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)

 

 

Guy Rodgers with John Hobday (Independent Arts Consultant who has worked for Canada Council for the Arts, the Samuel & Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation, CBC, and more) at State of the Arts in 2011. 

Photo by Dimitri Nasrallah

Fifteen years ago, the Quebec Arts Summit brought together 150 artists and cultural workers to take stock of an English-language cultural renaissance that had become noticeable after the referendum of 1995. The rapidly growing number of English-artists choosing to live and work in Quebec was a revelation, and the inspiration for ELAN’s creation. Seven years later, in 2011, ELAN organized State of the Arts, a three-day gathering of artists and cultural workers from all disciplines and from many regions of Quebec. Principle activities took place at la Société des arts technologiques (SAT), where 100+ community leaders discussed challenges and opportunities, debated strategies and brainstormed innovative ideas. Satellite activities took place at Centaur Theatre, the launch of the book Minority Report: An Alternative History of English-Language Arts in Quebec, and a series of thought-provoking panel discussions at la Maison du Conseil des arts de Montréal.

In February and March, ELAN is hosting a new edition of State of the Arts. The emphasis is on diversity and inclusion. At our 2011 event, our priorities were to connect with younger artists, newly emerging disciplines, and artistic communities outside Montreal. In 2019, project manger Farah Fancy has expanded the consultation format to include small group discussions and personal consultations around Quebec to engage a more diverse group of people in the conversation. With the assistance of Emily Enhorning, ELAN’s Membership Coordinator, Farah has also prepared two short surveys that we encourage you to take. One of the surveys is for individual artists living in Quebec and the other is for arts and cultural organizations. Each survey will only take a few minutes to complete.

The English-speaking arts community in 2019 is distinctly different than it was 15 years ago.  ELAN was founded by artists whose references were rooted in 20th century issues of official languages and historical tensions between the two solitudes. That has been a significant part of our mandate and we have made significant progress. The 21st century has brought new challenges and opportunities. This edition of State of the Arts signals a turning point for ELAN, in part a generational transition, and in part a valuable updating of ELAN’s mandate and mission for current and future members. We hope you’ll be part of it.

Guy Rodgers
Executive Director

ELAN & LEARN have teamed up to manage the Government of Canada’s Community Cultural Action Fund Micro-Grant Program for Minority Schools in Quebec. The goal of the program is to provide students in minority language schools with opportunities to experience the arts ELAN will be overseeing the administration of the program and will be working collaboratively with LEARN to reach the 300+ English schools.

We are seeking proposals from Communications Specialists to develop outreach strategies and design communications tools required to successfully launch a micro-grant program that aims to bring arts and culture in English-language schools in Quebec. Deadline for submissions is JANUARY 28, 2019. Click here for details. 

Apply now!

Literature

  • The Quebec Writers’ Federation is hiring a writer to facilitate a Journalism Workshop for students aged 14 to 18. Deadline is JANUARY 15, 2019. Click here for details.
  • Canada FBM2020 is hiring a committee that will plan and coordinate the literary programming for the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2020. Deadline has been extended to JANUARY 21, 2019. Click here for details.

Music

  • Independent music distributor Redeye Worldwide is hiring a full-time Account Representative. Click here for details.

Theatre

Visual Arts

  • The Dollard Centre for the Arts is looking for a Managing Director. Tentative starting date is FEBRUARY 11, 2019Click here for details.

Surveillez les événements et les activités à venir en lien avec le Sommet des arts, notamment de nombreux ateliers, appels à projets pour les artistes, séances de réseautage, partage de ressources, et plus encore !

Nous organiserons toute une journée consacrée au Sommet des arts, le 28 février 2019. Assurez-vous de mettre cette date à votre agenda !

Cliquez ici pour en savoir plus sur le Sommet des arts.


Aidez-nous à compiler des données concrètes. Grâce à ce sondage, nous espérons mieux identifier les obstacles auxquels font face les artistes et les travailleurs culturels du Québec, ainsi que leurs aspirations et objectifs pour un meilleur avenir.

Participez à notre sondage !

Le sondage est uniquement disponible en anglais, mais les réponses en français sont les bienvenues. 

The ELAN team is back in the office and ready to take on an exciting new year! We look forward to sharing news with you about projects and advocacy, as well as delivering more practical workshops and schmoozers!

