Strathcona visits the CAG!

Last week the students from MaryAnn Persoon’s grade 6/7 class came to visit CAG. During the trip, CAG Curator Kimberly Phillips gave the class an insider’s tour of Brent Wadden’s exhibition, Two Scores.

Kim gives a tour of Two Scores

Asking questions around Score Two (16 Afghans)

Guiding the class through a conversation that included the history of weaving and authorship, the class asked questions around who weaves and why/how these questions factor in to how Brent and Kim worked together to create the exhibition.

We also talked about ‘following the rules’ in weaving. Weaving is an activity that requires the weaver to follow a certain set of rules: a weaver uses a loom, creates a warp (vertical strings that are the ‘skeleton’ of the weaving) and creating a weft (the yarn or thread that goes in and out horizontally between the warp). How did Brent ‘break’ the rules when he made these works?

In order to explore the ideas of rules within artistic practices, CAG Learning and Public Programs Curator Danielle Green organized two rule-based drawing activities that shared similarities with Brent Wadden’s work in the gallery. Here Danielle led the class through some instruction based artworks inspired by Sol Lewitt, an artist best known for his contributions to the Conceptual art movement in the 1960s.

Here we created a collaborative drawing based on our own set of instructions:


Collaborative instruction based drawing train!

Collaborative instruction based drawing train!


Weaving Workshop with Guest Artist Travis Meinholf

In addition to their weekly session with artist Carmen Papalia, Ms Persoon’s grade 6/7 class was visited by guest artist Travis Meinholf, an internationally renowned and self-described ‘action weaver’ based in California. Travis presented a weaving workshop to the class coinciding with the current Brent Wadden exhibition at CAG: Two Scores.

During his introduction to the class, Travis told everyone that the social aspect of weaving is what is really important to him. Travis showed the class some tips and tricks on how to warp their chipboard looms and how to make ‘improvised’ weavings with the materials at hand.

Travis discusses weaving

Travis discusses weaving

Together, the class and the adults picked up on weaving skills that they had learned last year and learned new terms like shuttle (a sort of needle that you can spool your weft thread around) and shed (a material used to prop up the warp threads which makes it easier to weave (the class used their rulers)).

Weaving with sheds, needles and shuttles


Field trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery!

Last week the Lord Strathcona 6/7 students explored two exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Artist Carmen Papalia led a series of activities throughout the gallery across two exhibitions; Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg and 空/Emptiness: Emily Carr and Lui Shou Kwan. Beginning in the gallery’s rotunda, the class discussed the history of the Vancouver Art Gallery as the former provincial courthouse.  Although now a public art gallery, the gallery should still be remembered as a colonial site where marginalized groups were often put on trial unjustly and consequently incarcerated. Together, everyone acknowledged that they were living, working and playing on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the  xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Proceeding to the 2nd floor, which featured the exhibition, Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, the class split up into pairs and took turns guiding each other throughout the exhibition. In their pairs, one student closed their eyes and was guided by the other. The student with their eyes open would describe the works that they felt drawn too, the architecture of the gallery and other visitors in the room. The student with their eyes shut imagined the gallery and let themselves be guided by the nook of their partner’s elbow.

A visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery

A visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery

On the 4th floor, which featured the exhibition 空/Emptiness: Emily Carr and Lui Shou Kwan,  the class engaged in another eyes-closed exercise, but this time the group focused on the soundscape of the exhibition. Choosing a spot that they felt comfortable in, the group focused on the acoustic qualities of the room and formed narratives around the artworks based on their aural findings.

Listening to the soundscape of the exhibition

Listening to the soundscape of the exhibition room

At the end of the visit, the class met back in the rotunda. Coming to terms with their reflections on the social etiquette expected at the gallery, the exhibitions, the gallery history and the two activities they engaged in, the class responded by clapping loudly on the two staircases, an outburst of energy at the end of the day that garnered the attention of fellow gallery visitors!

