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Meet our Organizers: Sebastian from Prince George

Culture Days

Mar 9, 2020

Meet our Organizers Series Games Nature & Outdoors Visual Arts

Looking back on the 2019 celebrations, we want to highlight some exceptional organizers who help make the Culture Days celebration what it is across Canada. Last year, Sebastian Nicholson in Prince George, BC, organized a city-wide treasure hunt for hidden mushroom castings painted by the community itself. We asked him some questions about what leads his artistic practice to forage for connections. Here’s what he said.

Describe your city in 3 words:

I would describe Prince George as Comfortable, Caring, and Divided.

What does it mean to be an artist working and living in Prince George?

Prince George is a “trades” town and not everyone is given the same opportunity to nurture their art equally. Being an artist in Prince George means sharing opportunity and working to foster an environment where individuals feel safe to express themselves. Leading by example and enabling creativity are two pillars of my mission statement.

How has your community impacted your artistic practice?

Our community is interesting in that we take the space of a large city but are a small town at heart. The distance between neighbourhoods forms geographic and social barriers between many individuals, which leads my practice to forage for connections.

Where is your favourite place to go to find inspiration and indulge your mind?

I, honestly, love exploring the streets! There are so many residential roads and parks that few visit without living there themselves. It gives me a chance to observe nature and find inspiration from unexpected places.

Why fungi?!

First of all, fungi are responsible for my favourite soup. Second of all, they are a lot more like us than we know. I made the connection when I was walking about and noticed a tree covered in shelf fungus. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Are they friends? Are they family?” Then I looked around and saw other trees covered in the same units of fungus before realizing they had their own community! How human of them.

What motivates you to make connections between your community, the natural world, and art?

Art and nature have the power to connect with people on a very basic level. By offering community-based art projects related to our environment I create an opportunity for people to engage and bond over our shared space, experience, and land.

This year you served as a BC Culture Days Ambassador. Why did you decide to participate?

For years after I graduated high school I worked in forestry as part of my commitment to get a “real job”. I made a big decision to go back to my hometown to follow my calling and accept my identity as an artist. Serving as a BC Culture Days Ambassador was an incredible experience that gave me confidence as well as the means to engage my community in the way I always dreamed about.

Your project, The Spores of Joy, revolved around a community scavenger hunt for hand-painted objects. What inspired you to create a treasure hunt?

Since I was young, I have always loved exploring and engaging with my environment. I wanted to give Prince George the same opportunity by hiding the sculptures in accessible locations and inviting the community to interact more with their city, people included. The objects were all concrete casts of tree fungus that were painted by people from all walks of life. Over the months leading to BC Culture Days I shared this opportunity with galleries, summer camps, and treatment centres.

What does the year ahead hold for you creatively?

That is quite a loaded question. I will be teaching art classes at Two Rivers Gallery, joining some Art Battles, and working on the next big project. I want to keep the momentum from BC Culture Days going and offer The Spores of Joy to other communities. The dream is to connect the whole world!

This article is part of a special blog series. Find more organizer profiles here.

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