Blog post 3 – December 21, 2015 by Alisdair MacRae
For the fourth week of my placement, I was very excited at the progress made with the projects that would offer tangible benefits. Various companies could embroider Jason’s drawing onto some toques. However, I struggled with the opportunity to produce a worthwhile number of hats while offering the chance for others to contribute designs. There was also the issue of paying more for a warmer hat. In the end, I’d estimated that roughly 70 hats could be produced within my budget, and 6 people could contribute designs. That seemed better than ordering a large number of cheap hats with fewer design options.
I had purchased some hide that Matt had requested from Zelikovitz Leathers. I also picked up a hoop for a really large dream catcher, some white and blue sinew, and aluminum cones for attaching feathers to strands of hide. I was really pleased about buying a lace maker. The lace maker allows a person to cut strips of leather, working the material in a circular motion. Up to 8 feet of lace can be cut from a 4 inch square.
Somehow, the experience with the lacemaker was really pivotal. It drove home how I was learning from the group. That learning experience started when John and Matt had shown me how to work on a dreamcatcher. Each time someone shared one of their experiences working on various projects, it also made clear that I wasn’t the only artist or teacher present. I had an open idea about creativity when starting the project. However, it was nice to see that idea play out.
Jason arrived towards the end of the class. I had arranged the cards on the table, and showed him the sample photo of what the hats would look like. He was very pleased, and couldn’t stop talking about the various possibilities for the images he had created. I learned about his experience working with UNICEF, and how artists created cards to help raise money. He was still very humble about his contribution, but he seemed happy to receive the gift certificates, saying he could use them to buy new headphones. Jason showed me some more of his artwork that he had stored on a phone. The drawings were very colourful and imaginative, and his style was consistent with the work that he’d already done. I was only sorry the hats wouldn’t arrive until 5 January, that he couldn’t see them sooner.
Towards the end of the class, I shook hands with all the participants and wished them a happy holiday. I assured Lee and the rest of the group that I’d be back on 4 January, as I’d be out of town on 28 December. Lee indicated that there would likely be more people showing in January, as it would be colder. He explained that some of the clients would rather sleep outside of the shelter if they could, even if it was under a bridge. I didn’t ask why that was, but could only guess that, like anyone else, it had to do with a sense of independence. In some cases, maybe that sense drove some people farther away from society then most would consider comfortable, or normal. I would never ask any of the clients why they came to be at the shelter. I was just happy that I could share the time that we had together.
Alisdair MacRae received a BFA from the University of Victoria in 1998, an MFA from Bard College in 2002, and completed a graduate thesis in Art History at Carleton University in 2012. MacRae uses plans to examine community and exchange, experienced through a do-it-yourself approach that enables social interactions.