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Jennifer Ireland | Planetary

Alum Jennifer Ireland (MFA 2018) is inspired by science. Her work fits right into the new Contemporary Calgary space, where they’ve adapted the old Centennial Planetarium and former Science Centre into a gallery. Jennifer was one of 36 Calgary artists participating in The Collider residency, which asked artists to reflect on the building. Planetary opened on January 23 and is the first major exhibit at the gallery and the result of its Collider residency. Visitors to Contemporary Calgary can see the exhibit until April 26, 2020. We caught up with Jennifer to ask about the residency, her inspiration, and the overall experience.

After remaining vacant and in need of repair for quite some time, Calgary held a vote to determined how to use the old Planetarium. There was a strong majority in favour of an art gallery, so work began in 2017 on transforming the space for the community. Now open, the new home of Contemporary Calgary is a cultural hub to the city – and needed. Jennifer expressed how excited she is for the City of Calgary, as this support for a contemporary gallery will expand the conversation around art, especially contemporary art. “It was totally an amazing launch,” shared Jennifer. “I am so honoured to be a part of it. The collective will to engage in this conversation is there and the opening night was a huge celebration.”

Jennifer’s research process during the Collider residency.

Before the gallery had their grand opening, they began the Collider residency program in June of 2019. Through the residency, the gallery was able to open its doors twice a week to the public to engage with the artists. “The residency took place in a very large circular and open space on the main floor of the building,” said Jennifer. “On Thursdays and Sundays members of the public would visit the studios. There was a lot of curiosity and support for the gallery. I had many brilliant conversations with people about art and wide breadth of other interrelated topics.”

In recognizing the opportunity that the Collider residency provided to engage with both fellow artists as well as the public, Jennifer adapted her studio to include a place to sit and share with people. “Sometimes this was a part of a performative story sharing where I would sit with people and we would discuss topics about land, and other times it was candid and impromptu conversations,” said Jennifer. “All the conversations and sharing were an important part of my practice during the residency. This built on a part of my practice I developed in my MFA program at Emily Carr University and was a part of my grad show in the Charles H. Scott Gallery [on Granville Island].”

The Collider artist-in-residence program provided a really cool creative experience for the artists. “The gallery was just opening up and getting things going, yet they were incredibly supportive and inclusive with the artists,” said Jennifer. “They made individual studio spaces available for each artist within a large shared central space as well as accommodating a wide range of schedules and a variety of practices.” The gallery also opened a workshop with tools available for the artists.

The sculptural work Jennifer exhibited for Planetary.

“I really valued working alongside and with the other artists in the shared space. Many friendships and collaborative projects were started,” said Jennifer. During the residency, Jennifer spent more of her time researching, exploring ideas with other artists, and creating sketches or studies. In between the residency wrapping up and the exhibition launch, she made a new collection of works from the time spent exploring. Her exhibited work consisted of two videos, a sculpture, two textile works and twenty-eight drawings.

Being inspired by science, we asked Jennifer what she likes to listen to when creating. “Quirks and Quarks with Bob McDonald,” said Jennifer. “While I listen to a host of other science podcasts, I’m also really into The Secret Life of Canada with Leah-Simone Bowen and Falen Johnson. It’s not science but I believe it’s the conversations we need to be having as Canadians today.”

Images courtesy of the artist. Find more of Jennifer’s work on her website or follow her on Instagram.

Jennifer Ireland is a multimedia artist working to develop different ways of looking and relating to land and nature through the questioning of traditional epistemological approaches. Ireland strives to make work that is mindful of the situation, context, access, and impact – both environmental and social – in our current state of the Anthropocene. This environmental ethic is found in her work through specific materials and methods which are often light, sustainable and provisional.

Ireland’s multi-media, research-based practice ranges from drawing, photography, video, and sculpture to site-sensitive installation and performance. She is primarily concerned with the abstraction of boundaries and how this relates to issues of embodiment, landscape, and place. Each artwork is a proposition that operates simultaneously as suggestions and possibilities for way-finding in the Anthropocene.

She holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Calgary, studied drawing and sculpture at Alberta College of Art + Design, and recently graduated from the 2018 Masters of Applied Arts at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Jennifer Ireland has shown works across Alberta and British Columbia and has works held in private collections.

Contemporary Calgary aims to provide Calgary and its visitors with a significant visual arts destination dedicated to modern and contemporary art.

The former Centennial Planetarium, itself a significant work of architectural art, is being transformed into a world-class gallery where we will deliver outstanding local, national and international contemporary art programming. Core to our vision, we aspire to become a leading voice among arts institutions by embracing our values of being welcoming, inclusive, engaging and relevant.

Contemporary Calgary began with a collaboration of visual arts partners including the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Art (IMCA), the Art Gallery of Calgary (AGC) and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MOCA) in co-operation with members of the Calgary visual arts community.

  • We believe in the power of art to transform the places and the lives we live.

  • We share a passion for art that is relevant, meaningful, and challenging.

  • We share a passion for Calgary to be a global city of choice.

It’s time to step up and put Calgary’s voice into an exciting international dialogue.

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