Self-Directed: Heather Cline: Quiet Stories from Canadian Places, November – December 2014

Heather Cline at work in the Ninfa Studio
Heather Cline at work in the Ninfa Studio

 

Artist Heather Cline, visiting from Regina Saskatchewan, is working on a project titled: Quiet Stories from Canadian Places.

Heather Cline was recently awarded the Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor’s Award in the Arts & Learning category.

About the Artist

Heather Cline lives and works in Regina, Saskatchewan. Growing up in the Saskatoon community of Sutherland, she witnessed a small town being consumed by a city. This limbo between prairie past and prairie present continues to inform her multi-media practice. Since completing her MFA at the University of Saskatchewan in 2001, Cline has continued to work in painting and new media, exploring narratives around place and personal history.

Cline has participated in multiple group exhibitions, with solo exhibitions at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, ON), the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon, and regional exhibition centers throughout Saskatchewan. She has also participated in a series of artist residences in Saskatchewan; and conducted workshops and lectures on a variety of topics throughout North America.

View some of Cline’s projects at: Inside/Outside Fan; and The Office of Identity Collection

Cline is represented by Mysteria Gallery

The Project

My practice is rooted in a collage approach to exploring history.  I am fascinated by simple everyday stories. I incorporate the anecdotes that people tell about their lives, along with images, text and memorabilia into my artwork.  In my recent work this activity has been related to place.

This started with an exhibition in 1999 ‘A-Z’ at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon, exploring the history of the communities that are a part of the alphabetical railway in Saskatchewan.  For this exhibition I used secondary sources- local histories and archival documents, ‘Pioneer Questionaires’, from the Saskatchewan Archives.  The activity renewed my interest in historiography and an exploration of how historical material is collected.  This led directly to the process that I am currently using in a series of community based projects.

These projects have been highly influenced by contemporary museum practice, the animation of history through interactive displays.  Sites like the Canadian War Museum, where Canada’s War Art collection is displayed along side historical analysis, artifacts and first person accounts.

Since 2009 I have been using new media as a key component of my collage method.  I collect stories through community engagement projects- record interviews of participants using audio and video recordings.  I then paint the sites referenced in selected stories and display the finished paintings alongside the edited media clips.

“As interviewer, photographer and videographer, Cline’s direct engagement with her ‘research subjects’ has both anthropological and performative elements and it is through both this gathering of multiple lived memories and then collaging them together on the canvas the Cline herself…reflects upon the dialectical problem- the clash of public and private histories.”  Jack Anderson, Exhibition Catalog, Art Gallery of Regina, Heather Cline Populating Veduta: Contemporary Cityscapes, Fall 2010

This work references how art has been influenced by officially constituted social history, through the exploration of history as an organic process of telling and re-telling.  Place documented through multiplicity of experience, revealing the complex social geography underlying cityscapes and landscapes.

I have started to describe the history I collect as ‘Quiet Stories’: they are recollections from everyday people who don’t think they’re important, but they are actually very important because their recollections create a different translation of the art for every person who views it.  I believe that it also opens a dialogue where the viewing public begins to reflect on their personal stories related to place.

I am creating a series of paintings and new media works, entitled Quiet Stories from Canadian Places, for a touring exhibition in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th. The first location for the project was Regina, SK. Paintings and videos from the project were exhibited at the Art Gallery of Regina in 2010 in an exhibition entitled ‘Populating Veduta- Contemporary Cityscapes’. The second site for the project was Oshawa, ON. This work was exhibited at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in 2012 (The Office of Identity Collection). Future sites include Vernon BC in November 2014 and Inglis Manitoba, 2014.

The series will be exhibited at the Dunlop Gallery in the spring of 2017 and I am planning on touring the work.  I am also seeking sites in other Canadian provinces to add to the project.  The exhibition will consist of a series of mid-sized acrylic on panel paintings (between roughly 24”x 48” to 40”x 60” in size) combined with strategically placed parabolic speakers (wall or ceiling mounted depending on the venue).  Audio works collected from people in the participating communities will play in relation to the painted works.  The stories are grouped in themes that relate to descriptions of places and activity in the communities.  To view some of the works created in Regina and Oshawa visit: http://clinequietcanada.blogspot.ca/.

For more information on this project contact Heather M. Cline at [email protected] or 306.530.3452

13th Ave. Safeway, Heather M. Cline, 2012 20” x 40” Acrylic/Canvas
13th Ave. Safeway, Heather M. Cline, 2012 20” x 40” Acrylic/Canvas

Artist-in-Residence:

During the residency portion of this project it is essential to connect with the general public. To facilitate the collection of stories I plan on setting up a small installation of 4-5 chairs in a public venue (this could be on a street or in a public space such as a civic center) and personally animate the installation, interacting with and interviewing the public. I would also be able to transport the installation to a local school and ideally other local gathering places. These sites would be pre-arranged and confirmed with the help of the gallery.

This format is based on a past residency project entitled ‘Home Made’. This project took place in a very public venue, the Regina Exhibition and the Saskatoon Exhibition in 2011. Chairs from various eras were set out and people were invited to sit down in their favourite chair to share a story about their first home. Participants signed a release form allowing for use of their photographic portrait and audio recording.

For ‘The Identity Collection…’ project the interview questions and process would result from my experience with ‘The Office of Identity’ installations in Regina and Oshawa. Participants will be asked several questions about their community and the places that are important to them within their community. Depending on the duration of the residency, I will photo document and start creating some painted sketches of the places that residences are describing. A longer residency will allow me to create an open to the public installation of images, stories and paintings, the visual archive of the project.

Oshawa ‘Roger’s Street’ 2012 24” x 24”
Oshawa ‘Roger’s Street’ 2012 24” x 24”

Gallery Exhibition:

The gallery exhibition will consist of a series of 15-20 mid-sized paintings (roughly between 16” x 24” and 24” x 36”, size and format will be impacted by the locale). The works are exhibited with the audio recordings of the stories that inspired the paintings. The audio will be mounted within a group of 3-4 paintings, using a simple 19” television unit or standalone audio unit, with headsets utilized to reduce competing audio (recently I have used mp3 players mounted into small display units a simple and effective audio tool).

The paintings on panel are nested and packed in a sturdy wooden crate and shipped using standard ground transport at minimal cost.

Artist Statement

When I was growing up my mom and dad each had very particular and unusual routes through the city. As I grew older I started to realize that they were also travelling the path of memory, the first apartment they rented, the ice cream shop they spent date nights in University, revisiting important places. As I travel through the spaces I occupy I find myself charting my own passages. Time and season blur, some routes become more favoured or disappear. Friends move, buildings are abandoned and sometimes even the bones of the street alter (one way traffic, bike lanes). What makes a place special; who determines the significant architecture of our lives. The intersections between place and memory, place as an aspect of identity.

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