The work of the Neighbourhood Time Exchange | Downtown Prince George resident artists spilled out of the studio a few weeks ago, and into the city for the Downtown Winter Carnival hosted by Downtown Prince George. The recently-arrived February artists-in-residence, Eric Moschopedis and Mia Rushton set up a booth in the Legion Winter Market, while January artist-in-resident David Jacob Harder made the drive from Wells back to Prince George to install several outdoor sculptural works for the festival.
Harder worked prolifically during the residency in January, producing an extensive body of work that incorporated the immediate environment into his material and conceptual concerns. Much of Harder’s practice involves collecting the elements of his artwork from backwoods, river beds, or along isolated logging roads around the areas he lives nearby. While travelling along Gregg Creek, Harder came across a sixty-seven year-old evergreen tree that had been felled, but inexplicably left. Grandfather: Now and Then (2017), installed in front of City Hall during the festival, uses the tree as a protective structure around a young sapling. The artist describes the work as an exploration into the way an “embrace can foster comfort and growth”. Suggesting an anthropomorphic narrative, Harder envisions the relationship between the two organisms to be one that is mutually supportive.
Intergenerational concerns are something that also drive Rushton and Moschopedis’ socially-engaged art practice. At a recent open house at the Neighbourhood Time Exchange | Downtown Prince George studio, the artists presented a free screening of their work The Resemblance is Undeniable / Footnote to Everything (2016). In the two-channel video portrait, the artists’ grandmothers, Laura Tuomi and Anna Moschopedis, tell stories, sit in stillness, laugh, and express their beliefs. The artists note, “the stories that our grandmothers tell on camera are stories that we grew up hearing. They are case studies in building community, examples of social justice, strategies for creating social relationships, and critiques of class, age, and gender” [artists’ website]. As social conditions radically shift from decade to decade, understanding the transformations that were underwent by previous generations can help to inform and support the kinds of legacies we aim to foster today.
At a Winter Carnival booth at the downtown Legion Winter Market, Rushton and Moschopedis offered an all-ages activity where visitors were able to stamp out their own thoughts and stories with the artists. Starting with the simple prompt, “This is the place where…”, responses indicated a span of lived experiences. This is the place where “I remember the wooden sidewalks”, or “I read in the library”, or “Bean makes a living”. From long-time senior residents, to youth, and a spectrum of individuals in-between, the collection of responses on the circular cardboard discs read like a spiraled account of the city; oscillating from the past to the present, from the general to the personal.
Rushton and Moschopedis will be continuing to create work in the Neighbourhood Time Exchange | Downtown Prince George studio until the end of the month. On February 26th, they will be hosting an experimental sewing party, and community members are invited to drop by and participate in their final project. Check our Facebook for more details on the event.