The Airdrie Public Library’s (APL) 8th annual Voice & Vision Collaboration (VVC) paired local artists and writers together to create pieces inspired by each other’s work. The finished pieces will be on display at the APL from September through the end of October, with a gala unveiling event on Saturday, Sept. 23.
Here we feature the collaborations, Q&As with the creators, and showcase the pieces they created for VVC.
COLLABORATION 1: Artist ALESHA BUCNZY and Writer PATRICIA L. ATCHISON
Title of Submission Art Piece: Unseen Beauty
Title of Written Response Piece: Willy-Nilly Legacy
Q&A WITH ARTIST ALESHA BUCNZY
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes, I live in Airdrie but teach Art in Calgary.
Artist Style/Genre: Gosh, I can be all over the place from abstract to realism. It depends on what I am feeling.
Each project takes me in a different direction.
Bio in 200 words or less: I have been an artist since I could hold a crayon, my education started at Vancouver Community College where I took the Jewelry and Metals Diploma Program. Then I studied at ACAD, the Alberta College of Art and Design where I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art Degree with a Major in Jewellery and Metals. I currently pursue my love of the Arts by Instructing at Aliki’s Art House, Confederation 55 plus Activity Center in Calgary and working on new pieces. My creations deliver organic structures with a heavy influence of the invaluable existence of beauty and the hidden destruction that follows. When not doing her Art, you will find Alesha with her family, cooking, gardening or camping.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: For “Unseen Beauty” my inspiration came from getting my garden ready for summer and I stumbled across a poppy whose internal structure was still somewhat in contact and I thought it was beautiful. I decided to paint it. Usually during this process, I think about colors, details, size, backgrounds and this can go on for weeks. Gathering and sketching out thoughts and ideas. During the painting process, it constantly changes and I allow myself to go with the flow. I’d say my Art consumes me until I am finished. For “Joy” an image popped into my mind right after I had read Particias piece and I knew exactly what I wanted to paint. I looked for images of vases, cherry blossoms (popcorn shaped like) and Chinese red Lanterns. Then I just painted for days. Each painting process is different for me and that’s what I love about it
Title of Written Submission Piece: The Popcorn Man
Title of Response Art Piece: (Untitled) Pink Flower Stems in Blue & Yellow Vase with Red Lanterns hanging
Q&A WITH WRITER PATRICIA L. ATCHISON PATRICIA
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes.
Writer Style/Genre: Young Adult, Children’s, Inspirational
Bio in 200 words or less: Patricia L. Atchison embraces a writing passion that’s never wavered throughout her life. Her past endeavours include publishing the Canadian Teddy Bear News magazine before writing and publishing two children’s books and a gratitude journal. Her interest lies in writing for young adults, and she is currently querying the markets with book one of a fantasy portal novel series.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: I reflect on various experiences and mull over ideas and thoughts for a few days. Most of my inspiration for story ideas comes during the early morning hours, which makes me jump out of bed and run for a pad of paper. I enjoy the editing process and find that is where the real magic of the story comes together.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? Looking at and understanding the artist’s piece; why they created it, how their idea came to be. Then seeing if I could honour what they showed through their work in a piece of writing.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? I’m excited about the new library and hope the opportunity to promote and run more writerly educational workshops occurs. As Airdrie grows, I hope the writing community does too.
COLLABORATION 2: Artist ANITA SCHILL and Writer ANN EDALL-ROBSON
Title of Submission Art Piece: Ice Fall
Title of Written Response Piece: Not For The Taking
Q&A WITH ARTIST ANITA SCHILL
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes
Artist Style/Genre: Watercolour
Bio in 200 words or less: Anita Schill has spent over 30 years teaching and consulting in the fields of arboriculture and horticulture. Now retired, she is taking art training in drawing and watercolour. Her artistic inspirations originate from natural systems; from microscopic organisms to landscapes.
Please describe your inspiration and process creating your piece: The inspiration for Ice Fall originated from the book Gathering Moss. A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I researched photos of moss in caves and rock walls. I wanted to represent a secret piece of wilderness with sharp angular rocks with jutting projections and fast-flowing water; a harsh environment where only moss could establish. The colour choices evolved while I was painting; colours that I would not have initially chosen.
The inspiration for Surviving Memory. Every piece of wood has it’s life distinctively scripted into the cells and this memory survives for a considerable length of time, sometimes centuries, but will eventually be lost. My inspiration came from a photo I received from my son-in-law, who works in forested areas. The natural longitudinal trunk split was particularly interesting, rather than the cross-sectional cuts that we are most familiar with. My painting of the tree trunk is very detailed to represent the wood, bark and structure. Rather than a natural background of soil, grass, and woodland I chose an esoteric setting to portray loss or disappearance of the normal.
