Voice & Vision 2020: An inspiring collaboration of artists and writers

Story by Stacie Gaetz


Photos by Courtesy of Artists

The Airdrie Public Library’s (APL) fifth annual Voice & Vision Collaboration (VVC) paired local artists and writers together to create pieces inspired by each other’s work.

“It is a great exercise in creativity as the artist has complete control over the first piece and then is guided to create another,” says Eric Pottie, APL’s programming and customer engagement manager.

“It’s super fascinating to see what a writer will come up with from a single painting and what an artist will create from a one-page submission.”

The artwork and written pieces will be on display at the library as well as included in an online gallery on APL’s website this fall.

The library will live-stream a gala in September when the original and response pieces are shown, and the creators will speak about what they made and how they were inspired.

Visit for more information on the presentation.

Here we feature Q&As with the creators and showcase the pieces they created for VVC.


Name: Verone Solilo (Artist)

Partner: Margaret G. Hanna

Title of Piece: First Date

Are you Airdrie based? Yes

Artist Style/Genre: Modern impressionism

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

I usually start with a scene or an experience or a memory that inspires me. I then do a lot of research into photographs and images of different aspects of that inspiration before I paint a quick sketch on my canvas. Once I have a composition in mind, I let the emotions of it flow onto the canvas using bright colours. There is some realism to my paintings, but I prefer to use an impressionistic way of describing my subject matter, so as to allow the viewer to imagine what they see for themselves.

This one was inspired by a memory. When I met my husband at 16, our first dates were bike rides to Wascana Park, in Regina, Sask. This is a gorgeous park that has lots of paths winding around the lake and through the mature trees, well-groomed lawns and flower beds, and Canada geese. It also boasts a beautiful white bandstand/pavilion, which is set in this lush urban forest. I recall that pavilion being the perfect rest stop since it was halfway around the lake. I’m sure ours was not the only first date at the pavilion that blossomed into lifelong love. Lovely memories.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Because I am used to being inspired by my own experiences, I find it challenging to be inspired by the writings of someone else. It is even more challenging to try to honour what the writer is saying in their piece, but still show my own interpretation of it. But I am always for up for a challenge and step out of my comfort zone. This exercise is a great way to stretch one’s skills and grow as an artist. I always enjoy getting to know my ‘partner writers’ too. I always learn so much from them.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

I would love to see an art gallery in Airdrie. I really believe that art is just as important to our well-being as learning how to swim at the Genesis Place Recreation Centre or seeing a doctor when we are sick. Our mental health and our understanding of each other depends on it.


Name: Margaret G. Hanna (Writer)

Partner: Verone Solilo

Title of Piece: First Date

Are you Airdrie based? Yes

Artist Style/Genre: Short story

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

Verone’s piece spoke to me of two people full of joy and exuberance, totally living in the moment. I wanted to know what happened later, what their future was. Was it together or apart? Did their story have a happy ending or a sad one?

I wrote three stories – one with a happy ending, one with a sad ending and one with a potentially happy ending.

Verone and I met one afternoon, partly to get to know each other and partly to talk about our art/writing. She gave me more insight into the story behind her painting and into her philosophy of painting in general. I also read the stories to the writers’ group, and their feedback was very useful in honing them.

Finally, I submitted the story with the potentially happy ending, mostly because I like endings that don’t really end, that leave it up to the reader to imagine what happens next.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

From beginning to end, the entire project is a challenge. How to interpret the painting? Should I remain true to the artist’s intent or go my own route? How do I tell a complete story in 250 words? And if I write more than one story, which one do I submit?

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

To be supported and celebrated more openly and more widely because Airdrie has a dynamic community of artists and writers.


First Date

By Margaret G. Hanna

She was the most popular girl in high school – beautiful, witty, talented.

I was the class nerd – brilliant at math and sciences, lousy at sports and small talk.

Somehow, I found the courage to ask her to the graduation dance. I couldn’t believe my ears when she said, “Yes.”

The big night, I fidgeted in her parents’ living room, only half-listening to her father’s lecture. I gasped when she swept into the room, resplendent in red. God, she was beautiful!

After the dance, she giggled and grabbed my hand. “Let’s go dance in the park.”

We danced in the bandstand, then walked among the blossom-laden trees and talked about our futures till the stars dimmed.

That fall, I went to MIT and began my career as a theoretical physicist. We lost touch.

Thirty-some years later, I returned home for my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary. The hall was crowded with people I hadn’t seen in years. I almost dropped my drink when she walked in. Age had only made her more beautiful. Her face lit up when she saw me. “Do you still dance?” she asked.

My heart skipped a beat. She remembered!

Before we could talk further, I was whirled away to give the toast to my parents. An hour later, I saw her leaving. I ran after her. “Stop! Wait!”

She turned, her eyebrow cocked. “Yes?”

“Um, um.” I was again the tongue-tied teenage nerd. “Let’s go dance in the park,” I blurted.

She laughed, then took my hand. “Let’s.


Name: Loreen Feser (Artist)

Partner: Kali Birks-Gallup

Title of Piece: Sharing  Life

Are you Airdrie based? I live in Cochrane.

Artist Style/Genre: Oil painting and molding paste on board

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

I work in a wide variety of media. This piece is oil and molding paste on board to add to the texture of the paint and give a sense of the physical aspects of the moon and the tree.

My subject matter incorporates symbol and layered meaning, which is often autobiographical. In this piece, I was responding to the prose about an interconnected life. The relationship between the human form and the tree is symbiotic. The woman is encased within the tree, sheltered from the storm and each is drawing life from the other.

