About Artists Illuminated



Artists Illuminated is a place where we share stories of the people who make up ELAN. Our goal is to shed light on the intimate processes behind art-making and to connect artists with audiences on a variety of platforms, more specifically on our blog and on Instagram. These platforms are dedicated to artists (ELAN members), and serve as a firsthand introduction of ELAN members to the wider public. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and Newsletter mentions, Artists Illuminated delves a little deeper into the unique artistic and creative lives of ELAN’s members.

See guidelines for more information on how to be featured.

Follow ELAN on Instagram at @elanqc

A new Artists Illuminated feature is published at the beginning of every month.

About Artists Illuminated Shorts!


Artists Illuminated Shorts! is a variation of the Artists Illuminated project, and provides the general public with a snippet of an ELAN Member’s artistic life.

2-3 Artists Illuminated Shorts! are published per month.

We want to feature you! Contact communications@quebec-elan.org to learn how!

Featured Artists

Photography by Ming LI. 

For our first ever Organization Spotlight, we are featuring ELAN member Jingju Québec, a Montreal-based organization performing Beijing Opera! Beijing Opera (or Peking Opera) was designated in 2010 by UNESCO with the status of “Intangible Cultural Heritage”, recognizing its importance within Chinese performing arts since the origins of the style in the late 18th century. “Jingju Québec opened its doors to the public in 2016,” says Director Aurore Liang, “with the purpose of introducing to a Québec audience China’s most iconic artistic genre, Beijing Opera. We would like to share our passion with everyone.”

Jingju Québec has a distinguished team of artists and teachers. Director Aurore Liang has more than 10 years’ experience in sales and marketing. The performers include artist Lianlian Jing, who has achieved first national class with 55 years of experience on the stage; artist Yan Lu who brings 35 years of experience; and artist Dongmei Shi who brings 30 years of experience.

“For the Chinese, Beijing Opera is considered a true national treasure,” says Aurore Liang. “Uniting singing, dancing, theater, mimes, acrobatics and folk tales, this eclectic creation is a complex amalgamation of various art forms.” The opera is usually performed on a platform so that the stage can be seen from at least three sides. The performers’ elaborate clothing and make-up plays a symbolic role, given that stage props and scenery are kept to a minimum. The artists mime the stories through a refined vocabulary of gestures and manipulations of their costume as an extension of the performer’s emotions, such as the iconic use of long sleeves (Shiuxiu, literally “water sleeves”). The artistic facial makeup, which is called Lianpu, is also important to express cues about a character’s social class, personality and intentions to the audience.

This dramatic style of performance adapts some elements of older styles of Chinese opera, and music and literature are central to conveying the stories. “For the moment, the Chinese government encourages the development of this traditional art, from primary school and the public, to appreciate the art,” says Aurore Liang. 

The interdisciplinary practice of Beijing Opera involves long and dedicated training. “Normally we begin the training during childhood. The best age to start learning is around 10 years old. In a small class of 4 students, they need to learn techniques of singing, dancing, theatre and martial arts,” describes Aurore Liang. The demands of attaining proficiency in Beijing Opera require a deep knowledge and coordination of these multiple art forms at the same time: “That’s why we always say ten years of practice for only one minute on the stage.”

Although the prominent roles of women in Beijing Opera’s stories were played exclusively by men in the early years of the style, women also began performing in the mid 19th century. Some of the most popular operas are about women with pivotal roles in imperial courts or in military campaigns.

Beijing Opera is steeped with legend and history, recounting the tales of distinguished historical figures, romances, and military conquests. “Farewell My Concubine” is the tragic story of Xiang Yu, a princess who dies at the side of her emperor when Western Chu is at war with the forces of Liu Bang, the founder of the Han Dynasty. “Drunken Beauty” is an acrobatic tale of the royal consort Yang Yuhuan, who was deceived by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang and decides to get drunk on her own. “The Heavenly Maid Scatters Blossoms” recounts the story of a maiden who is ordered by the Buddha to scatter flower petals in the room of Vimalakirti Nirdesa as a test of his faith. “Lady Wang Zhaojun Goes Beyond the Frontier” follows the concubine Wang Zhaojun, one of the Four Beauties of China, who was married to a general from the nomadic Xiongnu in northern China, in order to maintain peace during the Han Dynasty. Lady Wang Zhaojun plays “Pipa Yuan” (“Sorrowful Lute”), as she departs in sadness from her homeland and travels to the distant north. “Lady Mu Guying Takes Command” is the legend of female general Mu Guying from the Northern Song Dynasty, who was renowned for her boldness and for commanding an army into her eighties.