What was the most challenging aspect of the project? When I draw or paint, the subject matter is determined by me alone. Voice & Vision compels me to illustrate from someone else’s individual interests and visions. The challenge is significant. I now converse with other artists from Airdrie who provide me with encouragement and instill confidence. I now feel part of a community and I am growing as an artist.
What is your vision for Arts in Airdrie? One, Airdrie needs a permanent place where education can be provided exclusively for art. Currently there are no continuing education classes available, no workshops, no after school classes or summer camps for kids and teens, no daytime, evening or weekend offerings for adults and seniors. A permanent accommodation could offer drawing, watercolour, mixed media, acrylics and sculpture by providing classroom spaces, storage, etc. Two, Airdrie needs a place where artists can display their work. Once people see art systematically displayed by local artists, young and old, interest expands and people will inquire about what education is available for themselves, their children and grandchildren. I have been looking for art classes in Airdrie for years. My only choice is to attend drawing and watercolour classes in Calgary. To my surprise all of my art instructors in Calgary live in Airdrie! I would love to enrol my grandchildren in art classes.
Title of Written Submission Piece: Final Respects
Title of Response Art Piece: Surviving Memory
Q&A WITH WRITER ANN EDALL-ROBSON
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes
Writer Style/Genre: Cozy Mysteries, Children’s Books, Children’s Educational Books, Cookbooks
Bio in 200 words or less: Ann Edall-Robson grew up in ranch country. Her passion to keep the fast-disappearing Western heritage and rural lifestyle alive is evident in all of her creative pursuits. She is the author of the From Our Home To Yours cookbook series, the Barn Cat Buttons series of children’s reading and educational books, and the Brandi Westeron Mystery series. Ann resides in the foothills of Alberta where nature and the traditions of the West influences and inspires her work.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: The story Anita told about her work drew me to the land that inspired her painting. On that night, I knew what the title would be; but, I had several ideas for a story that I needed to investigate. Eventually, the magical place in need of protection became the story.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? Deciding whether I would write a factual non-fiction piece, or a lighter fiction story based on Anita’s inspiration and the backstory of her painting.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? To see Airdrie writers, both published and unpublished, showcased and promoted
COLLABORATION 3: Artist BRENDA WEEKS and Writer KELLY LAUZON
Title of Submission Art Piece: A Child’s Big Dream
Title of Written Response Piece: I Am Transcendence
Q&A WITH ARTIST BRENDA WEEKS
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes
Artist Style/Genre: Artist
Bio in 200 words or less: Brenda weeks is an Illustrator and a Graphic Designer. She has a passion and love for all things creative and strives to fulfil her career collaborating, learning, and participating in events that allow her to grow both professionally and personally. Brenda is traditionally trained as a painter and has created works in oil and acrylic as well as pen and ink, but has of late has taken to a more digital format to learn and explore new techniques and ideologies.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: As an illustrator, and an appreciator of art, one of my favourite subjects is portraits, especially those of children. There is something magical about the wonder in their eyes, and the innocence we all wish we could go back to as adults.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? Often the most challenging part of a project is getting started. Taking a thought and committing it to a piece of art. After that initial oh darn, I can’t find my motivation and inspiration comes a spark, a thought, and an idea and then a concept. Often for me this is the longest part of the process.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? I believe the arts are an enormous part of our culture and growth as individuals. Our ability to express thoughts and feelings with a specific talent brings life and vibrance to communities even when faced with difficult times. I would love nothing more than for arts to continue to grow and develop within Airdrie, so as to encourage our children and children’s children to be creative as well.
Title of Written Submission Piece: Desiderium
Title of Response Art Piece: Desiderium
Q&A WITH WRITER KELLY LAUZON
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes
Writer Style/Genre: Free Verse Poetry
Bio in 200 words or less: Writing has always been an emotional outlet for Kelly. As a poet, her work is often darker in nature, dealing with the real struggles we all face in this world. She began writing as a child to help deal with insomnia and has continued to find comfort in the process of spilling your soul on paper. Kelly is a mother of two beautiful kids and a librarian by day.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: When writing anything I will start with one word, or phrase that moves me in the moment and then I build a story/theme based on that. My poetry is often based on real life emotions and struggles, or the fragility of human existence.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? As with anytime in the past in this project, the hardest part is just taking time with the art and resting with it until some inspiration, meaning and emotion takes form.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? I see it as playing an integral role in building a successful community. Successful communities have well formed arts outlets for people to visit and be part of. It is an intangible piece of a healthy community.
