with an incredible quietness in my head, something I rarely experience in my cacophonic brain and whirlwind life.

Thank you to the tireless organizers of Prairie North (Tina Martel and Ken Housego), to the gracious mentoring artists (Laura Vickerson, Harold Klunder), and to all of my fellow participants. It was a great ride!

Wendy Stefansson, Editor
Art of the Peace

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