Jingju Quebec hosts performances, workshops and classes around Montreal, and works in Mandarin, English and French. Jingju Quebec has held workshops with Union française, Projet Changement, and the University of Montreal for music students. Recent performances and collaborations of Beijing Opera have included the Orientalys Festival, the Hong-Kong Canada Business Association (HKCBA), Formons une famille, and the Chinese New Year Festival. The company is currently working on presenting more performances and classes in Montreal!

Follow Jingju Québec on Facebook: Operadepekinquebec

Follow ELAN on our Instagram:@elanqc

SEE OUR PREVIOUS FEATURES & SHORTS:

Clara Congdon (Feature)

Glenna Tissenbaum (Feature)

Laurence Dea Dionne (Shorts)

Avy Loftus (Feature)

Kathryn Berry (Shorts)

Fuat Tuaç (Feature)

Clara Congdon is an emerging artist based in Montreal. She makes tactile drawings and artists’ books exploring gender, media consumption and representation, and personal archives. Congdon holds a BFA from NSCAD University, where she received the Margó Marshall Award for Textiles. Congdon has recently exhibited at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax, The Red Head Gallery in Toronto, and Galerie Monastiraki in Montreal. Her artists’ book “Want to buy some illusions?” is currently featured in Art of the Book 2018, a traveling exhibition of work by members of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild.

“Notebook 1”

Embroidery and textiles are politically loaded media, traditionally seen as utilitarian women’s handiwork, and not historically given much artistic clout. ELAN member Clara Congdon’s work fits within an experimental milieu that is still challenging the accepted norms of creating and exhibiting embroidery, quilting, and other textile-based arts. Congdon’s work also explores the form of the book as a conduit for unusual experiences of reading.

Drawn to the tactility of textiles, Clara Congdon works with three-dimensional media at the intersection of collage, embroidery, bookbinding, illustration and sculpture. She often reuses thread from old clothing, lending an intimacy to her work and creating contrasts between ink and paint, cloth, muslin, satin, plastic, coarse thread, or old gloves. Congdon describes her use of thread and cloth as a drawing medium: “Cloth and paper are a rich starting point because they are accessible media that everyone relates to—we interact with them in everyday life. Textiles also refer directly to clothing and the body, the politicization and policing of which are central concerns of my practice.”

 

“Sussi”, Drag Portraits (left), and “L’oubli No. 2”, Sewn Bound, Cover: Inkjet, Pages: Laser, Colour. 2018 (right).

Congdon’s hanging tapestry installation, entitled “Volume 1”, reflects the material items that were important for the artist. “In the way that you can tell what people value by what they take pictures of, I think you can also get insight into what a person values by observing what material objects they chose to hold on to.” Congdon’s work is informed by a diverse range of performing arts, comedy and costume design. She lists her inspirations as Louise Bourgeois, Faith Ringgold, Tracey Emin, Tschabalala Self, Kai Chan, Anna Torma, and drag artists. Her most recent work-in-progress is a zine titled You Betcha Iris, that profiles one Montreal drag performer per issue.

  

“Proceed Inward Until the Last Instant” (left), and “L’oubli No. 1”, Sewn Bound, Inkjet, Colour. 2018 (right).

Congdon’s “Calendar Series” combines the themes of “gender, media consumption and representation, and personal archives”, chronicling her day-to-day experience through miniature quilts. At the end of the month, she stitches these quilts together, creating a reflection of the materials, experiences, and inspirations she was exposed to. “One month was documented by stitching the headline that appeared most frequently on my phone’s news app each day,” she explains. “Another month, I stitched the name of a woman or non-binary creator whose work I consumed. In May 2018, I simply taught myself new embroidery techniques by practicing a different type of stitch each day.”

“May 2017”, Calendars.

“February 2018”, Calendars.