There are several symbols in this piece. The symbol of the leaf is a symbol of new life. The leaf is an oak leaf and according to symbology, oak leaves symbolize strength, endurance, longevity, faith and virtue. The moon is a female symbol and a disintegrating moon represents chaos, destruction and imminent threat. There are juxtapositions in this piece between beginnings and endings, new life and disintegration.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

The most challenging aspect is to try to see through the eyes of another’s vision. In these projects, writers and artists must try to interpret each other’s works. From the artist’s view, you must project your understanding of a piece of prose or writing given your own experience. I find these projects require me to stretch my imagination to encompass subject matter outside my usual repertoire. This is especially true if the subject matter is fictional or abstract.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

I think art is often overlooked in smaller communities in Alberta but there is great talent outside the major centres. In this community of artists, there is a wealth of ideas, support and untapped potential.


Name: Kali Birks-Gallup (Writer)

Artist/Writer Partner: Loreen Feser

Title of Piece: Shared Life
Are you Airdrie based? Originally from Australia but married a Canadian and settled in Airdrie.

Artist Style/Genre:  Writer of fantasy
Please describe your process in creating your piece.

This piece came from a long-term project set in a fantasy world I came up with as a teenager. I love exploring the world in terms of interconnected life. I especially like how energy never disappears and is only changed from one form into another.
What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Our 250-word limit for this project is always challenging for me. When I have stories in my mind, they are often epic, novel-sized ideas and I struggle to find an idea that can be wrapped up in 250 words.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie? 

Airdrie is the smallest city I’ve ever lived in, but the creative talent is huge. There is a thriving supportive community of writers and artists that is easy to find and access. Since starting the Airdrie Writers Group Facebook Page, we have been able to share ideas, resources and information better than ever. The Airdrie Public Library is very supportive, and I hope the future planned library building will incorporate more spaces for the creative life of Airdrie to meet and display work.
Shared Life

By Kali Birks-Gallup

Snowflakes swirled. Her touch melted them. Droplets seeped into her pores, quickly refreezing. Her inner heat rapidly diminished. Her cloak did not keep out the cold.

No possibility of rescue. It was her against this endless blizzard.

She pawed the snow and found a stick. Hope bloomed – a chance – but she could not doubt. She must believe. No, she must know.

She closed her eyes and ran her fingers over the wood’s gnarled surface. It had once been a growing, living thing. She reached for its truth, what the wood knew it was, and found it –  seed, branch, tree….

Pushing back fear, she tightened her grip. She could do this. Reaching for the force that fed her own life, she extended it, first through her arms, then fingertips…. Life pushed into the would-be tree and … it took hold.

The wood sucked at her like leaves drink sunlight. She bent, touching the stick to the ground. Tendrils, tiny at first, pushed snow aside and plunged deep into the earth.

The new sapling was watered with her inner strength. She planted a thought, an image of what she wanted from it. Shelter.

It agreed. Shoots sprang from the stalk as it thickened itself into a trunk. Upward. Over. Around. Curling twigs that danced in the wind soon turned solid and mighty against the gale.

The tree encased her, now safe against the icy tempest.

The shelter grew warm with mutual gratitude for life saved, given and now intertwined.


Name: Alesha Buczny (Artist)

Partner: Tandy Balson

Title of Piece: Untitled

Are you Airdrie based? I am an Airdrie based artist and an art instructor in Calgary.

Artist Style/Genre: Mixed media

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

My process starts with quick sketches of an image that appears in my mind. I then start the hunt and gather of objects and materials I may use. I am in constant thought about my piece until I physically start it. This state of thought can be weeks or months. Once I feel I have everything I need, I start working on my piece; it usually takes me two to three days to complete. I also have a background with metal and jewelry, so I try to put a little metal in every mixed media piece I make. For this chrysalis piece, I wanted to combine the written words, my materials and the experience I had with motherhood. I wanted to be able to create something beautiful and rustic while still keeping some of the piece covered. For example, I left a small portion of the inner structure of the chrysalis (metal structure) as a reminder of the inner workings we can’t always see but know are there.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

The most challenging aspect was the background. I had so many ideas I had to narrow it down and ended up doing something totally different than planned. I am very pleased with where I took it.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

I would love to see more of the arts in all aspects. Art can be very therapeutic and relaxing. We have a great start with artists gathering and sharing their passions. I would like to see more art galleries and venues where people are able to experience more hands-on with the arts.


Name: Tandy Balson (Writer)

Partner: Alesha Buczny

Title of Piece: Transformation

Are you Airdrie based? Yes.

Artist Style/Genre: My writing genre is creative non-fiction, with a preference for inspirational.

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

My process in creating the piece was to use a real-life situation and fictionalize it to create a story that would give hope for the future.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

The most challenging aspect of this project was to create a 250-word story with enough imagery to give the artist lots to work with, while still keeping true to my preferred inspirational style of writing.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

My vision for the arts in Airdrie would be a space where artists, writers and other creatives could meet, be encouraged by and support each other. Works could be displayed; mentoring would take place, and all would be welcome.



By Tandy Balson

Sarah smiled as she arranged fresh flowers in a vase. One finger touched something unusual and she jerked her hand away.

Attached to one of the stems was a shiny chrysalis, or cocoon. Her young daughters were fascinated and begged to keep it.