COLLABORATION 4: Artist DEBORAH LAWTON and Writer JUDY DUFORT
Title of Submission Art Piece: Grief – Surrender
Title of Written Response Piece: To My Darling Husband
Q&A WITH ARTIST DEBORAH LAWTON (BFA, CZT)
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes
Artist Style/Genre: I’m primarily a mixed media artist & sculptor
Bio in 200 words or less: Deborah Lawton (BFA, CZT) studied art at the Alberta College of Art (1982) and at the University of Calgary. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture and a minor in Costume and Set Design (1988). In 2012, she was certified as the 5th CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher) practicing in Alberta. The same year she joined her late husband, Jim Nikiforuk, on the adventure of food truck owners/operators of Perogy Boyz. Jim passed away January 2022 and much of Deborah’s current work is exploring the process of working through grief.
Deborah has exhibited her sculptures in Alberta. Her work is in private collections in Western Canada. She has also designed and constructed costumes and sets for several local theatrical productions. For thirteen years she was the Production Designer for The Canadian Badlands Passion Play
Passionate about sharing the love of art with her community, she has been an active art teacher for 30+ years. Loving to encourage others to discover and pursue their hidden creativity, she firmly believes anyone can learn the skill of drawing and she uses several teaching methods to achieve amazing results. Deborah’s purpose and goal is to ‘Provide healing and wholeness through the Arts’.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: My first piece is an expression of one of the stages of grief, Surrender. Since my Soulmate and Husband died Jan/22, Grief has been my constant companion. It’s been very difficult to navigate life and the intensity of this kind of grief is like no other grief I’ve experience. I often see an image in my mind and then find a way to get it express it. My work has always been an expression of that which I am most connected to, so exploring grief through my creative practice was natural.
My response piece is probably the most difficult piece I’ve done in my career. Expressing anger has not been a safe experience for me in my past. When I heard Judy read her piece for the first time (This Brownie is not Chocolate) I was immediately connected to the anger expressed. I thought, “Man, I hope I don’t get that one.”. But it’s exactly what I drew from the ‘hat’. I took me weeks, thinking about the visuals expressed in Judy’s piece, wondering how I connected to them. It was when I was describing the piece to some of my adult students that it hit me. The persistent, annoying little thing disturbing the writer in the story was a gnome but it was cancer in my story. So I began working on the composition with sketches first, reference images of cancer cells and images of anger/rage. I avoided working on the final piece because I knew it was going to be extremely painful and vulnerable. When I finally got up enough courage I started by ‘attacking’ the paper with a large pencil and wrote whatever came to my mind about cancer and loss on the page. It was a very angry experience that eventually led to tears. I then began the process of building layers over those marks.
I’ve mostly worked in 3D(sculpting) over the years but last summer I ventured back into 2D (Drawing & Painting). My two pieces for V&V incorporate my love of texture by adding modeling paste to the paper. This method allows me to paint in a very similar way as I do when I’m finishing my sculptures. I also used varied mediums which allows me to create employing the strengths of each media. For example, using watercolour washes in the background gives me a subtle base to build over. I then build over those washes with layers of ink and coloured pencil, sometimes I may add oil pastel and/or soft pastels.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? The project of Voice & Vision has never been a challenge to me. In fact I’ve grown so much as an artist by collaborating with the writers. It’s a powerful experience. The challenge for me has been in being vulnerable and expressing what is often avoided in our society, Grief.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? I am passionate about sharing the arts with my community. I was employed by the City of Airdrie to teach art classes at Bert Church Theatre and we had a great start until the mandates associated with the pandemic shut it down. I’m hoping that more artists will come together to give voice to the need for a place for the arts to reside in Airdrie. I know many have tried in the past but we must keep trying until we have what is needed. My vision is an Arts Centre that can house classrooms for teaching all forms of art to all ages, studios for artists to work in, a gallery to share art with the community, even a small intimate theatre that can house performing artists and of course, a coffee shop for everyone to gather in. Art is healing to the soul, nourishing to the heart and offers a way to deeply connection to our community, don’t we all need more of that?!
Title of Written Submission Piece: This Brownie’s Not Chocolate
Title of Response Art Piece: Grief – Rage
Q&A WITH WRITER JUDY DUFORT
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes. We moved to Airdrie from Montreal, Quebec in 2004.
