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Arts

Seasons of Hope

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7 minute read

This article originally appeared on The Creative Hive Blog on May 15, 2019.

Season Of Hope Fundraiser: A Fine Art, Fine Jewellery, and Fashion Show

Spring is the ultimate season of hope…right?  Seeds get planted and there is anticipation about what will grow, how it will grow and how strong the roots will be to steady it when life comes roaring through.  Having hope or being in a season of hope is powerful for Sonja Deklerk.  It means there is a future and it means there is a chance for beauty to shine brightly.

Sonja exudes kindness…it was flowing from her the first time we met and I instantly knew she was special.  She like so many others popped in to The Creative Hive to see what was going on, but with an idea it may be the right space to host her upcoming Fashion & Art show.  That was it.  I was wrong about that because it was the beginning of getting to know a person who is inspiring in most everything she does.  I hope in the next few paragraphs I can give you some insight in to the inner workings of this Mom, Wife, Creative Soul, Artist, and Entrepreneur who has her own story to tell.

There was a slight chuckle when Sonja described how long art has been an important part of her life and she clearly remembers selling her drawings on the corner in her cul-de-sac at 4 years old.  Sonja has never been scared of sharing her art…actually she says it’s the most rewarding thing in the world when you see an idea or concept come to life.  For the most part, Sonja describes herself as a very joyful person, but there is another side of her…depression.  It’s that side of her she is most nervous to share, but confidently admits “there is a part of me that is good…a part that is bad…the healthy and the sad…it’s all me.”

There is an innate strength in standing up and sharing your story.  Sonja shares hers to help connect her to the community and wants to be an example or advocate to anyone else who struggles with depression.  She first noticed something in grade 6 when she suffered long stretches of not feeling right and not sleeping .  By 14, she was seeing a doctor, but it wasn’t until after her second child was born at 22 years old, Sonja was diagnosed as bipolar.

The diagnosis wasn’t all bad…it gave some answers to everything she was thinking and feeling, but at the same time Sonja says she still very strongly felt it was her fault.  That if she just tried harder or was more positive she would be able to manage this.  The diagnosis was hard on her entire family…her husband was still a student and they had a one year old son and a newborn.  Then her dad passed.  It all added up to Sonja realizing she had to get up and share to save her life.  She had to reach out.

While she knew that, the feeling of isolation was strong.  She explains she felt like she didn’t belong and the negative self talk was overwhelming.  It came to a point where she attempted suicide.  She was in the ICU for a week.  Family came to say their goodbyes.  It was touch and go and when she came out of it she was low enough to be admitted on the psychiatric unit.  She had extreme guilt that she had attempted suicide and says she just wanted to shrivel up and isolate herself because she was too afraid to face the world.  Sonja says matter-of-factly that there is no way to sugar coat this… it happened, but at the lowest of lows she found the strength to fight her way back.  Her strength came from talking.  Sharing her story and opening up about what she struggles with each and every day.

That isn’t the end of the story.  It does’t just stop there.  For Sonja some days are great, some days are okay and some days are awful.  It’s how she deals with each and takes care of herself that allows her to continue to move forward and live her life to the fullest.

Her online blog sharing her journey back to health allowed her to connect with a supportive group that she could also help.  In the past 7 years her mission has bent advocate for mental health breaking down the stigma through art, singing and writing.

Her show The Seasons of Hope is happening at The Creative Hive on Saturday, June 22.  It’s a collection of very joyful pieces and the unveiling of a new style of painting Sonja has fallen in love with.  It’s also a showcase of her jewelry pieces that she’s crafted for more than a decade.  The latest line with inspirational messages…affirmations you can touch daily to make you feel stronger.

Sonja says it’s important for her to make sure people know they matter.  Just by your very nature you are a living breathing soul with value.  Believe in yourself.  Have the confidence and courage to seek help or help others.  Life is better when you surround yourself with love.  Life is better with hope.

Learn more about Sonja Deklerk here.

Get tickets to Season of Hope here.

 

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Alberta

Lieutenant Governor of Alberta celebrates ten emerging artists for 2020

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Lieutenant Governor of Alberta celebrates ten emerging artists for 2020

Alberta’s 2020 Emerging Artists named

Edmonton (June 4, 2020)

The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation today announced awards totaling $100,000 to the 10 recipients of its 2020 Emerging Artist Award.  More than 60 invited guests joined the Zoom awards show, which is now public, and available on the Youtube link above.