Day by day the girls checked the chrysalis. They couldn’t see any changes and questioned Sarah constantly. “Why is it taking so long?” Emma demanded. “When do we get to see the butterfly?” chimed in Eva.

Sarah patiently explained, “Some changes happen on the inside, where no one can see. We don’t always know how long it will take.”

Despite her assurances, Sarah wondered if she was giving the girls false hope. What if something went wrong and the transformation never happened?

Sarah thought of the changes that had taken place in her life since her twin daughters were born. In the early days, she had been so exhausted and overwhelmed she would have welcomed a cocoon to curl up and rest in. Her heart was full of love but the life she’d once known was far removed and she missed her former freedom.

Now, five years later, Sarah had learned to appreciate the unpredictability of motherhood. This change in her outlook had taken time. She’d had to let go of the past in order to fully embrace today. As in the chrysalis, this happened deep inside, where no one could see.

Sarah understood why the butterfly could not emerge until the transformation was complete.


Name: Jaye Benoit (Artist)

Partner: Lynn Kirkpatrick

Title of Piece: Fire Tree

Are you Airdrie based? Yes

Artist Style/Genre: Oil painting

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

This piece is a part of my Homeland series that was started last year. The series is inspired by my personal experience of searching for spirituality in nature while living in a suburban environment.

Moving to Airdrie, Alta., from a brief stint in the Rocky Mountains had a significant impact on my mental health; I felt closed off from nature and closed into the built environment of the suburbs. Over time, I have learned to appreciate the small vignettes of nature that I can find here: the sunsets over the neighbourhood, the pathway system running through a small natural area between communities, an illuminated tree beside the road. These are beautiful reminders that nature, and a connection to something beyond humanity and its development, can be found anywhere. But the spiritual connection with nature is not uninterrupted; the tree is illuminated by the streetlight, the row of houses block the sunset, and just beyond the horizon the next community is in sight. We need houses to live in and streetlights to see, and there is both loss and beauty to be found within our relationship to the natural world.

In particular, Fire Tree is a veneration of small experiences of nature within the suburban environment: trees planted in a park, often needing staking for support and used to fulfill urban planning ideas, separated from their rugged environment. The strong lighting and colour palette choice venerates the tree through illumination, while simultaneously presenting an uneasy feeling of destruction by referencing fire. The buildings in the background remind the viewer that the scene is a small aspect of nature within the city.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Always, the most challenging aspect of the Voice & Vision project is fulfilling both your own artistic vision while paying homage to your partner’s idea and underlying intention. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know my partner and the inspiration behind their work. Collaboration can make creative ideas flow and push you artistically to use unfamiliar processes and ideas, which can definitely feel challenging and uncomfortable at first, but the outcome can be liberating.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

I envision an arts community that is active and supportive, and that is a driving force in Airdrie culture.


Name: Lynn Kirkpatrick (Writer)

Partner: Jaye Benoit

Title of Piece: Fire Tree

Are you Airdrie based? Yes

Artist Style/Genre: Free verse

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

I was looking at it from a perspective of nature and the balance of life. I was able to meet with Jaye and get her intent for her piece, which helped inform my end work.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Trying to understand the artist’s perspective and incorporate that.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

To look at arts as a whole, and to incorporate it into new visions for the community.


Nature’s Fire Tree

By Lynn Kirkpatrick

Fire tree flames its fury.
Atoms collide.
Electricity charges.
Earthquakes shake.

Setting sun and storm clouds combine.

Pink sky radiates unconditional cosmic love.
Friendship in harmony with all.
Truth is in the balance.
Stars align in ancient skies.

Beneath a forest canopy.
Mulch houses insects and fungi.

Under towering fir and spruce.
Winged creatures scavenge food and housing.
Honeybees clean their legs of pollen.
Long shadows close out the days.

In the distance human footprints encroach.
Housing and terrain vehicles leave their mark.
Forestry and tourism wake nature’s defence mechanisms.

Rejuvenation through knowledge and time.
The forest takes in carbon dioxide, breathes out oxygen.

Inhale and exhale.
The fire tree roars

“We are one with nature!”

Mother Earth is in control.


Name: Kaleigh Kanary (Artist)

Partner: Ann Edall-Robson

Title of Piece: Capture

Are you Airdrie based? No, I live in south Calgary.

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

As this was a response piece, my painting was inspired by imagery in Ann’s written story, Got It. I connected with the idea of photography to show a captured moment in time. So many of us take pictures of events in our lives that we wish to remember and revisit after time passes. In this piece, the view through the camera lens reveals the memory.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Throughout this project, I feel I’m always challenged by trying to honour the work of the submitting writer. It’s tough to do their written work justice with a single submission. The interesting part is, we all see different things in the work created and that gives us a lot of flexibility. I decided I would take this year as a personal artistic challenge as well. I have only been working digitally for the past year, and it has been an interesting switch from traditional illustration and painting.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

I’ve been a Calgarian for the past 20 years but have a growing network in Airdrie. It was through an Airdrie writer that I found the Voice & Vision project. Over the past three years, I’ve been surrounded by some very talented Airdrie artists. I hope this project continues to grow and showcase a variety of artists and styles in Airdrie and the surrounding communities.


Name: Ann Edall-Robson (Writer)

Partner: Kaleigh Kanary

Title of Piece: Got It

Are you Airdrie based? Yes

Artist Style/Genre: Cozy mysteries

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

At least three preliminary pieces are written out longhand—all with a different POV, word count (250 allowed) is not considered.