Writer Style/Genre: Writer: Fantasy
Bio in 200 words or less: Judy is a new writer and long-time reader. She is retired and relishes time with her husband and spoiled cat when not reading and writing. She enjoys the work of Baldacci and Berry to name a few. Judy received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology, Bachelor of Education Degree, and Human Resources Management Development Certificate from The University of Calgary. She has taken several courses in the MBA program from Aspen University and continues her studies in her favorite topic abnormal human behavior. Judy has recently finished her first horror piece entitled “Jessikka” and is hopeful to have it published.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: This Brownie Is Not Chocolate- My Grandmother was my best friend and she inspired this piece. I had been missing my Grandmother, and thinking about her when this memory came to mind; it made me chuckle. When the Cabbage Patch dolls arrived on the scene in the early 1980’s my Grandmother referred to them as “pig-ass face dolls”. So, in memory of my Grandmother, I give you “pig-ass face”. And when you see your next Cabbage Patch Doll, I hope you enjoy the chuckle.
To My Darling Husband-Deborah’s painting of the wave of pain and grief washing over the figure reminded me of my husband and the anguish he had been experiencing. Several years ago I required surgery for the removal of a 6 pound tumor. I believed I would have not survived the surgery and if I did I would not survive the months of recovery. If I had passed away how could I have reached out to my husband in his grief? The piece “To My Darling Husband” was my response.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? The most challenging aspect of this project was to put together a 250 word prose that included “pig-ass face”.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? An Artist in Residence at the Airdrie Public Library. A writing centre at the Airdrie Public Library to serve members of the surrounding community by offering programs and services for writers of all skill levels.
COLLABORATION 5: Artist KARIN EDWARDS and Writer SHEILA E. HUMPHREY
Title of Submission Art Piece: Speak Life
Title of Written Response Piece: Ascendancy
Q&A WITH ARTIST KARIN EDWARDS
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes
Bio in 200 words or less: For the past 7 years, I have started to narrow my focus of creative skills to acrylic painting. The journey of art started at a young age with an art teacher who lived down the street from our house growing up. But it was seven years ago that my brother encouraged me to throw my passion into someone specific and the journey of art really began.
Since that time, I have sectioned off a studio in my home and have put art on the B-list. Everyday the I walk into that studio I am incredibly grateful to have to have the time, opportunity and supplies to create.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: When the request for a portrait came forward, my shoulders sagged briefly, since I am a landscape artist. Nevertheless, it didn’t last long and I buckled down to go straight to work. Ideas of who I could paint come and left. It was easy to settle on this particular portrait, since I had done it in the past using watercolor, but felt very strongly that I had not done an excellent job. And so, I set out to work to create a beautiful portrait. During the process I listened to music in the background that worshipped the Lord God, Creator of all things. As I did, instinctively words came to my mind of who she is. I dipped my brush in the silver ink and wrote them on the canvas around her face. The crown was added as I pondered her identity. The intention was to make it subtle enough so that it was almost like an invisible reminder of how loved she is.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? This is the third year I have had the opportunity of being involved in this project. It has been an enjoyable experience to watch people’s creative abilities. The most challenging part of this particular project was managing my time well, since life tends to get very full. Once the idea for the response piece came, the big thing is trying to get that image out of my head and onto the canvas accurately. That said, it is always great to rise to the occasion.
What is your vision for Airdrie Arts? Airdrie is an amazing city with lots of young families and, I’m guessing, hidden talents. I could see Airdrie bringing an event to the city, once a year (Artember), that would combine visual arts with music and dance and perhaps food. Something that would bring the community together in a family-friendly, and excellent way to inspire people.
I could also see the visual arts community working together to create some sort of co-operative studio where a gallery and learning area are side by side and helping the community move forward in bringing beauty to the city on several levels.
Title of Written Submission Piece: Survival Tactics
Title of Response Art Piece: Worlds Colliding
Q&A WITH WRITER SHEILA E. HUMPHREY
Are you Airdrie-based? Although dwelling in northwest Calgary, (not far from Airdrie now), I have been a member of the Writer’s Group at the Airdrie Public Library for eleven years!
Writer Style/Genre: My response piece, “Ascendancy” is poetic prose. I’m not sure that’s a genre…
Bio in 200 words or less: As a teacher in the arts, writing scripts for reader’s theatre, choric drama and creating scenarios for other dramas, these became a part of my everyday work. Outside of my job, directing theatre and musical theatre, plus writing scripts for variety shows also played a part in my development. But it wasn’t until Kelly Kirkpatrick-Lauzon sent me an email and let me know about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), that my novel writing began. Kelly began the writer’s group and in November of that first year she presented the NaNoWriMo challenge. That was eleven years ago, and I hope to continue writing!