Live exhibitions are important for Congdon, as digital media does not convey the tactility of her work and the importance of touching the materials. She has exhibited across Canada and in the United States, and participated in the Montreal fairs Expozine, Artch : art contemporain émergent, and What the Pop!, as well as the CBBAG Book Arts Show and Sale in Ottawa. Congdon describes one of the challenges of exhibiting at commercial arts galleries as framing or preparing the art to be hung, seeing the restriction as a creative opportunity: “It usually needs to be ready for someone to walk away with it on the spot”. Congdon also describes the value of participating in art fairs which, though they may not garner many sales, consistently lead to more connections and opportunities. Describing her experience in getting into exhibitions, Congdon says, “Sometimes curators have seen my work at another show and have encouraged me to apply to the group show they are putting together. Sometimes they find me online. I would say apply as often as you can—sometimes you won’t get the first thing you apply for, but the organization that put out that call now has your info and will likely notify you when more opportunities come up.”

Visit Clara Congdon’s website: www.claracongdon.com

Follow Clara Congdon on Instagram: @claracongdon

Follow ELAN on our Instagram:@elanqc

SEE OUR PREVIOUS FEATURES & SHORTS:

Glenna Tissenbaum (Feature)

Laurence Dea Dionne (Shorts)

Avy Loftus (Feature)

Kathryn Berry (Shorts)

Fuat Tuaç (Feature)


neuronervendings by Glenna Tissenbaum

Second Life
By Sufia Duez

After working many years in the legal field, Glenna Tissenbaum took an early retirement and made a life-changing decision. Despite having minimal training and practice in the arts, Tissenbaum embarked on a new adventure that would plunge her into a world of infinite colours, textures, and potential. Overwhelmed by a desire to explore and make art, she acquired books, purchased artist-quality supplies and commenced her schooling in painting and mixed-media techniques.

That was 6 years ago, this is now: Glenna Tissenbaum is a working artist with an impressive collection of abstract paintings and mixed-media pieces that demonstrate an array of skills. The variety of styles that Tissenbaum employs is a reflection of her active curiosity and ambition. Her particular attention to colour and texture is obvious. On discussing colour, she says, “Colour has always been a driving force in my life. There are those who are most comfortable wearing black (maybe grey). I’m most comfortable in red.”

Tissenbaum’s work Quickening is particularly rich in colour and texture. Similar to her other works, Quickening instills a desire to touch every nook and cranny – as if only by touch can one truly “see”. Tissenbaum states, “I hope that when people view my work, the textures at play encourage them to really ‘touch’ the canvas with their eyes. I wish to instill a sense of curiosity as to how the particular texture was achieved.”


Quickening by Glenna Tissenbaum

“Quickening” is a term used to describe the first time a pregnant woman feels fetal movements. On describing this work, Tissenbaum states: “…When I finished the piece, I saw many elements of that life force. An egg waiting to drop, shapes swimming to fertilize an egg, a mushroom representing fertility, and a rising sun in the top left corner. None of this was planned, it simply came into being – as life itself does!”

In contrast to Quickening — which is a positive feast for the eyes, Meeting at the Riverbed is more minimal in appearance at first glance. While the colours used in this piece may be described as “greyish and/or off-white” at most, there are textures at play. In this work, Tissenbaum experiments with Crackle Paste, which gives the illusion of cracked Earth next to a bed of sand, made with various acrylic gels.


Meeting at the Riverbed by Glenna Tissenbaum

But as previously mentioned, Glenna Tissenbaum also favours the expression of mixed media. Her first creative exercise was a mixed-media project entitled: Gall-Liver’s Travails, inspired by the classic Jonathan Swift novel, Gulliver’s Travels. An antique “medical” G.I. Joe-type doll (the giant) lies at the centre of the piece with an assortment of toy soldiers and other small figurines subduing the strange giant. The work is mounted on a turntable to accentuate a world spinning out of order, and to provide viewers with different perspectives.

What’s clear: Glenna Tissenbaum is a dynamic artist whose work will surprise you, just as it sometimes surprises her. She describes the art-making experience similar to being in a trance, a “fugue state.” Only after taking a step back does the art ‘reveal itself.’ She relies on her intuition to tell her when a project is complete. Her parting advice to emerging artists: “Trust your instincts, Love what you do. Don’t allow others to define you. Persist, persist, persist. Don’t be afraid to fail, but learn from it. Never stop dreaming.”

Discover more!

Glenna Tissenbaum’s Official Website

Follow us on our new Instagram account (#elanqc) to see more of Glenna Tissenbaum’s artwork.


A new photo or video will become available everyday from August 21 – August 27, 2018

See Previous Features and Shorts!
Laurence Dea Dionne (Shorts!)
Sharon Smith (Feature)