I treat it like a writing exercise where editing is not allowed. Writing whatever comes to mind; and I keep writing the piece until I’m done. Completion of each piece may take as little time as an hour, or several hours.

I transfer the raw work to the computer, making minimal changes in the process. This completes the first edit of all pieces. The word count is still ignored.

Each piece is recorded and left for a few days before listening to them.

This process lets me get the feel for each of the pieces and choose the one I want hone further, for submission. The word count continues to be ignored.

A hard copy is printed.

The red pen comes out and the submission piece gets another work over.

This step may happen several times before the word count is taken into consideration.

The word count is finally reviewed.

This is where final changes are made to adhere to the not-more-than-250-word criteria.

The semi-final draft is prepared.

A recording is made and played back within 24 hours.

At this time, a copy of the piece and the artist’s work may be reviewed by two to three beta readers for clarity and flow.

Additional fine-tuning is completed

The final draft is prepared and submitted to the committee.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Connecting to the artist’s work. Without this, it can be a struggle to write an interpretation that complements their piece.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

To see more events that include writers. Airdrie is home to several published and up-and-coming authors. It would be nice to see this group of artisans recognized more in the community.


Got It

By Ann Edall-Robson

“Stop, backup, whoa!”

How many times had those words interrupted conversations while travelling down the road?

The words always made him smile. Wondering what it was his wife had seen this time that brought her camera to her eye. An animal? Some scenery? The setting sun sparkling on the rain splashed grasses? He never tired of her enthusiasm, the sparkle in her eye, that smile, when she said, “Got it.”

Her voice was now only an echoing memory in his mind as he drove along their favourite roads. How had he missed the signs? She never gave an inkling all was not right in her world.

Pulling over, he nosed the rig off the shoulder into the ditch. Had he seen something worthy of her eye? He could hear her trying to explain to him what she had seen, before clambering out of the truck to wander. Moving in tiny steps until she caught sight of what had prompted the words stop, backup, whoa.

The meadow vista that had made him stop blurred through the window. His eyes overflowing with jewels of love, his heart swelling with the pain of his loss. What was he waiting for? Perhaps, like her, he needed to wander. Wiping away the tears, he picked up her camera from its place on the passenger’s seat.

“I’ll just have a look around,” he whispered into the quiet emptiness.

Click, click, click. The sound of the shutter shattered the silence.

“Got it, hon.” He grinned. “Got it.”


Name: Sara Zampa (Artist)

Partner: Chad Stewart

Title of Piece: The Professor

Are you Airdrie based? 

I was when this project first started. I was living with my parents for a few months because I’d just moved back here from Edmonton. Since January, I’ve lived in north Calgary.

Artist Style/Genre: Collage. I use magazine/newspaper cutouts and Mod Podge.

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

I continuously collect scraps and pictures from various publications, so I have a lot of the stuff on hand already. When I saw the old man on the stool, the main character in my piece, I knew instantly that I had to use him. He seemed like a benevolent, kind guy who was spinning some kind of story, and I figured he’s probably a professor who’s giving an inspirational lecture to his students. From there, I found other bits and bobs that interested me and played around with the layout until I was satisfied with how it looked. I wanted to evoke the notion that someone who’s skilled in the oratory can really create whole new worlds with their words.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Sometimes you start off with an idea and want to try and find images that fit that. Other times, as was the case here, I saw a focal point and had to build my piece around that. It was challenging to find images and textures that I could use that told the story I wanted to tell with the professor at the helm.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

I think Airdrie could benefit from having a community space that artists of all kinds can utilize. Something like a collective, where there’s studio space to work in, gallery space to sell and connect with buyers, and maybe somewhere to teach/hold lessons as well.


Name: Chad Stewart (Writer)

Partner: Sara Zampa

Title of Piece: The Student’s Journey

Are you Airdrie based? Yes

Artist Style/Genre: I write inspirational, self-help, young adult fiction action-adventure, and horror/thriller.

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

I first develop an idea in my mind as to how I would like my writing to sound; that is, what kind of story I would like to tell and the feelings or emotions I would like to stimulate in myself and in the reader. I then write a first draft, usually in one sitting. After that, I go over it one or two more times until I get it to where I am happy with it. I might also ask those in the writers’ group for feedback, then apply any suggestions I get that I think will make the story better. After that, it’s done!

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

The most challenging part of this project is always the length. It’s hard to compress your writing into 250 words and say something meaningful. The good part about this requirement, however, is that it helps you to keep your writing tight.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

There are many talented people in our little city, and it is my vision that these people are showcased more so that the citizens of Airdrie can be proud of our arts community.


The Student’s Journey

By Chad Stewart

“Yes!” the professor stated exuberantly jumping out of the chair. “I do believe you have it!”

Jacob was taken back by the display. He stumbled into the table; glass beakers fell to the ground. “I’m terribly sorry—”

“Never mind that my boy,” the professor responded, waving his hand dismissively. “The door is before you and all you have to do is open it. Open it to worlds unknown.”

The professor put a finger to his lips. “You need to … you need to leave town immediately on the next bus. Yes, yes, yes.”

“But where to?”

“You have the desire to learn my boy, so it doesn’t matter where you go. That desire will see you through anything.”

“But professor—”

The old man put a hand on Jacob’s shoulder. “Go and see the great cheetahs of the African safari,” he stated. “Or the wolves of the north, or the agrarian peoples of the prairies.”