Voice and Vision has also been a big part of my life. Editing the book that evolved from the project of uniting writers with visual artists was a highlight and a creative energizer. Responding to an artist’s work has been both a humbling and empowering experience. It is always a pleasure!
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: I begin by meeting the artist and letting them tell me as much as they want about their artwork. Karin revealed that the painting was a portrait of a much beloved family member and that the words surrounding her niece are descriptors of her. She sent me a photo of the painting which I printed out as soon as I got home. This allowed me to take time to look at her artwork and become acquainted with its style and mood.
Initially I saw the figure allegorically, mainly because of the crown perched on her head and the refined hairdo, understated jewelry and delicate fabric of her dress. In my imagination she was a Mother Nature icon, concerned about the way the earth was being treated. This led me to my first poem, “We Are One”.
My next response arose from our early and tragic forest fire season. The background in Karin’s painting now looked to me like fire and the acrid smoke that hangs in the atmosphere. The figure became a very angry Mother Nature. Mankind had broken faith through its ignorance and wanton destruction of the earth. So the title to that rant was “Broken”.
Reading through these two poems, a different interpretation of Karin’s painting occurred to me. The figure could be the saviour of mankind. Because of her qualities, and all that she has known, she is the protector the world needs, her crown an indicator of the part of the world she cares so much about. Her name became Amber, like amber in nature–holder of fossils and ancient wisdom.
My daughter heard these three poems in order and found a narrative between the second and third compositions. This challenged me to go back to both pieces and create a fourth poem. It meant streamlining both efforts, with a break between the two, to denote a passage of time. Now “From the Ashes” was born.
My journey wasn’t over! Upon reflection, and feedback from other writers and family members, I revisited the third attempt, Amber’s story. I re-worked the original and finally came up with a title, “Ascendancy”. This is my offering to Karin, my response to her intriguing painting.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? Responding to an artwork is so enjoyable. Sometimes artists present us with: sculptures, fabric hangings, collages, clay creations in addition to paintings. Imagination takes flight and there’s no telling where an author will be led. The challenge is in making sure these imaginings are reflective of the artwork itself. The writer can’t know the artist’s intent. Sometimes the art may make a connection to the writer that its creator wasn’t aware existed! Striving for authenticity in one’s written response is key for an author. In a sense, the writer is honouring the artwork, holding it up to the light.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? Airdrie already has a vibrant arts community. The Voice and Vision project is a wonderful opportunity for artists and writers to collaborate. It is a small miracle that continues to develop.
More opportunities could be found that would allow other art groups to participate. Here are some suggestions: add music to the Voice and Vision project, musicians being grouped with the artist and writer (one year we had a response piece that was a song); members of the project could bring their partnerships to teacher groups, encouraging educators to try creative projects with their students; create a registry of artists, writers, musicians, dancers, actors who are available as clinicians; form a loan bank of artwork that could be displayed in local businesses. Airdrie is a vibrant, young community that has the energy and drive to make it an even more amazing arts community.
COLLABORATION 6: Artist LOREEN FESER and Writer KYLA RAICHE-STEELE
Title of Submission Art Piece: Smokey and the Bandit
Title of Written Response Piece: The Eye of the Storm
Q&A WITH ARTIST LOREEN FESER
Are you Airdrie-based? I live in Cochrane.
Artist Style/Genre: I use a variety of media however, both of my submissions this year are oil on canvas.
Bio in 200 words or less: I am an artist and a nursing professional. I have pursued both vocations most of my life. In my art career, I explore human relationship and meaning through the use of symbols in a variety of media. Much of my subject matter is autobiographical in some way. I have been influenced by growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan and living and working in Alberta in my adult life.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: I am currently working on a visual autobiography of my life. The submission piece, Smokey and the Bandit, was based on my relationship with my first horse. Smokey was a stubborn Shetland pony whose temperament was almost matched by my own. Smokey never wanted to leave the pasture and I was intent on stealing his afternoon of leisure in the pasture by going on a ride.
The Year there were no Flowers was my response piece to Kyla’s piece about a young boy who picked all his mother’s peonies, hense no flowers that summer. Her story is based on a family story related years later by a Grandmother relating her joys and sorrows.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? I find the most challenging aspect to try to interpret another person’s concept. This process forces you to venture outside your own usual processes and subject matter. I find these artist and writer collaborations a growth experience.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? I think there is so much talent outside the major centres in Alberta. Groups like Voice and Vision showcase the talents of these talented artists and writers. I feel very privileged to be apart of it.
