Jason Skinner captures life in Lunenburg. (photo courtesy Jason Skinner)

NSCAD grads go rural

Residency program brings art workshops to small towns

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The Nova Scotia School of Art and Design is branching out. Two recent graduates represent the NSCAD Community Studio Residency Program at the 2012 Annual Arts and Crafts Trade Show in Halifax.

Jason Skinner and Annalise Prodor both graduated with a bachelor of fine arts from NSCAD in 2011. Since graduating from their program Skinner has been working out of Lunenburg and Prodor out of New Glasgow. They are two of six grad-students in total, three working in New Glasgow and three working in Lunenburg, who have been participating in the residency programs throughout the past year.

The works being featured in the showcase are all done by the six graduates. Skinner, originally from the Toronto area has been working on  a series of paintings about what's important to people in small communities. He has three major pieces of art representing his findings including a painting themed around the post office and another themed around the library.

The piece featured today is themed around the Lunenburg Farmers' Market. The painting is like a collage. There are colorful vegetables and fruits, children, families, jams and a number of quotes spoken by people at the market; "the market punctuates the week."

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The Lunenburg farmers market painted by Jason Skinner. (photo courtesy Jason Skinner)

"People say my work represents the heart of the town, the glue that keeps Lunenburg together," says Skinner.

Their booth is one of hundreds being showcased throughout the three-day event. They are surrounded by paintings and ceramics of various shapes and sizes, including tea sets and abstracts.

Branching out

The NSCAD residency program provides recent graduate students with a free studio space in either Lunenburg or New Glasgow.  Other than the studio space, the recent graduates are on their own to provide for their room, board and food, so most of them work part time jobs.  

"Part of the agreement," says Skinner, "is we put on community workshops as well as workshops for the school."

Both of the municipalities of Lunenburg and New Glasgow have been helpful and supportive of the program, says Prodor. Skinner, who recently worked with Grade Primary students teaching them how to mix their colours, has been living above the fire hall in Lunenburg; his next workshop will be a yoga life drawing class in March featuring a yoga instructor and a nude model.

Prodor says she's sick of "just painting" and has been experimenting with video projection.  Her featured work at the tradeshow incorporates video projection, painting and fabrics, creating a fairly abstract piece.   

"I never go into a piece knowing what it's going to look like," says Prodor who describes her recent projects.  "I like giving clues to draw people onto my work, but I leave it so people interprate the piece on their own.  They're going to do it anyway, why not encourage them to do it."

The painting was drawn using inverted, blow-up and projected images onto canvas. Layers and texture make the work feel unique and not "just" a painting.  

The NSCAD booth stands out at the craft show, as part of their contract with the university, Skinner and Prodor committed to setting up a booth at the event. The pieces displayed in their booth lean on the side of fine art, whereas the rest of the exhibits are more craft based by comparison, and are looking to be bought out and mass produced.

The NSCAD residency program is relatively new.  Lunenburg is in its sixth year and New Glasgow is in its first. New plans for a program to be set up in Sydney, Cape Breton in 2012-13 are underway. While the program has largely slipped under the radar, the university is making a concerted effort to branch out across the Maritimes, bringing workshops and opportunity to rural communities


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