The professor smiled as he led Jacob to the door. “And above all, my friend, make sure you leave room for love,” he chuckled to himself.

“You have been the best of teachers.”

“Nonsense. The student was ready to listen and learn.”

The professor opened the door. The sound of birds filled the spring air. “Thank you again Professor.”

“You’re welcome my boy. Can you do me one favour before you leave town?”


The old man pulled some coins from his pocket. “Can you please put two bits on Sundance at the track?”


Name: Valerie Holmes (Artist)

Partner: Kelly Kirkpatrick-Lauzon

Title of Piece: Wings Wide Open

Are you Airdrie based? Yes

Artist Style/Genre: Abstract, acrylic painting, with real flower petals

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

Creating a piece of art takes a lot of timing and patience. I have real flowers that need time to dry, I allow the flowers to live as long as possible before putting them in my press. Finding the right flowers that have natural pigment colouration isn’t always easy. I chose to use rose petals with dyed pink into the petals and peonies that hold a natural dark red pigment; having coloured pigment in the petals gives me the ability to manipulate each petal to create my master pieces. Wings Wide Open was inspired by a previous piece I did with VVC of a mother and daughter bird; this piece is the lost father flying home to his family with his wings wide open.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

My biggest challenge I would say would be working with my physical disability. Having permanent nerve damage and carpal tunnel does not allow me to have feeling in my fingers and hands, which is difficult for me because of how fine the flower petals are. Laying each petal intricately, and individually, is quite the challenge when you can’t feel them.

Another aspect of a challenge is choosing the right piece that I felt in the moment would speak to my audiences and writing partner. Working in abstract interruption can be quite difficult and challenging, expressing to others the way you see your own vision.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

Art brings life in many different ways and creates opportunities for self-expression within communities. This allows cultures to enjoy the same experiences sharing different views. I would love to see Airdrie adopt more art to pave the path of bringing the arts into every culture in our community. I believe art strengthens our souls and softens our hearts.


Name: Kelly Kirkpatrick-Lauzon (Writer)

Partner: Valerie Holmes

Title of Piece: Wings Wide Open

Are you Airdrie based? Yes

Artist Style/Genre: Free verse

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

I contemplated the artwork for a long time. After that, I made a word cloud and a vision in my head. I was able to get together with Valerie and talk about her process and meaning. That depth led to many notes and many lines before it all came together.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Melding my own meaning of the work with the artist’s intent. I felt it was important to honour her meaning, but also wanted to retain my own takeaway.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

The reformation of an organization to lead arts initiatives in the community.


Wings Wide Open

By Kelly Kirkpatrick-Lauzon

Vanished but not lost

I remember your scent.

Join me again when ready.

To let go is to re-find.

I will be set to take flight,

To pick up where we left off.

I will linger in the new now,

Wrap a finger around what is to come.

Though I hold tight to tendrils of the past,

My brain is open to embrace change.

My heart longs for what was.

I wisely listen to my thoughts.

Wings wide open I pretend,

Fake my free fall, jump into the unknown.

I add in a twist just for you,

Some flare to convince you

I know what I’m doing,

That you should rejoin the brain.

Until then I will float down

Pretending to bravely meet the strange,

Plummeting to unknown territory.

You will not know.

I will not show any hesitation.

I will meet you at the bottom.


Name: Jenn Rasmussen (Artist)

Partner: Sharon Christie

Title of Piece: Release

Are you Airdrie based?

I am a third-generation Airdrian and have lived here my entire life. I have a large extended family of about 45 people who all live in Airdrie.

Artist Style/Genre:

I am experimenting with watercolours these days and trying to improve with impressionist styles, maybe going to attempt realism. I started a few years ago with acrylics and mostly abstract paintings.

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

Release was really an expression of where I am in life. I am experiencing a new beginning and looking forward to exploring my art in more depth, so I wanted my painting to reflect letting go of the past and embracing the here and now.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

For me, this was one of the first watercolour paintings I have attempted, so the greatest challenge was in handling a new media while learning new techniques.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

I would love to see more interest in the arts in Airdrie. We need to support our local artists and would love to see a gallery supporting local talent in our city. Having a greater art presence in Airdrie would help encourage our youth to discover their artistic talent and vision.


Name: Sharon Christie (Writer)

Partner: Jenn Rasmussen

Title of Piece: The Road Curves

Are you Airdrie based? Yes, I have lived in Airdrie since 1982.

Artist Style/Genre: I primarily write poetry and creative non-fiction.

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

This poem was a response to a picture by Jenn. I wanted to celebrate the place in people’s lives where they suddenly realize their personal strength and know they will be OK. I saw this picture of a woman who looked free and strong, able to let go of her past and walk forward in her personal strength. My poem attempted to be a verbal declaration of that letting go and claiming of her strength. It was satisfying to be able to write a poem of triumph over hard times during this period of COVID-19.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

The most challenging aspect is to respectfully interpret another person’s work and yet retain my own original and creative voice.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

Airdrie has a uniquely supportive arts community. I would love to see this community grow and find more ways to help one another in our personal journeys towards success – however we each define that sense of achievement.


The Road Curves

By Sharon Christie

Singing through the heavens

comes a quiet discord,

the road curves,

she was blind, hands held high, hostage


being held down, deprived, diminished,

a bottle with a cork buried

angry, betrayed

afraid to see herself

to say

I want me

the real me,

not your paper copy.

I will not give up the iron oak I now am

the wind the rain buoy her

she is green, alive


walking free

rejoicing, hands held high, wide

life flows

to her

through her.


