Virginia Woolf once famously wrote that a woman needs a “room of her own” if she is to create. While she was talking specifically about writing, we’ve all come to associate the “room of one’s own” theory with anything artistic in nature.
But artist and designer Chelsea Boos has shredded Woolf’s theory to bits. She had her own workspace, in her home, and the solitude drove her a little crazy. “I craved that social connection of being in a workplace but I didn’t want to go back to a nine-to-five job,” says Boos, who previously worked at Vue Weekly and the Edmonton Arts Council. “I wanted a place where people like me could work together.” That led to the creation of her artists’ collective, The Drawing Room.
Located on 97th Street and 102A Avenue, the space consists of eight workstations, with an additional nook in the back of the building for a ninth work area. Dividing the two rooms is a cozy area where the artists can eat or take a break from creating. The name, The Drawing Room, is a double entendre, says Boos. “Putting a pen to paper is the initial step in creating something. The other meaning is ‘a place to withdraw to.'”
A multi-disciplinary artist herself – she illustrates, designs, photographs, sculpts and does installations and performance art – Boos seeks out artists from a wide range of disciplines. “What that does is give the space a very high potential for collaboration and interesting synergies between artists that you wouldn’t get if you were all working in the same discipline, because everyone has a different perspective and gives the space some more interest and the work that comes out of it,” says Boos. “There’s more opportunity for unpredictable things to happen.”
An artist can rent a workstation on a month-to-month basis. As of September, all nine spaces in The Drawing Room were full. In addition to housing artists, the building has also inadvertently become a part of the Quarters revitalization, says Boos. “Before, it was all pawn shops. Now it’s starting to become cafes, venues, art galleries and music places. So there’s lot of creative people making something out of the street.”