A word from Céline Le Merlus, curator of the Stewart Hall Art Gallery
The Geopoetics project was a huge success, more than what we could have ever hoped, and you, the public and colleagues were the key to this success. Two years ago, the general director M. Weemaes came to us and asked for an ambitious project to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada at Stewart Hall. After a lot of discussions we realized that our voices were not enough to represent the entirety of Canada’s identity, and so we decided that this project would be a very special project, not one to be simply created and then presented to the public, but one that would invite the public into the creation process itself.
The first step was to brainstorm with the community on why we are proud to be Canadians, and what it is about Canada that we want to celebrate exactly. Throughout these discussions and workshops, a few keywords consistently came up: nature, environment, diversity, liberty, respect … all the values we share as a population and make us all Canadians despite our many differences. These became the foundation on which we could build the project.
The second step was finding the right person to turn these ideas into reality. For this we had the opportunity of working with artistic curator Kasia Basta. Rather than finding works of art created by artists in their studio, which would then be presented to the public, she was tasked to find artists who would incorporate the public into the creation process, so as to continue and enrich the collective reflections initiated earlier: Who are we? What precisely makes us Canadian? What about Canada makes us proud … or perhaps a bit less so.
Most of the works presented in Stewart Park and even in the art gallery could not have been done without your input and participation. And even the few that could, became the center of several activities in cultural mediation that encouraged visitors to reflect on the important question at the heart of each work.