Story by Social Media Ambassador and VISA student Erin Grayley.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Brock alumna and artist, Kate Mazi, to discuss her recent collaborative exhibition “Permanent Vacation” at the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).
The exhibition was created and curated by five Brock alumni: Jenn Hudson, Ben Mosher, Alex Muresan, Matt Caldwell and Kate Mazi. The group met during their time at Brock University in the Visual Arts program and have remained close after graduation, sharing ideas, studio space, and now an exhibition. While at Brock, they transitioned the Brock Art Club to what it is now known as The Brock Art Collective (BAC) with the goal to create more opportunities for student exhibition and workshops within the school.
With Permanent Vacation, the artists wanted to create an exhibition displaying social practice rather than a traditional gallery setting. Keeping local emerging artists in mind, the five friends created an inclusive community and addressed the struggles behind being an emerging artist.
“It’s like you’re going full speed on the highway. You’re going through school and you’re super into it, and you do acknowledge the that it’s not an easy career choice, but when you graduate, it’s like you just get pushed out of the car,” said Kate Mazi.
This feeling gave the group motivation to stay together after graduation and collaborate to work on topics and themes related to emerging artists in the area.
Kate explained to me that this exhibition was intended to give emerging artists the opportunity to work in a studio space and create connections. Up-and-coming artists, whether they are part of academia, recently graduated or are a part of the art community outside of post-secondary schooling, may struggle with finding space to work and making connections within the local artist community.
“We wanted to make it like a paradise for artists,” said Kate. “We hope that emerging artists were able to find a quiet place to work and understand the situation you are in living in this area.”
The group hopes to make opportunities for artists locally so they don’t feel the need to move to larger cities. Their goal of bringing the art community together and creating a safe space for emerging artists creates a way for artists to support each other and build up the existing community in St. Catharines.
The exhibition opening was a prime example of how they intend to live out their goals. The group created an interactive space to inspire and encourage the creation of local art. Using A green screen (with no intended background editing) and props, they gave the space a sense of ‘here can be anywhere’ and an oasis of support and collaboration in a safe space.
Kate provided me with advice for those thinking about merging into the art community, which fits seamlessly with the theme of opening space for emerging talent.
“What I would say is, don’t be afraid to connect and collaborate with people because that’s what opens up the ideas and presumptions that you may have. It doesn’t even have to be in the same discipline. Open yourself to other disciplines because the relationships you make in school, especially in visual art will last. Time and place will always serve your practice. You’ll really change and progress in that time.”
If you missed Permanent Vacation, you can still see another collaborative work by Kate Mazi and Jenn Hudson titled “Pepsi Girls” until the end of February at Mahtay Café (located on St. Paul street across from the Performing Arts Centre in downtown St. Catharines).