Title of Written Submission Piece: The Year There Were No Flowers
Title of Response Art Piece: The Year There Were No Flowers
Q&A WITH WRITER KYLA RAICHE-STEELE
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes
Writer Style/Genre: Children’s and Free Writing
Bio in 200 words or less: Kyla Raiche-Steele was born in Calgary, Alberta but spent her childhood in a small town outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan which she loved. In her teenage years her and her family moved back to Calgary. Small town to big city was a shock! Now settled into married life and motherhood, Kyla is happy to reside in the smaller city of Airdrie with its familiar small-town charms she grew up with.
Kyla completed her English degree through Athabasca University in 2011, shortly after starting a family. She has been happily married to her hubby for 14 years and counting, and mother to 2 spunky kids which she enjoys raising as a stay-at-home momma.
Kyla has always enjoyed reading and writing, although it has been a hobby that has ebbed and flowed through the years. She was brave and joined the Airdrie’s Writer’s Group, which introduced her to the opportunity of the Voice and Vision project. It has been an enjoyable and challenging experience. It has definitely made Kyla feel vulnerable and a bit of an amateur. But everyone has been very welcoming and encouraging. It has been a great space to stretch out her writing muscles and start exercising that skill again.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: I wanted to present a piece that was descriptive. I wanted to try and create an image, or multiple images that when an artist read it, they could be inspired and excited to work with my words. It took a few drafts, and lots of editing, re working words and descriptions. But it came together. I have also always wanted to share memories or moments from my life with others, so I used that as my inspiration. I thought this was a chance for me to be brave and take advantage of this great opportunity to share a personal story, and perhaps put a little smile on some one’s heart.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? The most challenging part was trying to respond to my artist’s work. I wanted to do it justice as it is a beautiful piece. There was pressure to have my words compliment or add more to my partner’s piece and not take away from it. It is also challenging having confidence in my writing, knowing it will be shared with others. This project made me feel vulnerable, which is not always comfortable. I am rusty in my writing at this stage of my life so I had to brush the dust off and take on the challenge. As people read, it may still seem a little dusty, but everyone has to have a starting point, right?
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? I would love to see these opportunities publicized more. I had no idea about the Voice and Vision project until I joined the Airdrie’s Writers Group. I have not asked ages, but I am pretty sure I am the youngest participating. I love that, as I feel like there are parts of me that are an old soul. And now I am part of an amazing group of men and women that have helped and inspired me to continue to work on my writing. I think it would be amazing for everyone, every age, stage, walk of life to have the opportunity and support from others like I have to work on their creative talents, but especially the younger 25-35 age demographic. I think if opportunities like Voice and Vision were publicized and explained more it would hopefully reach more people and give them the chance to be apart of it. I feel like if I knew about it and understood the project earlier, I would have participated. It has been a wonderful experience, and uplifting to meet other creative people and I would love other people to share that with me.
COLLABORATION 7: Artist TAMI HORT LATHWELL and Writer MARGARET G. HANNA
Title of Submission Art Piece: Sunshine On My Shoulders
Title of Written Response Piece: The Dancer
Q&A WITH ARTIST TAMI HORT LATHWELL
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes
Artist Style/Genre: Visual Artist
Bio in 200 words or less: I started grade one with an art award and finished grade twelve with another. This had a very big influence on me to continue to pursue painting and since then I have received many art awards. They say you must have a recognizable style to be successful artist but Versatility of style defines me! I paint in all genres and mediums. Portraits warm with emotion and likeness, Figures who tell a story, Landscapes that capture the beauty in places you recognize, and Still-life realistically rendered. Being artistic is a gift, as natural to me as writing but I believe anyone can become an artist. An instructor for homeschool, assisted living and seniors; currently teaching with Brushstrokes in Willowpark south Calgary. I have hosted or taken part in over 60 workshops, Have been a member of numerous art organizations currently the Calgary Sketch Club and an Honorary Member of the Federation of Canadian Artists. You can see my art exhibited at the Airdrie Smitty’s and at GPK Law.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: This story really spoke to me and brought back memories as if I had written the passage myself. We had an enormous oak tree in the middle of a field where we would go, we also played in haylofts, on an old retired threshing machine, and we built forts in the trees we climbed on.
The excerpt describes imaginative children who invent scenarios as the clamour on and transform the farm into playful places. Margaret’s descriptive passage weighs heavily on their favourite place with three poplar trees.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? Making the decision on whether to paint the artwork as a visual presentation of the story or a visual concept from the story.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? I have called Airdrie home since I began working for the city of Airdrie in 1988. The art community has gone through many changes. I believe we need a place for artists to encourage both art creation and art representation. Through Art we can create friendships. partnerships, art appreciation an increase public interest.
