October 19 - 22, 2016

The sixth annual A Handmade Assembly, hosted by the Owens Art Gallery and Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre with support from the Fine Arts Department at Mount Allison University, featured workshops, talks, and projects by Heather Anderson (Ottawa ON), Jennifer Bélanger (Moncton, NB), Sarah Gotowka (Trumansburg, NY), Lesley Johnson (New York City, NY), Ursula Johnson (Dartmouth, NS), kipjones (Toronto, ON), Breanna Little (Winnipeg, MB), Niki Little (Winnipeg, MB), Shake-n-Make (Hamilton, ON), Anne J Steves (Cumberland, BC), Becca Taylor (Edmonton, AB), Tara K Wells (Sackville, NB) and Shoshanna Wingate (Sackville, NB).

Opening Night Roundtable Discussion

Wednesday, October 19, 7:30pm
Sackville Curling Club

The Assembly activities began with an Opening Night Roundtable Discussion moderated by Adriana Kuiper with Lesley Johnson, kipjones, Claudia Manley, and Becca Taylor. Participants shared short presentations on topics related to the handmade in contemporary culture as it relates to their own research or art practices, followed by questions from the moderator and audience.

Workshop: Dry Pressed Flower Arranging
– Sarah Gotowka

Thursday, October 20, 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Struts & Faucet

Participants made their own dry-pressed flower arrangement using Sarah Gotowka's own floral archives. She revealed her techniques of dry-pressing, glueing and arranging. All flowers were grown by the artist herself in upstate NY, or given to her by friends and local florists.

Workshop: Latex Readymades
– kipjones

Friday, October 21 & Saturday, October 22
Struts & Faucet

This workshop was an introduction into the properties of latex rubber. Participants learn how latex can be used as a soft replica of positive forms. kipjones is an active and experienced Toronto public artist, sculptor and instructor. His artistic research addresses the complex potentialities of space through site-specific installations, public art and object making. www.kipjonesart.com

Exhibition: Mammas
– Jennifer Bélanger

Friday, October 21, 8:30pm – 10:00pm
Struts & Faucet

"When I was 19 my parents bought me a guitar in the hopes that I would learn to play some of my father’s songs. After months of frustration and no improvement, the guitar was stowed in its case and slid under the bed where it remained for over 20 years. Last year I took it out again and made myself practice everyday. This video is the result of that daily challenge towards developing new skills and bettering my abilities all the while putting my patience to the test. Sadly, I am not half as good at playing guitar as I should be after this amount of time." Jennifer Bélanger is constantly making her life difficult by picking projects that challenge her skills and limited patience. Sometimes she thinks art ruined her life. On the dreary days when inspiration reels and the tip of her nose shadows her line of vision, she writes herself letters of encouragement and sends them in the mail. ineverreallylikedyou.blogspot.ca

Workshop: Reverse Glass Painting
– Lesley Johnson

Saturday, October 22, 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Struts & Faucet

A traditional sign painting method that can be seen on storefronts around the world, painting backwards on pieces of glass allows the art to be protected by the glass itself. In this workshop, Lesley provided visual examples of a range of styles and approaches, and worked with participants, using traditional sign painting techniques, in creating their own piece that should actually last forever.

Artist Talk: We On A Ultra Light Beam: Searching for the Sacred in Popular Culture
– Sarah Gotowka

Thursday,October 20, 9:30am
Owens Art Gallery

Sarah Gotowka’s art practice is rooted in textiles and popular culture. She focuses on contemporary issues and figures such as twerking, Beyoncé and singledom, as well as the consumption of alcohol in the club scene. Through handmade objects and digital installations, she questions if the sacred could still exist in these appropriated rituals and spaces. Parallel to this conceptual body of work, Gotowka co-founded The Color Collective in collaboration with two other artists to grow natural dye plants in Montréal without the interference of chemicals or machines. It was then that she fell in love with growing color and began implementing natural mediums into her ongoing textile and material practice. This artist talk chronicled Gotowka’s strange journey from Beyoncé, to natural dyes, to Thai food, to flowers, then back to Beyoncé. www.saagoto.com

Workshop: The Work Room
– Tara K. Wells

Thursday, October 20 & Friday, October 21
1:00pm – 5:00pm
Struts & Faucet

The Work Room is an open workshop space with refreshments, music, and a few extra bits and bobs to help your projects or to get you started on something new! Participants were free to drop-in and come and go as they wished. Tara K. Wells ran The Work Room again this year, this time making dimensional fabric flowers. She gladly demonstrated how to hand sew some pretty sweet flowers using fabric scraps.

