Candace Makowichuk is a visual artist currently working as the first artist-in-residence for the City of Edmonton’s Cemeteries Department. She specializes in historical photographic processes from the 19th and 20th centuries, including cyanotype and bromoil photography which she uses for this project.
Conversation with Candace Makowichuk and Avenue Edmonton
Why do you choose lengthy photographic processes instead of just digital?
Makowichuk: Because I’m a part of it, it is physical. The hand of the artist is evident in every part of the image. And it’s more of a skill, I think that’s why there’s been a resurgence in analog photography.
What made you want to take the residency with Edmonton Cemeteries?
Makowichuk: I’ve always had a strange interest in the history of an area, which includes cemeteries. I remember being 12 and I would hop on my bike and ride to the local cemetery. It is a way to further explore the community I live in and do research on the people who once lived in my community. The way [cemeteries] are portrayed in pop culture and horror stories appeal to our fear of death and the unknown. I find them very tranquil, very peaceful.
What themes do you want to explore over your residency?
Makowichuk: I want to have exhibits that will appeal to the general community. For this residency I am doing several series of work: one series is on the symbols, another on the epitaphs, a series and one large fabric piece on the children, one piece on the military sections, a series on the traditional burial ground and also on the general landscape and area of each cemetery. Every location has different unique landscape elements.
You are the first artist with this kind of residence in Edmonton. What has the response been to this project?
Makowichuk: Overwhelming. It’s been interesting because the people I’ve been talking to; everyone has a story because everyone has a connection to death. It would be nice if there were more residencies. The arts have the incredible power to bring a community together.