We would like to thank the Vancouver Art Gallery for having us for this very special occasion!

Visibility Campaign and ‘I Want’s’

Now that artist Carmen Papalia and the class have become more acquainted with one another, last week’s activities were met with a writing workshop and a march around the Strathcona Elementary school hallways and courtyard.

At the beginning of the day, Carmen introduced a poem that he wrote which composed of a list of ‘I wants’. Both students and adults discussed the various types of wants and desires in the poem and how these individual needs might reflect on larger, common needs too.

Introducing an iteration of Open Access

Introducing an iteration of Open Access

Carmen also shared an adapted version of his piece, Open Access, which he rewrote especially for the class:

Open Access

—Carmen Papalia

In 2015, I wrote five paragraphs about the kind of support that I want when people help me because the support that I was getting wasn’t working for me. I wrote about people patiently listening to each other in a respectful environment where everyone feels welcome and can ask for help as their needs change. I titled the piece “Open Access” and showed protest banners with the paragraphs on them in art exhibitions across Canada and the US. I think of Open Access as a set of instructions for how to create a supportive environment where everyone can be themselves and ask for help when they need it.

I eventually went on a worldwide tour and shared Open Access as a new way to think about the ways that we help others. I hope that the people that I meet find it useful; I tell them to remember the Open Access guidelines whenever they, or someone they know, needs some help or understanding.

Open Access is an open conversation with a trusted friend; someone who will listen, who is willing to help. When things are openly accessible we feel like we can freely be ourselves and rely on the people around us for kind and  patient support. Sometimes we are the person asking for help, and sometimes we are the person helping.

Open Access is a conversation about support that we can revisit at any time, as our needs change. Anyone from any background, who is experiencing any sort of problem at all, is welcome to join; because everyone brings something valuable to the table and is an expert when it comes to who they are and what they need.

When things are openly accessible we can live and learn in the ways that work for us; especially if we have a different way of doing things. Open Access creates a safe and respectful environment where we can ask for help,  do things our own way, and  share what makes us unique without the risk of being discriminated against or put in a box.

When we make things openly accessible we create a forcefield that pushes away the things that make it difficult to be our unique selves; like negative thoughts and discrimination. We make a bubble that people who support each other can stand inside of; a place where “normal” doesn’t exist and everyone celebrates the many things that make them who they are.

Open Access is something that we have to keep working at so it keeps working for us; we shouldn’t ever assume that things are openly accessible for everyone. People, and the things that they need help with, are always changing; the help that we get, and give to others, needs the freedom to change too.

In small groups, the class read aloud and discussed each of the adapted five tenants of Open Access, coming up with a list of 10 ‘I Wants’ addressing each of these tenants. Choosing from their list of ‘I wants’, the students then turned these into campaign signs, and together, the class presented a march around the school.

The ‘I Wants’ were diverse:

‘I want people to stop labeling each other’

‘I want people to step up more’

‘I want international hug day’

There was even a campaign sign for cheeseburgers!

nix and Sophie working on Open Tenant paragraph 2, Open Access is a conversation about support that we can revisit at any time, as our needs change. Anyone from any background, who is experiencing any sort of problem at all, is welcome to join; because everyone brings something valuable to the table and is an expert when it comes to who they are and what they need.

Left to right: Sylvia, Phoenix and Sophie working on Open Tenant paragraph 2

March through the hallways

March through the hallways

Accessibility, Texture and Trust; The First Two Classes With Carmen Papalia

Since mid-January, Carmen Papalia, the third artist to participate in A New Path to the Waterfall has been getting to know the students of MaryAnn Persoon’s grade 6/7 class through some non-visual ice breaking activities.

Carmen Papalia is a Vancouver based artists whose social-practice based projects address topics involving public space, art institutions, visual culture and accessibility. He creates experiences, workshops, walks, performances and interventions that engage trust and non-visual senses.

