Working Title

When I had my first studio visit with Brenna George in December I had just made the decision to focus on personal narrative in my work for the year.

I should backup.

I applied for the Manitoba Art’s Network Rural Art Mentorship Program in September. This program, produced together with Mentoring Art for Women’s Art in Winnipeg, offers 5 rural based artists the opportunity to be mentored by a professional artist for a year. The program culminates in an exhibition of works in the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba.

The program has been phenomenal. It was everything I felt I needed right after an intense four years at the School of Art. With the pressures of academic deadlines gone, and a pandemic summer in full swing, I spent the months after I graduated recovering from the pace of school in my 30s. After four years of sprinting between classes, homework, nightshifts, family and some semblance of social life I took the summer off. I didn’t even plan to. I just found my motivation to work on much art was not there.

Just before the pandemic hit. I’m exhausted just looking at my old day planner. #yesiwasbornbeforethedigitalrevolutuonanditshowsidontcare #iknowhowtohastag

As fall approached I knew I needed something to pick up the pace. It was helpful to hear Brenna phrase it as a “vulnerable” time for my art practice. I think she is right. It’s that time when ideas, knowledge and skills are fresh, the pressure is off and there is a loss of structure to channel the energy. I had this sense if I didn’t connect with something I could risk letting my practice slide, and after a year of no exhibitions, talks or opportunities, the goal of becoming a professional artist slips away.

That hasn’t happened!

Instead, I was accepted into this mentorship program and over the last five months I have been mentored under the gentle and insightful guidance of Brenna George.

In the first section of the mentorship, usually a weekend intensive but during a pandemic spread over 6 evenings on zoom, we went over goals. Brenna strongly encouraged all of us to focus our energy.

Folks, this is a near impossible task for someone who thrives on stress and variety in life. I narrowed my topic, and refined my mediums.

Here I am. Next Monday I submit the first of my works for an online exhibition in April through Manitoba Arts Network. My working title is “My Roots.”

I am learning the ropes. Again. So many ropes to learn in art. I am learning how to balance life and art, how to set productive goals for my practice; how to be motivated primarily through intrinsic means rather than extrinsic structures; and I am also learning that my work is always in progress. I know that sounds cliché, and I should have learned that by now. Maybe it is just that as I learn to stand on my two art feet I feel the weight of it a little differently.

Over the next few months I hope to bring you into my studio and into my thoughts around my practice as I make my first independent body of work. It feels ridiculous to say “independent” because I am making it under the caring mentorship of Brenna George, and in the social context of a loving community around me.

Nevertheless, this is the first body of work that I am making, and I am excited to share the studio process. Today, I would like to introduce you to my working title. Are you ready? Have I already said it out loud? Whatever.

The working title for my first body of work is My Roots.

Work in progress

By alexandraross

I am a contemporary artist in rural Manitoba.


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