The City of Saint John’s Artist in Residence program

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The Saint John Community Arts Board has welcomed three artists to participate in the City’s Artist in Residence program, which will see each artist explore and expand upon their creative process through various art mediums. 

What is the Artist in Residence program?

The Artist in Residence program emphasizes interactive community engagement and encourages artists to collaborate with the city, all while developing and advancing their art in a public setting.

Kate Wilcott, the Arts and Culture Coordinator for the City of Saint John and the staff lead for the Artist-in-Residence program, described where the program originated: “… the Arts Board has been facilitating a successful small grants program for almost two decades. First, however, the funds had to go to non-profits working with or incorporating artists into their programs.” 

She continued, “With the implementation of the residency program, the Arts Board gives money directly to the artists as a grant.”

The History of the “Artist in Residence” Program:

Kat Wilcott provided a brief history of previous Artists in Residence:

“The first Artist in Residence was Andre Haines, who worked out of the Market from December 2021 to March 2022. For his residency, he created works that he sold depicting the Market and the community of people who work there, as well as patrons. He also published three children’s books based on his time in the Market.

The next Artist in residence was Nathasha Pilotte, a visual and textile artist. She was selected based on her proposal to create a fable set in Rockwood Park, and the subsequent community engagement led to Nathasha developing a series of interpretive panels for the trail system, showcasing “Rocky.” She also created a larger-than-life marionette of Rocky, the creature of Rockwood, which was built in the Market.

Based on the success of these projects and the importance of encouraging the cross-section between supporting local artists and providing community engagement in the arts, the board earmarked funds for three artists-in-residence for the Winter/Spring season this year. 

After a call for applications in December 2022, Cassandra McLaughlin, Tracey Brown, and Amy Ash have been named the successful artists to join the program’s winter and spring portfolio.”

Artist Background: Cassandra McLaughlin

Cassandra McLaughlin is a multi-disciplinary, primarily self-taught artist whose favorite medium of art is embroidery and experimenting with textiles and other small free-hand designs. 

Cassandra described her journey as an artist saying, “… my love of creating started at a very young age. I pursued further education but found most joy when I started to embroider and create multimedia textiles and canvas pieces.”

Cassandra continued to explain their current project, “I am currently working on my proposal for the program, which is titled ‘Art-architecture,’ and its aspects are creating pieces that relate to our current modern time frame, collecting new views of our city, and creating timepieces that reflect our current flow of space within this world.”

Cassandra expressed her gratitude for the Artist in Residence program, “… it means a lot being chosen as one of the recipients, more than I can describe really. Being someone whose home plate is this particular area in the world is spectacular, especially the more I create certain pieces and thus have to learn more about these landmarks, places, and things to be able to capture them properly is enthralling.” 

Cassandra McLaughlin/Submitted

Artist Background: Tracey Brown

Tracey Brown is an acrylic artist who will create a series of urban landscapes in the uptown area, focusing on historic locations as part of her residency project, “Memories of Uptown.” 

Tracey described her current project, “I’m working on a series of 10-12 paintings featuring historic and interesting buildings in the Uptown/South End of Saint John. Timelapse videos are captured and shared through my social media accounts. As an artist, I am often privy to hearing memories from people looking at my work; I hope to capture some memories from the public and incorporate them into a final video for my residency.”

She appreciated this program, saying, “The program has been great. I’m a mother of two and so thankful this opportunity exists to further my skills and support my family. I’m looking forward to displaying the series together.”

Tracey Brown/Submitted

Tracey can be found at Queen Square Farmers Market on Sundays from 9-2 (opening Mother’s Day weekend), at Saint John City Market during the week, or on social media handles @traceyarted on Facebook and Instagram.

Artist Background: Amy Ash

Amy Ash is an interdisciplinary artist. Their project, Regrowth: Compelling Play, invites people to come together for a creative workshop in which the artist and the participants create and respond to prompts and share ideas.

Amy gave an insight into the development of their passion for art, “I’ve always been inquisitive and have loved art for as long as I can remember–all the way back to my earliest childhood. I’m very fortunate to have had this interest nurtured by my family, teachers, and community throughout my life, from childhood to the present.”

Amy described what they are currently working on, “I am working on a series of cyanotypes (old photographic printing process. Its chemistry can be applied onto paper or cloth (or any porous substrate), and when it is exposed to sunlight (UV), it will turn a vibrant blue), that relate to collective care, growth, and renewal.” 

Amy Ash/Submitted

Amy continued, “I use images of plants and other natural lifeforms and bodies, overlapping with images of people coming together. The images of people are all documentation from workshops and community events that I’ve orchestrated, and in most cases, they are in the process of doing a creative activity, like painting or making a wearable sculpture or some other creative action.”

Part of this series is currently on exhibition at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton. To learn more, click here. 

The art Amy is currently working on will be part of a June exhibition at Jones Gallery.

Amy expressed their gratitude for the program saying, “It is essential to me that this program exists because it validates a lot of the unseen, and often unpaid, labor that artists carry out in order to develop and create finished artworks. To have dedicated studio time to make work and refine ideas is invaluable, and that is what this program provides. It’s also really special to be able to do a residency within my own community. So often, artists travel great distances to participate in residency programs, but it’s really nice to be able to be supported in that way, right here at home. I’m incredibly grateful to be part of it!” 

Show these local artists some support by checking out and sharing their individual upcoming and current exhibits!

Kylie is a second year Arts student who plans on majoring in English. Most days when Kylie's not studying, she can be found reading, baking, drinking coffee, or talking about her three dogs. She's very passionate about education, human rights, and literature.