For their very first class, Carmen had everyone head down to the school’s gym. There, everyone (including adults!) formed two lines down the middle of the gym. Standing about a body length apart, we took turns running down the middle of the two rows, eyes shut! At the end, we partnered up, linked arms, and ran in pairs. Lots of interesting running styles were witnessed!

Running with our eyes closed!

Running with our eyes closed!

During the second session, everyone brought to class something that was special to them. We sat in a circle passing around each item and discussed why it was important to that person. It was a great way to get to know each other more and also a warm up to the next activity where everyone was presented with a ‘texture bag’ full of odds and ends: from various fabrics scraps, plastic animals, seashells, cotton balls etc.

Sharing objects of importance brought from home

Sharing objects of importance brought from home

Together, the class categorized the materials into different textural sensations, soft, plastic-y, rigid, natural, light and airy and also paper like. Closing their eyes to focus on the feelings that these materials evoked, they wrote down words to describe their what came to mind when they could feel these materials, but not see them.

The class feeling their way through texture

The class feeling their way through texture


Interview with Arius about ‘the sound of a cactus being touched by a raindrop’


Sound Map by Elijah Odegard

CAG Learning and Public Programs Assistant Michelle Martin sat down with grade 6/7 student Arius before the public presentation of the sound of a cactus being touched by a raindropa collaboration between artist Elisa Ferrari and MaryAnn Persoon’s 6/7 class.

Michelle: So first I wanted to ask you about the experience of doing a soundwalk. What was it like the first time you did a soundwalk?

Arius: It was kinda cool and it was really awkward because it was so quiet cause this class isn’t usually this quiet.

Michelle: Did you find it was difficult?

Arius: A little bit the first time.

Michelle: What about the next time?

Arius: It got easier.

Michelle: Did you have the chance to lead your own soundwalk?

Arius: I think so, yeah.

Michelle: What were you thinking about when you were leading the soundwalk?

Arius: To try to find different sounds.

Michelle: What about the experience of doing the sound collage?

Arius: That was really fun.

Michelle: What were the sounds that you found the most intriguing?

Arius: “I’m going to try to be quiet now.” That one by Joseph. It was really funny.  And the water bottle crunching.

Michelle: What about the graphic score experience?

Arius: It was fun. I like making all sorts of random lines and shapes.

Michelle: Do you think the way you think about sound has changed at all?

Arius: Yeah a lot.

Michelle: In which ways?

Arius: Like how it reflects, and then it produces the sound.

Michelle: What about going into the anechoic chamber?

Arius: Oh, that was cool.

Michelle: Was it what you were expecting?

Arius: Um,  I was expecting it but when they first told me we were going, I thought it was like you couldn’t speak, so I was like “Uh oh”.

Michelle: Yeah I was pretty scared too. I thought I was going to be able to hear the blood going through my body and that freaked me out a little bit. Were you freaked out at all when you were inside?

Arius: No.

Michelle: What’s been your favourite part of this whole project?

Arius: I think the graphic scores and sound collages.

Michelle: Are you excited to present them tonight?

Arius: Yeah, that’s if I come.

Thanks Arius!

“So slowly that your feet become ears”

Soundwalks – led by both artist Elisa Ferrari and Ms. Persoon’s students – have been Part of the generative process of the sound of a cactus being touched by a raindrop.

These silent walks have mostly been centered around Lord Strathcona Elementary School and have allowed students to note differences and experience the richness of their everyday sonic environment.

Students took turns leading soundwalks around the school. Each student was then asked to create a sound map based on the experience.


For their last soundwalk, artist Elisa Ferrari led a walk through the fog to McLean Park asking students to try to “walk so slowly that your feet become ears”. Once at the park, Ferrari invited students to produce sounds that reverberate through different parts of the body starting with the jaw, the mouth, the nose, and finally through the cranium and sinuses.

Reflecting back on past soundwalks, students observed that keeping silent has become easier and easier and that in the fog, sounds seemed to change and become more muffled.

Listen in to clips from sound walks at Lord Strathcona and Maplewood Flats:

These recordings are best experienced with headphones