Peisen Ding (Vancouver)
Peisen Ding is a visual artist and an art educator living on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Peisen’s art practice often involves the exploration of urban relationships, such as relations with other individuals and built environments, through photography, painting, pottery, installation and/or whatever medium and form arise organically in the process. As a queer Chinese immigrant, it is also important for Peisen to discover what life brings when living with different identities and cultures, and how art can show care, love, and courage to others who have similar backgrounds. Peisen believes that art can not only help us see and empower ourselves but also has the responsibility to unfold what is happening and changing in society. This view has led Peisen to research education, diving deeper into what art can bring to the learning of ourselves and the world around us.
Culture Days Event: For Culture Days, Peisen created two projects presented at multiple locations. The first was an interactive exhibition named “Lost & Found,” shown at the grunt gallery and the Richmond Cultural Centre. This exhibition consisted of three parts: Chasing Clouds, Mind-Scape, and A Space to Belong. These three distinct parts served as windows into Peisen’s personal journey as a queer immigrant from China, as well as a narrative about navigating the complexities of city life and the emotions intertwined within. All the interactive artworks exhibited consisted of simple marks, shapes, and even mundane objects and worked to deliver care, courage, love, and strength to immigrant and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. The second project included a painting workshop, which was held at Richmond Cultural Centre twice and at Gordon Neighbourhood House once. At the workshops, Peisen shared his life experience as an immigrant and encouraged participants to share their own stories using specific artistic tools and techniques. The all ages workshop enabled participants to explore painting based on their lived experiences, in a fun and experimental way.
Mentor: Multidisciplinary artist, accessibility consultant, and arts worker, Kay Slater.
Natasha Lepine (Quesnel)
Natasha Lepine is a Métis artist who grew up in the small community of Wells, B.C., which kicked off her deep appreciation for both the outdoors and the arts. Throughout her school years, she found that most art classes didn’t focus on creativity as much as they did perfectionism. After graduating, Natasha decided her goal would be to channel emotions, stories, and fragments of ourselves that we’ve long forgotten into artwork. Since then, she has explored a variety of mediums but seems to enjoy creating with acrylic paints and polymer clay. Her work is often credited for bringing forward a “warm and comforting feeling” in others. Lately, she has been connecting with her Métis heritage and has been using elements of her ancestry in her polymer clay accessories. Throughout the summer months, Natasha travels across B.C. to attend multiple markets where she sells her work. Natasha also hosts a Teen Art Space in Quesnel, a safe space where youth come and are encouraged to simply create what they feel like with the materials provided. Her goal for the future is to continue inspiring the local youth to express themselves through art and to help motivate others into appreciating the beautiful combination of the outdoors and art.
Culture Days Event: Natasha guided local participants on a short accessible nature walk in Quesnel. The walk took place along Fuel Management Trails, a paved circular trail that provides scenic and peaceful access to the river environment. While on the nature walk, Natasha gave tips to participants on how to ground themselves and how to take note of the little gems that nature has to offer. After the walk, community participants gathered at a picnic table in the trail’s parking lot. Inspired by nature and the outdoor surroundings, the participants channelled their experience into visual art.
Mentor: Plein Air artist, Peter Corbett.
Erin Shuttleworth (Trail)
Erin is an internationally recognized visual storyteller with a passion for comics and illustration. She creates work with a focus on vulnerability, humour, and experimentation. Her credentials include a BFA in Studio Arts with a minor in Film Studies from the University of Victoria. She is currently pursuing an MA in Illustration through Falmouth University, with a projected graduation date of May 2024. Her aspirations are to make art more accessible and barrier-free by helping to demystify creative pursuits and the art world as a whole.
Culture Days Event: Erin facilitated a free-flowing Comic Jam at Trail’s IncrEDIBLE Farmer’s Market. Thirty participants at the event gained insight on how to craft their own comics. Erin also created free digital micro-workshops and tutorials on storytelling, style, comic layout, and character design. The content included video instruction (with ASL options) as well as a downloadable and printable tutorial package with multiple comic-style lesson booklets.
Mentor: Comic artist and publisher, Jeffrey Ellis.
Cameron Gelderman (Kelowna)
Oh, hey there. This is an introduction to Cameron Gelderman, a creative. Catch him using yarn and threads to translate internal thoughts into visual stimulants. Creating art has become his primary coping mechanism for depression and anxiety, and the direction of his vision is to continue weaving until he claims the title of greatest artist in the world, whilst inviting and engaging others to do so as well. The form of creation stems from process art. It’s about beginning and just going and breaking through the inhibitions, the worry, and the self doubt, and entering into the flow state. He uses movement of the hands to communicate the chaos of the mind.