Workshop: Eco Printing
– Shoshanna Wingate

Friday October 21, 9:30am – 2:00pm
Struts & Faucet

In this workshop, participants learned a variety of eco printing techniques, including fabric preparation and how to shift colour with additives such as vinegar and rust, using local leaves and flowers to create a beautiful silk scarf. Shoshanna Wingate is a textile artist and writer. Under the label Shoshi Designs, she creates elegant wearable art using natural dyes and eco prints, or contact prints with plants. www.shoshidesigns.com

Workshop: Privately Public
– Ursula Johnson

Saturday, October 22, 10:00am – 1:00pm
Struts & Faucet

Ursula Johnson shared various methodologies for public participation that she has employed within her artistic practice. Johnson is an emerging performance and installation artist of Mi’kmaw First Nation ancestry. She graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design and has participated in over 30 group shows and 5 solo exhibitions. Johnson’s recent work Mi’kwite’tmn employs various sculptural mediums to create consideration from her audience about aspects of intangible cultural heritage as it pertains to the consumption of traditional knowledge within the context of colonial institutions. www.ursulajohnson.ca

Closing Address
– Heather Anderson

Saturday, October 22, 8:00pm
Struts & Faucet

A Handmade Assembly came to an end on Saturday evening with a closing address delivered by Heather Anderson. Anderson shared a collection of thoughts inspired by what she had observed over the course of the four-day event and offered some insight into the role that the handmade plays in contemporary culture. Heather Anderson is interested in art practices that engage the social, political, and emotional complexities of our experiences in the world through aesthetic encounters across a range of media and approaches. Anderson is curator at the Carleton University Art Gallery.

Artist Talk: Catching Up The Slender Thread: string figures and loose threads
– Anne J Steves

Thursday, October 20, 11:00am
Owens Art Gallery

Within the motions of string on fingers are held tales of place, community and family. Passed on person to person, face to face, hand to hand, these memories bare the mark of the conditions in which they were formed. As an element of her craft-aesthetic art practice, BC artist Anne J Steves has been working with string as a means of measuring place and recording community. Her artist talk provided a background into the collecting of string games, the ephemeral nature of string communications and the ways in which these handmade histories have influenced her practice. www.annejsteves.myportfolio.com

Workshop: English Paper Piecing 
– Shake-n-Make

Thursday, October 20, 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Struts & Faucet

The Shake-n-Make art collective hosted an English Paper Piecing workshop. Part of an exhibition titled The Hand of Craft, the Shake-n-Make collective is creating a 14’ x 16’ quilt top using the English paper piecing technique. By taking in the workshop, participants agreed to leave their finished materials behind for incorporation into the quilt top, to be exhibited at The Cotton Factory in Hamilton, Ontario, in May 2017. All participants are credited as contributors. Shake-n-Make (members: Claudia Manley & Liss Platt) is a queer art collective whose work directly references the 1970s while elevating craft and subject matter beyond kitsch to speak to our current moment.

Artist Project: Coy Wolf dinner menu
– Lesley Johnson

October 19 – 22
Coy Wolf Bistro

Lesley designed the Coy Wolf dinner menu in her hand lettering and illustration style that can be seen in some of the top restaurants in NY. Lesley Johnson is a NYC based lettering artist. A Mount A grad and former Sackvillian, Lesley moved to the United States a few years ago to pursue her illustration and hand-lettering. Her work has appeared in Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine, and in many of the top restaurants in NYC. Her lettering was given an Award of Excellence by Communication Arts Magazine and was featured in their 2014 Typography Annual. www.lesleyjohnsonimages.com

Artist Talk: pihtonikewin
– Breanna Little, Niki Little, Becca Taylor

Friday, October 21, 2:30pm
Owens Art Gallery

The animal hide represents community, sacrifice, ceremony, and the interdependence of Nature and its inhabitants. Traditionally, women would gather together in the community to prepare the hides working communally, sharing teachings, conversations, and spending time together. Contemporarily, the value, ceremony, and spirit of the animal have lost its presence within the production of the hide and the sense of community and legacy of the teachings has vanished. Throughout the presentation, the artists explored the concepts surrounding pihtonikewin, the memories within each of the makers, evoking personal narratives around family stories, genetic memory, cultural teachings and how we engaged the urban landscape attempting to experience/personalize a Traditional practice, exploring their own cultural understanding of the materials, and their relation to the land.