Marc Walter is a land artist whose Art Place project will involve co-creating sculptures made from natural materials with the youth and community members on Jasmine Crescent. The sculptures will be built through November and December in Jasmine Park and at the Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard. He is partnering with the Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre and the Jasmine Crescent Safety Committee for this project.
As a land artist, Marc Walter’s work uses natural materials, such as branches and string, to create sculptures in public spaces. “I used to create mixed media and paintings with recycled materials indoors. One day I was working on a series of paintings for a gallery, and it was so nice outside so I went to see if I could feel the outdoors, and I started creating. At first they were very small pieces but they grew naturally into the larger pieces they are today with recycled branches.”
While land art combines Marc’s passion for the outdoors and mixed media, he also found it created a human connection. “The wall between the artist and visitors was less. I noticed that the reactions of the visitors were much more visceral and natural than they were before. People were coming to me and commenting, and they were adding to the process by telling me stories and how they felt. It was something so different to me.”
Though Marc still does the majority of his work within the studio, working on 12 to 20 solo projects a year, he has found that his co-creative work complements his artistic practice. “The collective process brings something new, reactions, stories and emotions, from which I can extract ideas and enrich my own process. There is a pleasure in creating together which is really valuable, because as an artist you often work alone and I don’t see myself just working alone. I like exchanging ideas, I like society being an open-door environment and land art does that.”
Of his co-creative projects, Marc says that the one which sticks with him the most was a commission for a man with Parkinson’s disease. The wife, who commissioned the piece, originally wanted Marc to create a piece on his own on their property but he suggested that friends and family partake in a co-creation. “It was a very successful and very human based process. It is one of my best memories to date,” Marc says recalling how everyone shared stories about their friend as they contributed to the sculpture. The piece grew even more when the gentleman with Parkinson’s spent an extra week creating his own land art sculpture in response.
While he has been making art since he was a child it was not until Marc came to Ottawa that he began to pursue art as a career. “I took a course to improve my English language and a teacher asked what our ideal job would be; I said visual artist even though I didn’t know I would end up doing it full-time. Now, I get up every morning motivated by my job. I don’t live to make a living, or I don’t make a living to live. But I live to make a living. It’s rare in our society. Some people have a job that allows them to do activities they like. I am lucky enough to enjoy every part of my job. It gives me balance in my family life and it lets me add to the lives of those I work with.”
What excites Marc about this project is that it will take place directly within the community. “It will be very exposed. I am curious to see how many people will come and participate. I hope that just the presence of the art process will trigger some interest, one way or another. Even just questioning the project could be really interesting. I am certainly hoping they will appropriate it. What you want is impact. It isn’t just the number of participants, if people stop by and observe and potentially work hands on, that is impact. It’s something as small as raising an eyebrow or asking a question.”
For Mark, the program coincides with his goals as an artist and community member. “I am always interested to try new things. Art Place is unique like that because it allows me to reach a new clientele. I like to reach out to communities that are not sensitive to the arts. I find that too many people will say ‘I am not an artist I can’t be doing this or that,’ ‘I am not a good painter or drawer.’ As a self-taught artist I think that anyone can do anything that they want to do almost, especially in the arts where there can be so much freedom.”
To find out more about Marc Walter’s land art project with the community on Jasmine Crescent, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and keep your eye on ArtPlace blog for updates as all the 2016-2017 projects progress!