• Event Dates:      June 6 – 22, 2013
  • Thursday June 6
    • 7pm-7:45pm – Exhibits open, installations ACTIVE
    • 7:45pm – 8:30pm – MODERATED DIALOGUE
  • Friday June 7: 10am-9pm:  Exhibits open, installations static
  • Saturday, June 8
    • 10am-9pm:  Exhibits open, installations static
    • 7pm – 9pm:  Opening Reception, with presentations at 7:30pm
  • June 10 – June 22:        Exhibits Open during regular gallery hours, Monday – Saturday:  10am-5pm

Media > Art > Social Change

Start Here: Re-imagining the Comox Valley – People, Places & Things

MASC_Start-Here-logo_webDo you have something on your mind or feel something powerful about your community and don’t know where to express it? Beginning on Thursday June 6, in conjunction with Elevate the Arts, the Comox Valley Art Gallery will be hosting an installation in the Contemporary Gallery entitled Start Here: Re-imagining the Comox Valley – People, Places and Things – providing the public with interactive and creative mediums to share their ideas and stories. The installation will run until June 22 with opportunity for the public to give input into the works during the Elevate the Arts event, June 6 to June 8.

Start Here is a community engagement project developed by CVAG in partnership with Imagine Comox Valley, the North Island College Fine Art Department, Highland Secondary, Elevate the Arts and a number of community animators. The highly interactive display uses a range of media to explore individual and group perceptions of the Valley. The project partners saw an opportunity to use the popular Elevate the Arts event to harness some of the creative inspirations that are anticipated from the event, and to incorporate them into an art installation.

“We had such a positive response from people who attended Elevate the Arts last year,” says Meaghan Cursons, coordinator for Elevate the Arts. “People were bubbling with ideas and imagining the potential of the Valley in terms of community collaboration and creative uses of public space. This year, Start Here will provide an outlet for those daring to dream.”

Everyone of the Start Here partnership is motivated to help people express their ideas for the most positive, sustainable and fulfilling Comox Valley that can be imagined, recognizing that the community faces multiple challenges such as affordable housing and homelessness, ecological pressures, the proposed coal mines, struggling local businesses and rapid growth.  “Art is often used to challenge people’s perceptions and encourage public dialogue,” says Sharon Karsten, Executive Director of the Gallery. “Combining creative approaches with the use of media can be a powerful medium for social change. We hope that the installation will inspire action towards our collective visions for the Valley.”

The project is named Start Here to acknowledge that people will be coming from many different backgrounds, different perspectives, and even activities on the day of the event. Start Here provides an opportunity for personal reflection, and collective discovery, regardless of a person’s previous involvement in art installations or community engagement forums or public life.

“The Here that you can start with to make your community what you want it to be starts with you, where you are now,” continues Karsten. “It includes everything between small gestures such as passing on kindness in our daily interactions, to the grand such as speaking out on matters of importance. The lovely thing about making our communities better is that it can start anywhere, including right here.”

The installation uses a spectrum of techniques such as citizen journalism, video, photography, mapping, play, model building, good old pen and paper and even robots to encourage people to tell their stories. People will be invited to share their lived experiences through the various media, and express how they could imagine the world as different. Some of the installations will be static (presenting works for public consumption) while others will be additive (accepting input from the public). The installations will be displayed for two weeks after the Elevate the Arts event for general public viewing. The ‘data’ from the event will be used by Imagine Comox Valley to create a multi-media presentation of a co-created vision that may be available at CVAG and other venues in the future.

Imagine Comox Valley saw a tremendous opportunity to harness the creative ideas from the community through the Start Here project,” says Pieter Vorster, director of Imagine Comox Valley. “Our organization’s mission is to help people re-imagine the Comox Valley as a truly sustainable place, for everyone. In order to help do that, we have to have a baseline ‘snapshot’ of what people care about in their community and what they think about on the day to day. Start Here will provide data for that snapshot.”

“People will be invited to share their stories and visions on any topic. The only criterion is that it be something that’s important to you. It may be as political as the proposed coal mines, or as seemingly mundane as traffic,” says Karsten. “And participation is voluntary of course. If you just want to come in and have a look, that’s ok too!”

Start Here is comprised of a series of installations from individual community artists and animators:

Adjacent to Start Here, in the Community Gallery is an exhibit called Photopia.  Programmed as a component of the Comox Valley’s Elevate the Arts festival, Photopia is a digital exhibition of photography.  Photographers from the Comox Valley were asked to explore the question: What’s really happening in the Comox Valley? What do you see that you want to share with your community?  and to explore the weird, wild and wonderful facets of the Comox Valley that make up this place and its various inhabitants.  They will uncover, unearth, tell stories and share their visions in six different categories:  Utopia, Dystopia, Wild, Weird and Bizarre, People, Animals, and Manipulated /Transformed. The selected outstanding images will be displayed in the Gallery on large flat screen TV’s, generously donated by London Drugs.  Awards for outstanding images will be presented at 8pm, at the Gallery during the reception on Saturday June 8th.  Photopia is also sponsored by Imagine Comox Valley and Elevate the Arts.

In the George Sawchuk GalleryFrom Here to There is an exhibit of mixed media artworks from the 3-5 year old students of Roseberry Preschool.  These works illuminate the visual and contextual journey of ongoing project work by the children.  The journeys of exploration and inquiry include: “Exploring Identity,” “Dancing with Dinosaurs”, “When Water Flows, Where Does It Go?” and “The Job site”.  The Group of Under Seven will also present a project in collaboration with interdisciplinary artist Angela Somerset, whom has been working with the children to support and inspire a dialogue between the children’s work and the concurrent exhibition “Start Here”.

Exhibits kicks off on Thursday evening June 6th at 7pm-9pm, with a Community Dialogue, are open10am-9pm on Friday June 7th, as well as Saturday June 8th during Elevate the Arts from 10am-9pm, with a reception at 7pm on Saturday evening.  CV Art Gallery is located at 580 Duncan Avenue in downtown Courtenay.

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