Name: Tanya Fix (Artist)

Partner: Pamela Medland

Title of Piece: Capture

Are you Airdrie based? Yes

Artist Style/Genre: Mixed media in resin

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

Capture was inspired by a previous learning through play in my studio. I have been fascinated by fibre in resin and wanted to discover what I could do to create depth and texture within the coloured resin and “above the waterline” as if it was pelted with rain. In the watery resin (first layer) are inclusions of beads, Angelina fibre and wool locks for shimmery current, water plant movement and raindrops.

Midway through the curing of the first resin pour, I wanted to flatten the fiber, and turned the project over on a piece of recycled acetate. Turning it over after being compressed was a happy discovery. The layer of acetate secured the colours, allowed bubble pockets to form, gave it a holographic effect and provided another flat surface to be built up with texture and colour again.

I incorporated the floral twigs as branches over the pond water for the dragon fly to perch on, but wanted it to be drenched, so that the captor seeking its prey is captured. The dynamic ecosystem of flora is captured in the four different fibres framing the scene of the dragonfly wings shimmering, iridescent as it softly flutters before closing them neatly on its back.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Besides waiting for the resin to cure 12 hours between layers, it was deciding how I would use the acetone being firmly ensconced in the piece and what techniques to apply after the effort to flatten the fibre didn’t produce what I had wanted.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

Growth – both with more people exploring their gifts and interests and as a community of support for and with artists, bringing in designers and artists to offer workshops.

I would love to find an art supplier in Airdrie so I could shop locally and enjoy the inspiration of others. This question makes me reminisce and muse about my former business, before moving to Airdrie, where people would come for supplies and stay for coffee. That chapter is closed, but I crave something like it.


Name: Pamela Medland (Writer)

Partner: Tanya Fix

Title of Piece: Southeast

Are you Airdrie based? I live in northwest Calgary, and work in Airdrie.

Artist Style/Genre: Poetry

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

I got a bit tripped up by the dominance of the dragonfly in Capture. There were about five or six ‘false starts’ where I tried to write a poem from the perspective of the dragonfly. This wasn’t working for me, so, instead, I tried freeing up my mind and just going with what Tanya’s piece evoked in me. I kept coming back to BLUE – the blueness of blue. I also found the idea of a pond compelling. At first, I tried short separate pieces each focussing on a different aspect of what blue meant for me. Turned out, there was a discernable pattern which had to do with my grandmother’s many years in long-term care. This was in British Columbia and, to get there, I had to pass the beautiful aquamarine ponds in Kentucky Alleyne Provincial Park. Voila! I discarded the blue stanzas that didn’t relate to my grandmother, kept the journey past the park, and found I had a poem.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Sometimes it is challenging to respond to another’s vision rather than letting your imagination come up with its own material. It is a matter of loosening/opening up, letting someone else’s imaginative vision in – then mix/stir and see what happens. It can be quite unexpected and exciting.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

My vision is the continuing growth of interest in the arts in all forms as the community’s population increases. I am very hopeful that Airdrie will produce many new artists and/or provide fertile ground for creative types who move to Airdrie precisely because the community is in such a dynamic growth phase. Airdrie is a great place to live, work and create; artsy types just need more ways to connect with each other. We also, of course, need more infrastructure to support the arts: more art galleries, theatre and dance spaces, public exhibition space, and fun places for creative types to hang out and share their work with each other and the public. I am actually quite positive about the future of the arts in Airdrie.


Blue Gesso

By Pamela Medland

The 5A south of Aspen Grove

or Loon Lake exit

through Kentucky-Alleyne

limestone crystals

staining ponds aquamarine

Seven years on a ward

grandmother’s sky eyes watered

by an IV drip

Tincture of iodine in stoppered cobalt

your sapphire turned inward

clenched in a bloody palm

Each morning tallied

‒another promise of tomorrow‒

you still here with your deep slate eyes

hidden in a cache of memory

Black bamboo white begonia

cerulean poppies from Bhutan

your garden shivering

under a blanket of mulch

Mallard, magpie, Steller’s jay

blood snaking indigo under white skin

needle hungry for vein

They gave me your ring


Name: Deborah Lawton (Artist)

Partner: Sheila Humphrey

Title of Piece: Fragile Thread

Are you Airdrie based: Yes

Artist Style/Genre: Sculptural mixed media

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

The concept starts first: I was reflecting on depression and how it can ‘wall’ the depressive person off from others. Those people who are closest are connected by a thread, a fragile thread that is easily broken.

The research and symbolic image development come next: I brainstorm concepts and ideas of images and create multiple sketches until I find the one that I connect with the most. When I came to how to represent an individual, I didn’t want an image of a person because that would detract from the impact of the statement. I discovered the chair worked very well to signify the soul of an individual but to develop how we are all different there needed to be more. The symbol of the house became that which contains ‘self.’ The house has three distinct divisions which represent mind, body, spirit. Each chair and house are all different and they are arranged in a communal setting of a neighbourhood street. The depressive person is walled in and the thread that connects is tangled and broken.

Finally, I decide which method to use for the piece:  I love working with sculptural relief, the process of working with clay and plaster is very rewarding. The simplified version of a many step process is:

  • start with a clay slab;
  • carve away that which will be raised in the final piece, build up that which will be recessed (you must think in reverse to build the negative);
  • pour the plaster into the clay mould;
  • once hardened, pull away the clay;
  • clean the plaster, carve into it, add stain, acrylic washes, metallic accents.