Culture Days Event: For Culture Days, Cameron presented a community building art project at Kelowna S.H.A.R.E Society and Kilowna Friendship Society’s Creative Arts Festival. The Creative Arts Festival fostered a welcoming and community-driven atmosphere. The festival celebrated individuality and culture, offering music, Indigenous drumming and dance performances, as well as locally made bannock and other refreshments. At Cam’s event station, called “SHARE AIR Together,” Cam and community members engaged in yarn tying, creating a beautiful, colourful mural. Approximately 35 attendees contributed to the completion of two yarn-woven coffee tables, which will be donated to a local fundraiser to further support the community.
Mentor: Visual artist, teacher, musician, Patrick Lundeen.
Ann K Chou (Victoria)
Ann K Chou is a visual artist who works with spontaneous brushwork in Chinese calligraphy ink and acrylics. She was born in Hong Kong and grew up by the southern seaside of the island. Ann is a first-generation immigrant who is severely hard of hearing and on the autism spectrum. Her personal history and unique intersectionalities have influenced her art and her desire to create works that break down boundaries and celebrate diversity.
Her preferred art media are lanterns and wearable puppets, which she creates from a variety of materials such as papers, found objects, bamboo, grape vines, and fabrics. She has received training in photography, digital production, soft sculpture, and the language of arts and crafts from community centres and local art schools. Currently, she is in ScreenDance residency, where she is further honing her skills to create all-disabilities accessible art with captions, audio descriptions, and multi-sensory kits.
As a hard-of-hearing person with a deaf accent and a first-generation Cantonese-speaking immigrant, Ann often feels like she does not quite fit into any one community. However, rather than viewing this as a limitation, she embraces it as an opportunity to create something unique and unexpected. As an artist, she believes in the power of breaking things down to rebuild them in new and functional ways.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she rekindled her love for Chinese ink and brush painting, returning to simplicity and Zen. Ann hopes her art inspires others to embrace diversity, and she believes in accessibility to the arts for everyone.
Culture Days Event: Ann hosted three multimedia and accessibility-focused workshops at Quadra Village Community Centre in Victoria. Her workshops revolved around personal storytelling, the sharing of experiences related to navigating identities, and overcoming life’s challenges. Ann designed puppet making, lantern making, and multi-sensory workshops that provided participants with flexible storytelling prompts, enabling them to choose the depth and scope of their narratives. The overarching goal was to create connections and enhance community members’ abilities to convey their experiences. During her time as an ambassador, Ann was invited to host her lantern making workshop at a local primary school where she taught young students about using upcycled materials to create sensory artworks.
Mentor: Award winning television and stage puppeteer, Tim Gosley.
Summer Tyance (Vancouver)
Summer Tyance (Anishinaabe) is a Queer, Two-Spirit, multidisciplinary artist from Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek located in Northwestern Ontario. She is a self-taught painter who has been painting with acrylic for over ten years, and more recently also does beadwork. Other arts they are interested in and have been involved with are podcasting, improv, traditional hand drumming, singing, creative writing, film, and fancy shawl dancing. Summer utilizes art as a way to connect with their Anishinaabe culture, to heal, and to express spirit. She currently is based in Vancouver, BC or xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) territories.
Culture Days Event: Summer’s “Two-Spirit Indigenous Youth Hand Drum Workshop,” created space for Two-Spirit, Queer, Trans, and other gender fluid relatives. Trauma-informed and queer-led, the workshop was filled with important steps such as prayer, land acknowledgement, introductions, lunch, learning of songs, and more. Together, the participants created a Two-Spirit anthem. Summer co-hosted the event with their mentor. Two-Spirit Elder Bonaventure was also in attendance providing cultural and other support.
Mentor: Singer, songwriter, and recording artist, Norine Braun.
Cherie Chai (Prince George)
Cherie is a self-taught artist based in Prince George. As a speaker of multiple languages, Cherie has ten years of second language teaching experience under her belt. Deeply passionate about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Cherie founded a social enterprise called Speak Write Academy with the intention of promoting intercultural communication and fostering intercultural trust. Cherie has worked with various community organizations to roll out workshops promoting language and cultural learning. The art forms Cherie has experience with include basic puppetry, choral singing, musical instruments (guitar, piano, drums, and harmonica), mixed media art, and conceptual art. Cherie also holds a Diploma in Horticulture & Landscape Design from Singapore.
Culture Days Event: Cherie’s “Shadow Puppet Language Workshop” aimed to raise awareness of Sign Language, strengthen intercultural communication, contribute to Indigenous Language Revitalization, and promote diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, in a fun and creative way for all ages using Shadow Puppetry. Participants had the opportunity to learn elements of American Sign Language and nine other languages (French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Iranian Azari, Farsi and Dakelh) from volunteer language teachers from the community. A local Indigenous Elder was invited to teach Lheidli Dakelh.
