In the fifth and final project, artist Justine A. Chambers and MaryAnn Persoon’s grade 6/7 class collaborated to create and lead a silent walk through the Lord Strathcona school grounds and the Strathcona neighbourhood. This walk responded to the notion of “choreography as a way of seeing the world” (Klein, Valk, Gormly) and was inspired by Vancouver based composers and sound artists Hildegard Westerkamp and R. Murray Schaeffer. Chambers and the students created their final walk reflecting on the ways that bodies are choreographed by the city as a means to question power, everyday dances, performances, patterns and dynamics. On the evening of the final presentation, parents, family and friends joined Justine A. Chambers and Ms. Persoon’s Grade 6/7 Class for a choreographed walk through the Strathcona neighbourhood.
A subtle lemon, mild skunk-ish and sweet potato sign
Over the course of April, artists and collaborators Helen Reed and Hannah Jickling led Ms. Persoon’s Grade 6/7 class on weekly explorations of the human senses as they relate to experiences of taste. Analyzing flavours in chocolate bars, evaluating kid-centric candy advertising and exploring relationships between smell and memory, the students were encouraged to question marketing tactics to children, issues of consumption and what it means to mark the scents around us as only ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Through olfactory adventures and taste-making brainstorms, the class brought these explorations together to develop ideas for their own soda creations.
Open Access: Practicing Accessibility Together
For the third part of A New Path to the Waterfall, artist and disability activist Carmen Papalia introduced Ms. Persoon’s grade 6/7 class at Lord Strathcona Elementary to Open Access; the model of five guiding principles for accessibility he produced in 2015. In a weekly program that included exercises ranging from running with eyes shut to staging a solidarity march for Open Access on school grounds, the group engaged in a dialogue about their subjective access needs leading toward a new model for mutual support.
A New Path to the Waterfall exhibition space at the
Contemporary Art Gallery
To mark highlights from A New Path to the Waterfall, an intimate installation of sonic excerpts from the sound of a cactus being touched by a raindrop alongside a copy of The Herbarium Project publication is newly presented underneath the staircase at the Contemporary Art Gallery. Come and listen to audio documentation, sound collages, look at sound maps, graphic scores and flip through The Herbarium Project!
Opening in tandem with Brent Wadden’s current exhibition in the B.C Binning and Alvin Balkind Galleries on January 11th, this cozy space is a chance for visitors to see and hear the diversity of projects happening at Strathcona Elementary School through A New Path to the Waterfall.
The hours of the activated staircase will coincide with regular hours of the gallery, Tuesday-Sunday from 12-6pm. Further materials from projects with artists Carmen Papalia, Helen Reed, Hannah Jickling and Justine A. Chambers will be added throughout the year.
the sound of a cactus being touched by a raindrop
Through the latter half of the autumn/winter term, sound and installation artist Elisa Ferrari embarked on a series of listening and sound-making activities with the students. Using Pauline Oliveros’ theory and practice of deep listening, the Scratch Orchestra’s improvisation rites, and the World Soundscape Project’s notion of acoustic ecology as starting points, Ferrari worked with students on the sonic qualities of sites, objects and listening bodies paying particular attention to vernacular sounds that are integral to our daily auditory experiences. Through soundwalks and sonic mediations, the creation of graphic scores, field recordings and improvised performance, they considered the possibilities and limits of listening as a group and individually. Other activities included collaborations with guests artists Stacey Ho and John Brennan and a visit to the UBC anechoic chamber led by physicist Chris Waltham.
Thanks to Aisha O’Sullivan for the title of this project.
Listen to the sound collages produced by Elisa and the students below:
no.1 | Whistle crack stats (glitch, malfunction, static, snotty nose, squip)
no.2 | “I am gonna try to be quiet now” (94.5 crackalaikadingdong)
no.3 | Alien abduction (computer takes over boombox, deagorgen’s friend, dying animal with music, murder on the orient express, schrecker)
no.4 | Orchestra of rakes (drums, Maui, ssssss)
The Herbarium Project
Coast Salish ethnobotanist, community gardener and interdisciplinary artist T’uy’t’tanat Cease Wyss was the first artist to collaborate with MaryAnn Persoon’s class. Through a series of foraging trips to Capilano River, Harmony Garden, Trillium Park and Stanley Park, Cease and the students gathered plants, fungi, moss, lichen and more from different local habitats. They identified species – learning both their Skwxwu7mesh and Latin names – and pressed their plants. The class then composed these into a series of individual, hand-stitched herbarium books, inviting students to open their senses to local natural environments and encounter first-hand the deep interconnections of our ecosystems. Together, the pressed plants formed not only a beautiful collection but also a historical document of biodiversity and a way to measure change in our natural landscapes.