“We are pleased to be able to invest in advancing the careers of these outstanding artists at the early stages of their professional development” says Foundation Chair, Arlene Strom. “When economic times are tough, our artists are particularly vulnerable. And in the midst of societal change and upheaval, ensuring our artist voices and perspectives are heard is critical.”

Here are this year’s awardees:

  • Kablusiak, visual, multidisciplinary artist, Calgary
  • Amy LeBlanc, writer, Calgary
  • Luc Tellier, theatre, Edmonton
  • Carlos Foggin, music, classical, Calgary
  • Lauren Crazybull, visual, Edmonton
  • Evan Pearce, multi-media, music, new technology, Edmonton
  • Molly Wreakes, music, French Horn, Edmonton
  • Bruce Cinnamon, writer, Edmonton
  • Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal, visual, multimedia, Calgary
  • Griffin Cork, theatre and film, Calgary

Her Honour, the Honourable Lois E. Mitchell, CM, AOE, LLD, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta congratulated the awardees on a Zoom meeting June 4, 2020. Each awardee receives a $10,000 cash award, a handcrafted medal and 2020 Emerging Artist certificate.

The 10 recipients were selected from 160 applications in a two-tiered adjudication process overseen by The Banff Centre. The adjudication panel included: Denise Clarke, associate artist, One Yellow Rabbit, 2007 Distinguished Artist awardee;  Adam Fox, Director of Programs, National Music Centre; Lindsey Sharman, curator, Art Gallery of Alberta; Alice Major; writer, poet, 2017 Distinguished Artist awardee.

Here is some background the each of the artists:

Kablusiak (they/them) is an Inuvialuk artist based in Mohkinstsis/Calgary and holds a BFA in Drawing from the Alberta University of the Arts.  Recognition for Kablusiak includes the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize (2017) and the Primary Colours Emerging Artist Award (2018), and short-list nominee for the Sobey Art Awards (2019).  A multi-disciplinary artist, they imbue a variety of mediums with their trademark ironic humour to address cultural displacement. 

Amy LeBlanc is the author of three books: her debut poetry collection, I know something you don’t know, was published with Gordon Hill Press

in March 2020.  Her novella, Unlocking, will be published by the UCalgary Press in 2021. Pedlar Press will publish her short story collection, Homebodies, in 2022. Her very timely master’s thesis is a work of fiction examining pandemics and chronic illness.

Luc Tellier is a theatre actor, director, and educator from Amiskwaciy Waskahikan, colonially known as Edmonton. He’s been seen in over twenty-five professional productions since graduating from MacEwan University’s Theatre Arts Program in 2014. As an arts educator and through his own freelance workshops, he mentors hundreds of students every year – sharing his belief that the arts are for everyone!

Carlos Foggin is driven by his passion to share live orchestral music with as many Albertans as possible! In 2016, he founded the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra which has since performed to more than 30,000 Albertans in over 50 concerts in small southern communities. He is a celebrated pianist, organist and improviser and has performed internationally on some of the world’s greatest organs.

Lauren Crazybull is a Blackfoot Dene artist living in Edmonton.  In 2019, Lauren was selected as Alberta’s inaugural artist in residence and was long listed for the Kingston Portrait Prize. Through her art, Lauren is asking poignant questions about how Indigenous identities can be represented, experienced, celebrated and understood through portraiture.

Evan Pearce began his career by editing music videos using found footage for local bands, but he’s now on the leading edge of two new emerging technology art forms: VJ-ing and New Media – working at the intersection of music, video, and leading-edge technology. Evan is fascinated with incorporating XR (Extended Reality) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) in a live performance setting while VJing – and beyond.

Molly Wreakes is a classical french horn player originally from Edmonton, who has performed internationally as both a chamber and orchestral musician.  Molly served as the academist with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra In 2018/19 – performing with the orchestra and training with their horn section and orchestra members. Molly is also an avid chamber musician who is inspired to explore community outreach opportunities through music and musical creativity.

Bruce Cinnamon is a writer whose creative work thrives in the radiant sunshine of the gigantic Alberta sky, twisting and bending the familiar prairie landscape into carnivalesque fantasies.  Bruce won the 2015 Alberta Views short story contest; his first novel, The Melting Queen, was published by NeWest Press in 2019. He is currently working on his second novel, a fantasy story about a small Alberta town which suddenly vanishes when it is torn into a parallel universe by a predatory City.

Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal is a multi-media artist, community activist, and perpetual learner. She is a recipient of the National BMO 1st Art! Competition Award, and of the 2017 Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Award. Cardinal has been an active member in the urban Indigenous community in Treaty 7 Territory. Her work reflects the teachings she receives along her journey – and invites  others to become a part of the process, to partake in its making.

Griffin Cork is a Calgary-born actor and producer in the film and theatre industries. He is co-founder and Artistic Producer of Hoodlum Theatre, a small collective dedicated to creating disruptive and unabashed work. His company Numera Films took home an AMPIA Rosie Award for Best Web Series – Fiction in 2019 for Abracadaver. Griffin is committed to telling engaging, Albertan stories and strives to merge the mediums of film and theatre.

Backgrounder: About the awards

The late Fil Fraser, the late Tommy Banks, the late John Poole and Jenny Belzberg (Calgary) established the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation in 2003 to celebrate and promote excellence in the arts. The endowments they established were created with philanthropic dollars and gifts from the Province of Alberta and Government of Canada.

Since its inception in 2003, the Foundation has awarded $1,230,000 to 20 Distinguished Artists and 63 Emerging Artists, all Alberta affiliated.

The Foundation administers two awards programs:

  • The Emerging Artist Awardsprogram, established in 2008, gives up to 10 awards of $10,000 each to support and encourage promising artists early in their professional careers. Emerging Artist Awards are given out in even years.
  • The Distinguished Artist Awardsprogram, begun in 2005, gives up to three awards of $30,000 each in recognition of outstanding achievement in, or contribution to, the arts in Alberta. Distinguished Artist Awards are given in odd years. The 2019 Distinguished Artist Awards celebration will be in Maskwacis, Battle River region in September 21, 2019.

Todayville’s President Lloyd Lewis is a Board Director of the Foundation and was the Master of Ceremonies for this year’s online awards show.

Read more on Todayville.

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Alberta

This is how a Local Musician is giving back to her Community

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Kate Stevens is a local Calgarian and Bishop Carroll High School Alumni making a splash in the Canadian music industry with her original music and community investment initiatives. A talented singer-songwriter, she plays the ukulele, piano and guitar and writes all of her own music. 

Growing up in a musical household, Kate’s passion for music began at an early age and stayed with her all through her school years, eventually landing her in the music program at Bishop Carroll High School in Southwest Calgary. The education structure at BCHS allowed Kate to focus strongly on her love of music and develop as a young artist, impressively recording an entire studio album during her senior year. She also sang in choir and vocal jazz groups, building lasting connections within her high school and across the Calgary music community. 

Just 20 years old, Kate graduated from BCHS in 2017, the same year she released her debut EP, Handmade Rumors. Since graduation, things have been crazy for Kate. From bringing home YYC Music Awards Female Artist of the Year in 2018 to 4 nominations at the 2019 YYC Music Awards, releasing another single and launching the Youth Musicians of Music Mile Alliance (YOMOMMA) to help nurture young musicians in Calgary, busy is an understatement. However, despite her exciting rise and packed schedule, Kate remains deeply invested in her community, and recently launched a new initiative to give back to the BCHS program that helped her get her own start. Using funds from a recent licensing agreement for one of her songs, she has elected to sponsor an annual scholarship for a BCHS vocal student in their final year. 

“I was lucky to attend Bishop Carroll High School, “says Kate, “the incredible music program there helped me to develop as an artist, and I would like to give financial support to future musicians.” At $250 dollars a year, the scholarship will be awarded by the BCHS Choir Director to a student who shows exemplary leadership skills and wants to pursue music after graduation. Having been on the receiving end of scholarships throughout her own high school career, Kate is aware of the positive impact these types of grants can have on the lives of developing youth, and wanted to be a part of the process that helps young musicians chase their dreams. “If I can support someone in this industry and really encourage the idea that music is important, then I’ve done my job.” 

Currently, all of Kate’s upcoming performances have been cancelled as a result of COVID-19. Although she misses interacting with crowds and performing on stage, she remains optimistic and excited for the future. To hear her music and read more about her story, visit https://www.katestevensmusic.com.

Check out WeMaple video in partnership with Calgary Arts Development featuring Kate Stevens here.

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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