Alisdair MacRae

Project check-in with Alisdair MacRae


February 9, 2016

What changes did you notice in the participants through the course of your workshops?

Unfortunately by the 8th week of the program, two people had left the workshop due to not maintaining their standing with the Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre, for various reasons.

The one person who has been to each session except one had developed more complex ideas about the art work he was producing. At first, this person had only worked on small projects, and didn’t seem to think he was “artistic enough” to work on anything larger. He did take the opportunity to work on a large collage when given the chance, and has become very invested in it.

Another person who appeared during the first sessions in December returned in January, and began creating some very impressive work. However, he did not appear on 1 February, but will hopefully return this week. Otherwise, some new people have shown up in January, sometimes just for one session. I think it is fair to say that everyone has enjoyed themselves, and are pleased to have the space and materials to work with. I also think they are very pleased when they ask for a particular material, and we can provide it by the next week. At the very least, it gives them some sense that they matter, and have some input into the workshop.

What issues were the participants able to voice through this artistic expression in their participation in Art Place?

The issues can be fairly personal, given their situations and interest in various types of art work. However, I think that overall the participants have been able to give voice to their ability to come to terms with certain obstacles in their lives. Many of the participants are in addictions treatment programs, often for very complicated reasons besides simply being addicted to a particular substance. So, their work might express dealing with challenges that have affected their lives, and how they overcame those challenges. For instance, one participant was worked on a piece that offers ideas about many religious beliefs. I think in addition to his own Christian beliefs, he wants to offer viewers something they can contemplate from their own perspective.

Another participant is working with a poem about overcoming hatred, transferring the text onto a large canvas surface. The lines of the poem serve as reminders about the destruction that can result from giving in to hateful emotions.

How will the items that the participants created have an impact or be useful to others at Salvation Army Booth Centre? Will they be displayed, distributed or otherwise shared? How will this affect the space or the participants?

Some of the items created by participants will be displayed in the organization as art work. There are not many pictures or objects on display at the Ottawa Booth Centre, possibly due to  the difficulty in maintaining them. The other items that were created so far offering more tangible benefits, including greeting cards and articles of clothing, are distributed to the people who have helped create them and the staff of the centre for further distribution. The people that have helped create some of these items have so far been very pleased with the opportunity, particularly having access to the resources. Given that the Ottawa Booth Centre is a temporary point of transition in all of their lives, I think some are happy to give something back. Others might just be happy to receive something while they are there.

For more information on Alisdair MacRae’s Art Place residency.

Thanks for sharing / Merci d’avoir partagé!

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