Finally, assemble all the pieces (each chair and thread) into the frame.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

The research stage took the longest time for this piece. I’m very conscious with all my pieces not to overly simplify them. I put a lot on underlying symbolism in each piece. I want the viewer to explore the work and discover the deeper meanings, to uncover the hidden.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

Currently, I’m the only visual arts instructor employed by the City of Airdrie. I know there are many artists in our city and many people who want to learn from them. I’m eager to partner with other artists and my colleagues at the City to establish a vibrant public art program. Presently children’s classes are being taught at Burt Church Theatre, but we are in humble beginnings. I look forward to an arts centre that provides classes of all art forms, for all ages, all skill levels; a place for Airdrians to celebrate the diverse arts of our city.


Name: Sheila Humphrey (Writer)

Partner: Deborah Lawton

Title of Piece: Memory Play

Are you Airdrie based? I live in northwest Calgary.

Artist Style/Genre: Prose and poetry

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

Deb Lawton’s art piece Fragile Thread is a profound work. Each of the seven huts is similar, yet different. Colour is unique for each and a subtle placement on the horizontal plane gives each a different character. Memory Play speaks to our collective humanity. The artwork shows how tenuous these links can be and the writing hopes to illuminate this, given the context of our present circumstances.

Memory Play was also written so that the spirits of those people who gave so much will not be forgotten.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

The most challenging aspect is creating a response piece of writing that is a true reflection of the artist’s intent. To honour the artist’s vision is what is uppermost in my mind.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

Airdrie is an astonishing community. Voice & Vision is a magnet for artists and writers in Airdrie and the surrounding countryside. We are lucky to have Airdrie Public Library as a hub for our activities, although all of our meetings this year have been virtual. Because of the size of Airdrie, it still has a country vibe and the writing and artwork reflect this too.

Interestingly enough, Airdrie’s small size also means that per capita there can be more participation in arts and literature.


Memory Play

By Sheila Humphrey

The curtain opens. Seven white huts stand unapologetically forward. Each contains a chair. The backdrop is blue sky with scudding clouds. Softly undulating hills give way to prairie. The soundtrack is Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies.

“It was always the long haul,” says a man appearing in the first chair. He fills the space with his bulk. “But no trucker minded in those days.” He picks up a line that’s attached to his hut and passes it on to the next.

“The hardest part was not being able to really communicate with my patients,” says a young woman in a mask and visor.

“I have never felt more needed.” A white-coated gentleman takes the offered string and passes it to the next edifice.

“I was so careful,” says a young lady wearing a yellow mask, carrying a menu. “But not everyone else was.” She picks up the line, tries to pass it along, but it is cut. She sits down, perplexed.

“Meat packing is not for everyone,” says a man with a blood-stained apron. He sits in the last chair in the row. “It takes skill.” He picks up the filament and gives it to a woman in a cloth mask.

“I would do anything for my old people,” she states; takes the line to pass it on, but can’t.

“I guess I didn’t care enough,” says a twenty-something, looking at the two broken ends. “I just wanted to have fun. What’s wrong with that?”



Name: Cindy Zampa (Artist)

Partner: Sheila Page

Title of Piece: Gulliver and Marigold

Are you Airdrie based? Yes.

Artist Style/Genre: I am a visual artist (mostly painting) who loves to play with different mediums and styles. I am also an art therapist, so have experienced the healing potential of creative expression, both personally and in the community.

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

I love experimenting with new materials and techniques, so when I read On the Ground, I began looking at different ways to represent my black and white subject, skunks. I’d only worked on a scratchboard once before, when I was a child, but it was a landscape scene that was discoverable by scraping off the pattern given. When I saw this clay-coated board on sale at the art store, I was eager to get re-acquainted with the sgraffito technique of scratching into the blackened ink surface to create two skunks. I’d already visualized and named them Gulliver and Marigold, based off the description Sheila shared with me when I asked her about her inspiration for writing about skunks.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

When I read Sheila’s piece, I immediately had several different images, using various techniques and mediums, pop into my head about how I wished to depict Gulliver and Marigold. Deciding on how to show these characters was the most challenging for me. As soon as I saw the scratchboard, the decision was made easily. Gulliver is the one on the left – he is somewhat crabby and can be challenging to be around at times. Marigold is the one who acts like a nice cat, so I showed her walking along a log under a fence.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

Airdrie really needs a facility, or a gallery space, where art of all types can be showcased year round and connections can be made between art and community. In one of my “best-case” visions, I see a collaborative project with multiple sources of support, with the goal of carving out a unique space that will draw people from everywhere…. A wraparound artistic centre that houses all types of creatives, including all visual and expressive artists, from woodworkers, ceramists, fibre arts and writing.… to dance, music and theatre studios. It is paradoxical that, during this pandemic, the more we have to physically distance ourselves from one another, the more our human spirits need social and community connections. There are negative health implications associated with isolation and loneliness, among seniors and youth especially. Sharing and connecting through art has healing potential. Now, more than ever before, the world needs more art experiences to help in the healing process.


Name: Sheila Page (Writer)

Partner: Cindy Zampa

Title of Piece: On the Ground

Are you Airdrie based: Yes

Artist Style/Genre: Non-fiction prose

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

I got an idea and a little research. Then I incorporated those ideas into my own experience with skunks and came up with a story.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Accurately showing my appreciation for nature and its creatures to individuals who may not have any information at all about nature’s beautiful wild animals.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

I hope our VVC continues and grows bigger. In fact, I hope more artists in other arts (such as cooking, clothing design, woodworking, sculpture, metal design) form such collaborative groups, do shows, and have as much fun as we do.