Title of Written Submission Piece: The Tree
Title of Response Art Piece: Natures Playground
Q&A WITH WRITER MARGARET G. HANNA
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes
Writer Style/Genre: Historical Fiction, Creative non-fiction.
Bio in 200 words or less: Margaret G. Hanna grew up in southwestern Saskatchewan, on the farm homesteaded by her paternal grandfather in 1909. After 12 years of university, she worked as a professional archaeologist, first on several short-term contracts in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta, and finally as Curator of Aboriginal History at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina. She retired in 2007 and moved to Airdrie AB where she lives with her husband and no pets. She now uses her research skills to explore family and prairie history.
Margaret is a member of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, Women Writing the West, Alexandria Writers’ Centre and the Airdrie Writers’ Group.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: The Tree: This began as a response to a 99-word challenge to write about a playground, and in my childhood, one specific tree was that playground. It was more than just a tree – our imagination transformed it into anything and any place. The only problem was maintaining the initial limit of 99 words, but I was able to expand it when I submitted it to Voice and Vision.
The Dancer: One look at Tami’s painting was all I needed. I saw a young girl dancing for joy, with youthful abandon, unburdened by any of the cares that adults carry. That’s how the poem began. Then an unexpected line just fell out of me onto the page and took the poem in a very different direction. It is a contrast of light and dark, joy and sorrow.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? The most stressful part is wondering who you will be paired with. So many talented artists live here, with many different styles and using many different media. This year, Tami’s painting provided immediate inspiration, but some years I do not have an immediate response to the artwork and I really have to think about what it says to me. That often includes several re-writes and even several versions before I think I’ve “got” it.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? Airdrie needs a permanent gallery in which our remarkable artists can display their work. Airdrie also needs to celebrate the many writers we have, so my thanks Airdrie Life for giving us this opportunity.
COLLABORATION 8: Artist PENNY ATKINS and Writer WANDA L. BENNETT
Title of Submission Art Piece: Prairie Girl
Title of Written Response Piece: In The Grass
Q&A WITH ARTIST PENNY ATKINS
Are you Airdrie-based? I am based in Calgary but have enjoyed many creative experiences and friendships in Airdrie.
Artist Style/Genre: My art style is whimsical with the use of acrylic paint.
Bio in 200 words or less: I am an artist and creative who began painting seriously in 2019 during a grieving period followed by great loss. This time period coincided with the covid pandemic.
A certain amount of isolation spurned a desire to process my emotion through painting. The use of bright colours in the making of whimsical landscapes filled with crooked houses, trees and animals is quite fulfilling. My hope is that these paintings invoke as much joy in others as they do in me. Chalk pastel is another favourite medium I use in the creation of people and pet portraits.
My new found passion is teaching the drawing and art process to students of all ages at a local art studio.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: I was inspired by a feeling of hope – that feeling which Spring stirs in us all when the land and animals are waking up to life. A little sadness was also inspired by a sense that the days are still not long enough and the subject must now return home as the sun sets.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? The most challenging aspect of this project was the balance between too much and too little. There had to be just enough life, as in flowers and young animals, coupled with just enough earthiness to show that not everything was awake with the season yet. I wanted the focus to be on the setting sun, the subject and her dog just before they turn around to come as well as the strength of the stalworth trees in contrast with their delicate blooms.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? My vision for Airdrie, quite simply, is colour. There needs to be more colourful expression on buildings and public spaces. More opportunity for people to learn about and experience art in the way of art studios and art spaces as the arts community expands is part of my vision too.
Title of Written Submission Piece: Spring Evening
Title of Response Art Piece: Spring Evening
Q&A WITH WRITER WANDA L. BENNETT
Are you Airdrie Based? Yes
Writer Style/Genre: Writer of short stories and poetry
Bio in 200 Words or less: I am Saskatchewan born, however, I have lived in Alberta for 34 years, so I feel equally from both provinces. Recently, I retired and moved to Airdrie to be closer to my family and I have to say, I am loving it!
I am a bit of a late bloomer in the writing world and although I have devoured books all my life, it was during the Covid period that I decided to write down the stories and memories I so enjoyed telling. I sent my first two stories out with Christmas cards to family, friends and Canadian military personnel and it was their response that encouraged me to continue writing.
On the third day in Airdrie, while visiting the bank, I discovered the Airdrie Public Library and immediately got my card! There I learned that in addition to all the books I could imagine, APL also supported other activities I found interesting. I am now a regular in both the writing and knitting groups.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: This was my first Voice & Vision submission, so I wanted to create a piece that spoke specifically of my first experiences in Airdrie. Inspiration gradually developed during walks on the paths while spring was budding around me.
