Administered by the Edmonton Arts Council and supported through initial funding from John and Barbara Poole, Edmonton Community Foundation, Clifford E. Lee Foundation and, since 2017, the Eldon and Anne Foote family fund, EATF has supported over 120 artists working in a variety of mediums, from multimedia to music to visual arts to film (and much in between). The Fund recognizes an artist’s work and contribution to the community and provides financial stability with $15,000 awarded to each recipient to renew, develop, grow, create or experiment with his, her or their art form.
Here are three of the 2021 EATF award recipients:
Visual Artist, Musician, Composer & Writer
Dwayne Martineau describes his artistic journey as one that has seen him constantly evolve and incorporate new skills.
“I’ve been playing music for 25 years, in and around Edmonton. And I was doing a little bit of visual art, a little bit of graphic design. And that then turned into a career in photography and that turned into me really exploring video. And lately, what I’ve been trying to do is merge all of these things — photography, video, music and sound — into sort of these big, immersive conceptual art pieces where you walk in, and it’s kind of hitting you with all your senses,” he said. “What I try to do is explore our relationship with nature and try to challenge our perspectives and our biases. So, my work, it always begins with just exploring forests and trees and water and things like that.”
For that exploration, he has a furry, four-legged collaborator — his 10-year-old golden retriever, Harriet. “I’ll just grab my camera and a handful of mirrors or pieces of glass, and I’ll just go out to an area with my dog. And I let my dog run around and I will just basically explore and try to spend time in the nooks and crannies that normally you would overlook. For example, if you go to a place like Niagara Falls, most people are standing there looking at the waterfall and taking pictures. I’m going to be the guy who’s looking at a piece of moss that’s growing on one of the fences,” he said.
He’s also invested in a writing project. “I have a writing partner, and we wrote a science-fiction, television pilot script and it’s done pretty well and won a script-writing competition in New York, and it’s placed in a bunch of other competitions.”
On how being awarded an EATF grant will help his artistic endeavours, he says, “Money allows time, and time allows creativity.”
Yong Fei Guan
Yong Fei Guan recalls when she started to research local gojis three years ago. It was the day when she visited a Chinese elder Kwai Ping Lau’s backyard to collect goji branches to memorialize the abandoned Edmonton Harbin Gate.
“Edmonton’s Chinatown was being gentrified in part by the removal of Edmonton’s Harbin Gate in 2017,” says Guan, “I see goji as a representation of the resiliency of Chinese Canadian heritage in this land.”
Guan cherishes the diversity and vibrancy in Edmonton’s local arts scene since her arrival in 2007. She questions the mechanism of consumer culture, as well as her immigrant identity in the changing environment.
Guan’s creation of the cultural community sculpture, 塑胶狮 (Plastic Lions), is her way of remembering lost parts in Chinatown.
“Community art usually receives less attention, but that is my way to interact with the surrounding. Edmonton has so many talented artists, although we wouldn’t be as free in creating art as we are now, if there was not enough funding. I’m glad we have the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund.”
Maigan van der Giessen
Writer, Performer & Community Organizer
It’s difficult for Maigan van der Giessen to choose just one art form that she loves. She’s dabbled in painting, writing and poetry while also expanding into the musical sphere by collaborating with various artists before going solo.
“Before I was almost always the only woman in a group and I struggled to find my footing sometimes,” says van der Giessen. “Then all of a sudden, I’m doing this solo project as Tzadeka, my stage name, and it was an opportunity for me to not just do a verse on a song, but to write the whole thing. It was a big learning curve for me and I think it was one of the most exciting and scary things I’ve ever done.”
A big part of van der Giessen’s ethos as an artist is playing small venues like CO*LAB and The Aviary that give back to the community. “I want to always be building forward and sharing with others because I think that’s how we build a really strong local art scene.”
Working as an artist wasn’t van der Giessen’s only gig. She worked with the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights for over a decade, implementing arts and community programs. Thanks to the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund, she’s decided to take a break from the nine-to-five life to push herself creatively.
“I really felt like this was an incredible moment for me to just be able to explore more deeply who I am as an artist, and then make way for whatever transformation is ahead of me.”
Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund Supports More Artists
Meet more artists at work that are supported by EATF.