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 four of the 2021 EATF award recipients:
Erin Pankratz has always been a maker. “I am one of those people that starts to hurt, it physically hurts, when I’m not making art,” says Pankratz. After finishing art school, she quickly fell into the fine art side of mosaics. Then she had a compelling and pivotal experience in Rome.
“There’s a scientific explanation for why when my foot hit the cobblestones in Rome, I immediately felt like I was home.”
Pankratz went professional in 2011 and, soon after, was selected to create a piece for the Edmonton International Airport’s expansion project. Her mosaic mural titled Everything Flows, Nothing Stands Still is a vibrant textural piece showing the changing of seasons in the river valley. Pankratz has since done a number of public and private commissions, and, in 2013 and 2016, she was recognized for her work with the Innovation in Contemporary Mosaic Award.
In 2016, Pankratz was the only local artist to ever be selected in an International public art call in Edmonton for her latest public art installation that went up last June. Confluence is located on 83rd Street and Argyll Road and runs along either side of the Davies Station LRT ramp.
With the funding from the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund award, Pankratz plans to experiment, combining mosaic and other mediums with performance art (Pankratz did ballet till she was 20). In her search for her genetic link to the past, she’s recently developed an interest in genealogy and genetics and is planning a project that delves into that search.
“It’s quite satisfying to be recognized in this way as an Edmonton artist,” says Pankratz. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue to pursue and reimagine my art career.”
Madhan Selvaraj stresses his 10-years of community service when it comes to receiving the $15,000 Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund grant: “It was a good time to have this funding. I was also very grateful to have someone to nominate me. We certainly could use more good news as independent filmmakers.”
Bringing over 10 years of experience to the local arts scene, the founder and executive director of Edmonton Movie Club and India Film Festival of Alberta speaks of the importance of a sustainable and cooperative community for local artists. Selvaraj started the Edmonton Movie Club in 2012 to tackle the social issues that are most close to his heart, including immigrant identity, systematic bias and racial existential crises.
The independent documentary Selvaraj is working on, supported by EATF funding, OH Canada, reflects on the experiences of immigrants in Edmonton, as well as in other parts of Canada. When Selvaraj conceptualized this project, he said he wanted his audience to look into their local South Asian communities through cinema.
“It’s good to have support from the community, so we can have access to the stories from different perspectives.”
Despite his outstanding professional experience and heavy contribution to the independent film community, Selvaraj still calls himself an “artist-in-progress.”
“I’m always learning within the community, and that’s my way of growth.
Natalie Meyer’s paintings are vivid, vibrant and full of color, like the Indonesian-Canadian artist herself, yet no canvas gives her more joy than a living, breathing one — the human body.
Unlike tattoos, there is an impermanence to painting a human body, but she plans to immortalize
it with her first art book and a documentary capturing the behind- the-scenes work that went into creating a living canvas.
“The big project I’m working on right now is my very first art book. And it was funded by a grant from the Edmonton Arts Council. It was the first big grant that I was awarded in my art career. Three years ago, I wanted to level up in my visual arts career so I was trying to book my first solo exhibit. I’ve done lots of exhibits before, but never one on my own. It was going to be brand new artwork, like a live show with 10 body-painted models. It’d be like a moving canvas that would walk through the show, and I had sponsors and everything for it. But the funding that I had applied for didn’t come through, because they saw my walking models as a fashion show, which is something that they didn’t fund. So even though it wasn’t a fashion show, they saw that and denied the application. So, because of the amount of money that it was going to cost to have the show, I had to postpone it.
“Then, I moved it to the next year, which was 2020. And, then COVID hit. So, I had to postpone it another year. And, of course, when I went to apply for it again, COVID was still happening, we couldn’t have 200 people in the room. So, I had to change my idea. I wanted to still have like my own solo exhibit, but I decided to put it into a tangible form. So, I changed it to be in the form of a hardcover book. I was going to have new artwork photographed and put into this book. But as I was working on this, my idea changed into focusing on local because, for me, the art community here has been very supportive. And I surround myself with a lot of people in my circle that inspire me.
“The book is actually called the Book of S.H.E, and S.H.E is an acronym that stands for Success, Heal and Emerge. The book is now focused on 10 local women here in Edmonton who are in my circle. All of them are women of color, who, in my eyes, are successful. It doesn’t mean that they have a lot of money, per se, but some of them run their own business, some of them are fantastic mothers and educators, some of them are just successful in whatever they’re passionate about.”
Emily Riddle has a way with words. Her writing has been featured in publications like Teen Vogue and The Globe and Mail, and she’s launching her first poetry manuscript this fall.
“I’m not moving that far away from non-fiction in that my poems are pretty prosy with lots of research,” says Riddle, who is a member of the Alexander First Nation in Treaty 6 Territory. “The manuscript I’m releasing in the fall is a lot of research about my family and about Edmonton.”
Riddle is working on a handful of other manuscripts simultaneously, including a nonfiction collection of essays about treaty feminism and the role of women in Indigenous governance. She’s also writing a time travel novel about her ancestor, Louise Umphreville.
And she’s curating GUTS, a digital feminist magazine that was founded in 2012, with an all Indigenous editorial board. Guts is making a resurgence after being on hiatus since 2020. Riddle is also helping to launch an Indigenous non-fiction imprint called zaagigin with Coach House Books. When she’s not writing, or working at her job with the Edmonton Public Library, she’s experimenting with visual and textile art using traditional Indigenous dying methods and embroidery.
“It’s been really amazing to be recognized for writing and as an artist here, on my home territory.”
Meet more artists at work that are supported by EATF.
This article appears in the May 2022 issue of Edify
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