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Interview with artist: Nadine Argo


1- Can you explain your choice of colours and designs for AOE Arts Council’s Shenkman Arts Centre picnic table community art project?

The choice for the colours was to be bright and fun but that would work with the space in front of the Arts Centre. I decided to use primary (red, yellow, blue) and secondary colours (orange, purple, green) as they are the building blocks for all colours. I decided not to use black or white to have all the colours interact.

For the first three rectangular tables, I focused on using bold geometric shapes to express the culture, languages and land that form the Ottawa East communities. The first table design shows interlocked rings to depict the different cultures coming together. It is kind of a take on the Olympic rings. The second table represents the history and geography of the region with its farmland and river. The third table has circles representing different thought bubbles and speech to highlight the exchange between different languages superimposed on backgrounds of red and blue to represent English and French. The fourth table is a colourful representation of the Arts found at the Shenkman Arts Centre.


2-Will the stain finish on the tables last long? What is the product guarantee?

Yes they should last well, it is a durable outdoor stain made for decks and furniture, it will protect the wood and I think the tables are being stored indoors for the winter. They may need a touch up along the way but they should hold up very well to public use. The tables are in part a donation from RONA Gloucester.

3-What did you gain from this community art experience?

It was fun to do, it was interesting to work abstractly and in bold colours; this is very different from what I usually do. I am also looking forward to the next phase of the project where I will paint the three winning hexagon picnic table designs.

4-How will the winning entries be realized onto the hexagonal picnic tables?

The designs will already be in a hexagonal shape. If the successful entry is too complex it may need to be simplified. The design will then be drawn onto the table and painted. I will take the winning design, transfer it to the table and fill paint the areas as suggested by the contest winners.


5-Have you always use sculpture as your primary medium?

Yes, I primarily do figurative sculpture, it is the way I find it most natural to express myself. I work in many different mediums but like working in wax to do bronzes and clay the most.

6-How do you proceed when you create a piece? What inspires or motivates you to create?

I start mostly with sketches. I like drawing out the ideas I have first as it clarifies the idea in my mind. Also, in sculpture often you have to think of internal structures and balance, so it is good to have a plan before you get started. Then my work comes together pretty quickly, with a lot of fine tuning and finishing. I like exploring human emotions and experiences.


7-How did you become a teacher? Why do you like to teach art?

I am a self-taught teacher; I have been working with and teaching children for over 22 years in different capacities. I love teaching and developing programs. I teach both children and adult art classes and find it a lot of fun and very rewarding.

8-Why do you like community art projects?

I think community art projects, like this project and the past mural project with Gallery OSA, and the Orleans Festival, to be wonderful opportunities for the AOE Arts Council and the Shenkman Arts Centre to create with the community and invite participation with artists by working with residents, and as a community as a whole. I also have a public commission work at the Northern Division Police Station in Edmonton, this is a life size sculptural work.

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