2019 also marks ELAN’s 15th anniversary and we have a lot to celebrate! If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, check out our 2018 year in review for a summary of last year’s feats and activities!

Guy Rodgers with Aaron Salomon, Andrew Tay, and Caroline Lussier at ELAN’s 2014 AGM!

Photo by: Sandra Belanger

The beginning of a new year is a natural time to reflect on the past and imagine possible futures. ELAN had its busiest year ever in 2018. Arts Alive! Québec, managed by Anne Clark, co-produced multidisciplinary festivals in Hudson, Knowlton, Huntingdon, Wakefield and Quebec City, as well as a series of music and words events in libraries. Christie Huff and her ACE Initiative team launched a new series of Arts, Communities and Education projects to take artists into schools all around Quebec. June Park produced more than two dozen workshops in Montreal and the regions to enhance the skills of performing artists who aim to develop their professional careers, while Emilia Alvarez and Mariam Assaf arranged showcases in Canada, the USA, and the UK.

ELAN’s increased activity necessitated the creation of a fifth full-time staff position. Jackie Stamp Smeaton joined us in December as our brand new Administration and Human Resources Manager. Jackie brings a wealth of Admin and HR experience to ELAN, as well as an artist’s sensibility. We also hired Lital Khaikin as Membership and Communications Assistant under a six-month Emploi Québec contract. Lital will work with Sufia Duez and Emily Enhorning to improve ELAN’s Communications and Membership services.

The immediate project on the horizon for 2019 is State of the Arts, managed by Farah Fancy, with staff management by Amy Macdonald. ELAN was founded after a multi-disciplinary gathering of artists in 2004. In 2011, we met with the community again, which led to the development of many of the projects ELAN has worked on since. State of the Arts 2019 is designed to engage with artists and organizations we have collaborated with in the past, and to make new connections with artists and organizations who wish to collaborate with ELAN in the future.

In 2019, ELAN will celebrate its 15th birthday. A few of you have been with ELAN from the beginning. It has been quite a journey and there is much to celebrate. We look forward to sharing memories with you, and exploring new possibilities.

 

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

Guy Rodgers introducing the Minute Market

Photo by Kinga Michalska

The decisions by Ontario’s Ford Government to abolish the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner and to renege on a promise to establish a French-language university were unanticipated and shocking. Then came news that Ottawa’s Nouvelle Scene theatre would not receive expected provincial funding. The combined cuts sounded like a deliberate reversal of decades of positive measures in support of Ontario’s French-speaking minorities. Francophone communities across Canada rallied in support of their vulnerable comrades in Ontario.

English- and French-speaking Quebeckers added their voices in support, albeit for slightly different reasons. French-speaking Québécois identify with franco-Ontarians as a vulnerable French-speaking minority within a continent and a world dominated by English. English-speaking Quebeckers identify with franco-Ontarians as a vulnerable minority.

Since its creation, ELAN has worked closely with French-speaking artists across Canada, and particularly with the Ottawa-based national network, la Fédération culturelle des canadienne-française.  The situations for English-speakers inside Quebec and for French-speakers outside Quebec are very different, but we all need to feel like full citizens within our home provinces.

The Quebec government’s creation earlier this year of a Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebeckers sent an encouraging signal. It is easy to appreciate that the abolition of minority language services would be demoralising. Due to the outcry, the Ford government has begun to reverse its ill-advised cuts, which produced small financial savings at a high social cost. This is a victory for the better angels of our human nature.

 

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director


Further Reading

The Star (ENG)
https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2018/11/23/cuts-to-french-language-services-hurt-us-all.html

#ONFR (FR)
https://onfr.tfo.org/crise-linguistique-dix-jours-et-dix-moments/

Journal de Montreal
https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2018/11/22/le-message-de-cet-anglo-ontarien-en-soutien-a-ses-concitoyens-francophones-devient-viral-en-ontario

Help us compile real data! Through this survey, we hope to learn more about barriers faced by members of the arts and cultural community in Quebec, as well as the aspirations and goals they have for a better artistic future.

Click here to begin the survey!

Your engagement is important to us. Visit the State of the Arts web page to stay up-to-date on future surveys, resources, reports, events, and more ways you can participate.