Two lines came to me while I was working on my laptop, so I quickly opened a fresh page, typed them in and from there, Spring Evening just flowed out of my head.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? It felt a little daunting as I was new to writing and I had never entered a piece anywhere before, I think, I needed to overcome my own mind first and once the piece came so easily, I felt more confident.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? One of my retirement goals was to become a volunteer to promote and support Airdrie’s active and alive art community. I am hoping to be an asset in more than one area.
COLLABORATION 9: Artist MELISSA BRUGLEMANS-LABELLE and Writer ALLISSA BLONDIN
Title of Submission Art Piece: Die Away
Title of Written Response Piece: Indelible
Q&A WITH ARTIST MELISSA BRUGLEMANS-LABELLE
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes
Bio in 200 words or less: Born and raised in Alberta, Melissa’s work has been on display and sold both nationally and internationally. It’s been characterized as being thoughtful towards the emotion and the energy of motion of her subject matter. Initially trained in oil painting and drawing her switch to painting with liquid coffee and mixed media allowed Melissa to tap into its warmth and fluidity while forcing her let go of the traditional thought and detail she had learned from painting with oils. Her most recent achievements are was placing Third this years national art competition, Faces of Healthcare through HealthPro Canada. Illustrating her first children’s book Flip Flop Flapjack (The true story about Alberta Legend Wildhorse Jack Morton and the First Stampede Breakfast). Was one of the Featured Artists in the Calgary Stampede 2023 Western Showcase Artist Gallery.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: My artwork is mostly inspired by movement and energy of its subject matter. I use various strengths of coffee to create the numerous shades throughout my painting. I then add different types of mixed media which hep to add interest and give more depth. I very much enjoy using origami paper because of the texture, vibrant colours and detail. I also like to use candy wrappers, food packaging, old written notes, book pages, scripts and other found objects. Swarovski crystals and gold leafing also tend to find their way in to my pieces. It really all depends upon the mood I wish to convey. I also enjoy framing my work in old vintage or second hand frames.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? Most challenging aspect of this project was portraying the emotions evoked by this art and still depicting the vision or content that would still be congruent with the original poet’s themes & subject.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? Would like more of it and more support for it. Opportunities seem very limited, hard to find or poorly advertised. Would love more community events and projects to be created and Available for all ages.
Title of Written Submission Piece: Many Moons Ago
Title of Response Art Piece: Ballad of Memory and Thought
Q&A WITH WRITER ALLISSA BLONDIN
Are you Airdrie-based? Yes
Writer Style/Genre: Poetry
Bio in 200 words or less: Allissa Blondin has been writing professionally in one form or another for over 25 years. With a degree in legal research and a certificate in applied business management, she spent most of her career helping municipalities, corporations, and not-for-profits create clear and concise messaging for internal and external stakeholders. When she discovered her passion for helping entrepreneurs and spiritual leaders stand in their light so they could write the book they were meant to write, she left the corporate world behind to follow her writing passions. Today, as Owner and CEO of The Feathered Pen, Allissa helps thought-leaders create their written legacy.
Please describe your inspiration and process in creating your piece: The inspiration behind this piece was finding the connection so many of us believe we have lost. Connection to ourselves, connection to nature, connection to one another, and connection to higher consciousness. First, I implemented a process I call Connected Writing Practice from my upcoming book, Confessions of a Ghostwriter: How to Tap into Higher Consciousness to Write Your Book to allow me to connect to the message I wanted to share. The words started flowing and I wrote until they stopped. Then I read the words again and realized the poem had a lyrical quality and flow to it. The music in my head sounded like something a minstrel would play hundreds of years ago. After getting some amazing feedback from a few members of the Airdrie Library Writers’ Group I played around with the rhythm, changed a few words, and voila, the poem came to life!
What was the most challenging aspect of this project? The most challenging aspect of this project was trying to create a response piece that would capture the essence of my partner’s art in a way that tells a story, and also respects and elevates the awe of her piece.
What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? My vision for the arts in Airdrie is for it to be nurtured so it becomes interwoven into the fabric of the city as we continue to grow. Art in public spaces connects us to one another, creating a shared history. Interpreting literary works helps us connect to ourselves and our community in a deeper, more meaningful way. Appreciating the preservation of, or artistic representation of, the natural landscape that surrounds us instantly reminds us of what it feels like to connect with nature. And witnessing that moment of awe when you see, read, listen, or otherwise take in another’s artform reminds us that there is a greater connection available to all of us. Art creates connection and championing that connection is how our city will flourish and thrive.