Originally Published in the Jan/Feb 2024 Bowest’ner – Interview and story by Logan Renaud
Tell us about yourself and your history with the neighborhood.
I moved to Bowness maybe five or six years ago and have been in Calgary since 2013. My grandparents lived here and grew up here, so I’ve always come in and out of Calgary. I chose to move here because it has a really strong community with a lot of diversity.
How did you come to be an artist and what medium do you specialize in?
I am a stop-motion animator. Which means I mostly sculpt, using a variety of mediums. My style looks somewhat realistic so it is similar to making miniatures. I became an animator pretty recently, though I did create a lot of puppets and art as a child. In 2020, I was working in social work, helping people who were unhoused find housing. During the pandemic, everything was shutting down, and it impacted that population tenfold. A lot of people were dying, and that really impacted me. I needed to step back a bit and that is when I turned to art. It had been such a big part of my youth and I knew that it would help me process what I was experiencing. I also wanted to depict what I was seeing and help those community members express their experiences. So I came up with an idea for a film and applied to a residency with Quickdraw Animation Society.
In about 2017, I did a little bit of work with a local production house called Bleeding Art making prosthetics as well as things like snot, slime and fake blood. They also had a bit of a stop-motion studio and they released a couple of shorts. One of the staff from there actually mentored me during my film project. She helped me with the urethane and silicone casting, but beyond that I mostly taught myself with tutorials.
My home studio is still set up in my kitchen and it is taking over! I have a down-shooter, camera and computer setup for
animating, and then my puppets and sets. There’s so much stuff — fabric, foam… all sorts of stuff!
What benefits do you see in artists and communities working together?
The film I made follows a main character who is living in an encampment as she tries to find housing. The story was actually written by folks who have had that lived experience. I was able to get funding from the Calgary Foundation, allowing me to pay honorariums to participants, and together we came up with the storyline. They also helped with the fabrication, and did the voice acting of the two main characters.
So it was a community project, it wasn’t just me.
The film was actually just released in November! It premiered at Quickdraw’s animation festival, called GIRAF.
With one short film under your belt, are there any moments or stories that stand out from your artistic career so far?
I think the film meant a lot to the folks who participated. I shared the stage with two of the co-writers last Thursday and they were so, so excited to be there. It was a big moment for all of us and we were all really proud of the film. It was really important to them to spread awareness about how hard it is to be unhoused. The film talks about how many barriers there are from being unhoused to being housed — it is not as straightforward as people think it is.
Tell us what you have in store for Bowness as the next ARTS featured artist!
There are two parts:
For the community project, we will be building a miniature stop-motion set of Bowness. It does not need to be exact or perfect, but it will be something we create together!
Then for the workshop series, we’ll be designing and building puppets then animating them using the set that we created in the community project.