What: Gently Used at the Nina Haggerty Gallery
When: Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.,
Where: 9225 118 St NW, Edmonton, AB T5G 0K6
Artists Featured: Ryan Andrade, Megan Klak, Kiona Ligtvoet, Roseanna Nay, Anica Neiman, and Jennifer Penkov
When an art student graduates, finding a footing in the world of professional art can be overwhelming. One local gallery is hoping to give new artists the exposure they need.
The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts has been home to the RBC Emerging Artists Project for the past several years. The 14-week program focuses on helping aspiring artists learn networking skills and make connections with members of the local art community. Each year, art students from across the province apply, and after a competitive adjudication process, a handful are selected. The program culminates in an exhibition of the students’ artwork.
Several current and recently graduated University of Alberta Bachelor of Fine Arts students took part this year and their art is currently being shown in the Nina Stollery Gallery. Entitled Gently Used, the exhibition runs until August 29th.
One of the featured artists, fourth-year BFA student Anica Neiman, said that the title was chosen because of its wide range of possible interpretations.
“A common thread in all of our work is the importance of narrative,” she explained. “Whether the narratives in our art [stem] from personal experiences, storytelling, family history, or referencing pop culture, we felt like ‘Gently Used’ was a great way to open up discussions about the themes that are important to our practices.”
Neiman, who aspires to have her own painting and printmaking practice once she graduates, says that the “raw creativity” of the artists at the Nina inspired her. She also found support in her fellow artists.
“All of our art is so different from one another,” she said. “But I feel like the work we put in the show complement each other’s strengths and individuality.”
The style and voice of each individual artist shines through the art pieces. Neiman’s artwork depicts figures bent over or not facing the viewer, creating a sense of detachment from the self and others. Megan Klak, another artist featured in the exhibition, contrasts vibrant oranges and yellows with muted blues, blacks and greys, evoking isolation and warmth at the same time. Each artist uses different techniques to weave narratives into their art, which makes for an interesting and varied exhibition.
Besides giving the artists exposure and creative inspiration, the program also teaches artists how to get their work from the easel to the museum. Klak, a recent BFA graduate, found the networking aspect of the program quite useful.
“Panel presentations from local artists and arts organizations were really helpful,” she said. “There is less emphasis in school on the practical management side of selling work.”
Being a professional artist means applying for grants and crafting proposals, things that art students aren’t always taught. Programs like this one help make up for the lack of knowledge, teaching new artists to be in control of their careers.
Leslieanna Blackner, the Nina’s community engagement coordinator, said that hosting the RBC Emerging Artists Project is part of the Nina’s mission to enrich the local community through art and give a platform to those who might not otherwise have one.
“It’s the same kind of ethos that Arts on the Ave supports,” Blackner said. “That when you create art in a community, you can uplift a community. And that’s very important to all the work we do.”
For more information on the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts, visit their website.