Mentor: Visual artist, specializing in mask, puppet design, installations, and illustrations, Clelia Scala.
(Pronouns: she, her)
Facebook: Speak Write Academy
Tlanextli Coyotl aka Pablo Ochoa (Salt Spring Island)
Tlanextli Coyotl (Pablo Ochoa) is a Mexican dancer, art facilitator, caregiver, and user experience artist who is passionate about the potential of art to provide intentional spaces for creative expression and collective ritual in a secular context. They have a vast Indigenous bloodline from different parts of Mexico and identify as a queer, two-spirited person of colour. They have started using the náhuatl calendaric name, Tlanextli Coyotl, to reconnect with their origins. Tlanextli regularly works at a day program for people with special needs, facilitating both artistic and recreational activities, as well as providing day-to-day caregiving support. This includes working with individuals who are Deaf, hard of hearing, neurodivergent, chronically ill, and need varying levels of assistance. Their part-time work at the day program is complemented by their emergent career as an art facilitator, dance teacher, and user experience artist.
Culture Days Activity: Tlanextli’s two day community event “Community Canvas” provided a supportive framework for collective creation, allowing individuals with special needs to showcase their unique gifts, wisdom, and artistic creations. The workshop activities were presented in three ways, including low-barrier craft stations, a spoken word sharing circle, as well as movement practice.
Mentor: Group and movement facilitator, DJ, and activist, Shauna Devlin.
Regan Shrumm (Victoria)
Regan Shrumm is a queer and genderqueer disabled artist, curator, and educator, who has been living on and off the traditional and unceded lands of the Lkwungen-speaking peoples (Victoria, B.C.) for the last 14 years. They are an interdisciplinary artist, whose main practices are social practice, performance, and textiles. Their work is often built on collaboration planning with the community, participatory events, and reciprocal in offering knowledge, learning, and unlearning. They have an MA in Art History from the University of Victoria but have been mostly self-taught in their artistic practices. They have been in residency through the Salt Spring Arts Council and Intrepid Theatre and teach textile workshops at the Vancouver Island School of Art. Previous work includes Permission to Grieve, a series of discussions and mindfulness activities to work towards community healing and Chronically Queer Embroidery Workshops, which involve teaching individuals from disabled and LGBTQIA+ communities how to embroider and learn skills for selling their work.
Culture Days Activity: During Culture Days, Regan offered two workshops both focusing on care through art-making. “Care Work as Community” examined ways that we can take care of ourselves and others. The workshop ended with a letter-writing activity, where individuals wrote a thank you letter to people who took care of them (including to themselves). Regan’s second workshop “Care Work as Protest” looked at how to make protesting accessible, brainstorming alternate and non-physical ways to protest. The workshop included a banner making activity. Participants used heat bond appliqué and hand stitching techniques to create banners as expressions of protest and identity.
Mentor: Leading scholar of research-creation, Stephanie Springgay.
Lindsey Tyne Johnson (Kamloops)
Lindsey is a digital artist and printmaker living and working on the unceded territory of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. As a trauma survivor, Lindsey creates art that reflects the struggles and triumphs of healing and recovering from personal and intergenerational trauma. Her latest solo show, Hebrew Spelled Backwards, speaks to discovering and healing ancestral and family wounds. After attending the Yukon School of Visual Arts, Lindsey has shown work in various galleries and festivals and is currently an aspiring graphic novelist. It’s a great desire for Lindsey to raise awareness of the pervasive effects of trauma and to garner more awareness and support for survivors and victims of violent crime. She is also finishing her Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and is the mother of a rabbit, Bunbun, who is her heart and soul.
Culture Days Event: Lindsey’s Culture Days event, “Postcards of Courage,” was a workshop project focused on the creation of postcards infused with meaning and compassion for survivors and victims of crime and violence. This project featured two sessions. The first, held at the farmer’s market, was a drop-in style session welcome to all marketgoers and the second was a one-and-a-half-hour workshop at the Kamloops Art Gallery. The core theme revolved around blending culture, words, and the art of collage to produce postcards that would be distributed to survivors and victims. With a collection of magazines, books, paint markers, tape, glue, and pencil crayons, each participant used whatever tool they thought was the most impactful. A central theme of the workshop was asking, “What is Justice?” and encouraging participants to visually represent what justice would look and feel like, along with encouraging and hopeful messages. Along with making a postcard, the workshop sent each participant home with something for themselves: their own piece of art depicting what they would look like in a world where justice, in their own words, was central.
Mentor: Graphic novelist, Miriam Libicki.