On the Ground

By Shelia Page

I have everything I need: food, shelter, and defense.

To eat enough I spend much time hunting, digging, and nibbling. Tasty things are just running around and catching them is fun. Roots and leafy greens make great summer nourishment. But I’m not particular – I’ll eat almost anything.

My furry body is designed to keep me warm but sometimes I could use help. I need refuge from winter’s wind, snow, and frigid temperatures. Out in the wild, hollow logs and dens work but aren’t easy to find – or make. Spaces under granaries and farm buildings are excellent. Who could refuse food and shelter both in one place? Or there is the warmer – luxurious but possibly dangerous –- accommodation under human homes.

When spring comes, we naturally think of procreation. Females may become so comfy in their winter homes they choose to give birth in the same risky spot. Usually, this does not please the property owner, unwilling to share his family’s space. You must have heard about the resulting chaos. In any case, please be kind to us.

Away from humans someone small as I am can have a happy life. For protection I have sharp teeth and claws – plus a special spray. When it rains, I may get a bath whether I want it or not, and the sun shining above gives me energy while reflecting off my distinctive bi-coloured coat.

The world is my home – the sky is my roof. I am the skunk!


Name: Melissa Bruglemans-LaBelle (Artist)

Partner:  Judy Dufort

Title of Piece: The Sweet Life

Are you Airdrie based? Yes

Artist Style/Genre: Coffee on watercolour paper. Vintage papers and origami paper, Swarovski crystals, metal, mixed media found objects and vintage wood frame.

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

I paint with highly concentrated coffee and add more water to make the lighter colours. This gives my work a rather warm, rich feeling. The sepia tones from the coffee and the addition of vintage papers and other found (sometimes discarded) objects creates a feeling of memories and a connection to a particular moment or the past. I enjoy adding pieces of paper and objects to add little pops of colour or humour, which help tie in with the theme or feeling of the subject matter.

Coffee is difficult to paint with (it’s nothing like water paint). It is unpredictable in its movement and flow. Once down on the white paper it can never be removed. It creates all sorts of flow, feathering, drips, splatters and bubbles. Even if it has a chance to fully dry, once it becomes wet again, it begins to move about again only to settle into something completely different. It very rarely does what I want it to do so I must accept the results or learn to flow along with it.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Trying to find a meaningful connection to another’s work is always difficult. A link to a moment or feeling which not only expresses what the writer or I feel, but what the viewer can also relate to.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

Art is extremely beneficial to everyone. It’s in everything we see from a bottle of pop to the Statue of David, or from a child’s finger painting to the Mona Lisa, or even a garbage can to the Calgary Tower.

Art makes people optimistic about their future. Art can be used to help spread a message of inspiration, making people achieve great things in life. Art can be a form of communication between people, to focus on common issues for the betterment of humankind.


Name: Judy Dufort (Writer)

Partner: Melissa Bruglemans-LaBelle

Title of Piece: Caprice

Are you Airdrie based? Yes

Artist Style/Genre: High fantasy

Please describe your process in creating your piece.

I worked backwards starting with the painting and attempted to recreate what happened before the scene of the bumblebee.

The questions I asked myself were:

  • What took place in the far past and/or recent past that produced the bumblebee?
  • How could these events culminate and interact together?
  • What would trigger a reaction to these events?
  • How would one describe these events?
  • Can one imagine the possible scenarios and the trigger points of the story?

Several scenarios were created that generated different explanations and timeframes. I finally arrived at this conclusion: the only way the bumblebee can be explained is by a fairy tale.

I started the response with “Once upon a time.…”

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

The most challenging aspect was sorting through all the possibilities and creating a single cohesive narrative.

What is your vision for arts in Airdrie?

My vision for the arts in Airdrie is Airdrie Public Library Writer in Residence Program and, Airdrie Public Library Artist in Residence Program.



Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, a king and queen lived in a castle filled with treasures, servants and sadness. The royal couple had no children.

After many years of heartache, the queen gave birth to a girl. The king declared a celebration. Neighbouring realms were invited to celebrate the birth of the princess with the expectation of fulfilling their regal obligations.

Nearby empires answered the invitation. Sovereigns laden with gifts arrived in glorious coaches pulled by magnificent charges. Nobles wore elaborate robes trimmed with the finest furs.

At the end of the imperial procession walked an elderly dignified woman in outworn clothing. The timeworn woman presented a quilt to the ruling monarchs. It was made of leaves, dew drops, wildflowers, white clover and sunbeams stitched with cord grass.

“How dare you insult the court with your presence?” The king bellowed.

The queen shrieked. “Debris from the forest floor is not fit for royalty.” In her outrage the queen hurled the quilt above the royal court.

The quilt unfurled and came to rest on the floor. The stately woman retrieved the quilt and positioned it on her rounded shoulders. Dandelion wisps enveloped her from head to toe revealing the Queen of the Sunsprites.

“The poison of your ungratefulness will not go unanswered.” The Sunsprite Queen disappeared in an explosion of sunbeams.

The infant princess laughed as the sunbeams danced and sparkled. She captured a sunbeam in her hand, turned into a bumblebee and whished away.


To learn more about other exciting ARTember events taking place around the city this month, flip to page 10 of our Fall arts edition by clicking here.