Contributed by Alicia Neptune, Communications Specialist

“There is more to the workplace than safety, skills, and basic needs. While these elements are an important starting place, a full life includes purpose, meaning, beauty, hope, love, reflection, and creativity. AiR is a way for employees to create these opportunities and experiences for themselves and those around them.” —Gord Tulloch, Director of Innovation

Our Artist in Residence program, otherwise known as AiR, is a new opportunity for posAbilities team members to bring their creative passions to work. We recognize that the arts can help connect communities and bring more beauty and meaning into our lives. The artist residency program supports employees interested in sharing their talents by offering additional time, resources, and a showcase for their work.

The program is open to any current employee who is also an artist, musician or writer. Project proposals are welcomed year-round. We look for projects that are in line with our values of promoting diversity, inclusion, and social change. Since the launch of the program last year, two artists have begun work on their projects.

Last month, we released the first issue of AiR, a newsletter to showcase the work of our artists in residence and other work from the broader posAbilities community. From exhibitions to emerging works, there is plenty to keep up with in the arts scene. This brand-new publication aims to inform and inspire, offering an in-depth look at our creative collaborations and ongoing art projects.

The first issue introduces our two current artists-in-residence: Nadia Galvan, a Behaviour Consultant for Laurel Behaviour Support Services in the Okanagan; and BoBae Kim, a Day Support Worker at our Limitless Program who has previously fulfilled various roles at day programs and residential care facilities.

Nadia’s project involves bringing community members together to create a collage and raise awareness about inclusion and diversity. BoBae is working on a portrait series which directly involves her subjects in the creative process.

This issue also features a collaboration between posAbilities and media artist Adiba Muzzaffar, which explored concepts of care, comfort and control—using a lot of oranges.

Curious? Read on for a preview:

Collaging and Community

“As soon as I read about AiR, it felt like it was right up my alley. Since my role as a Behaviour Consultant has less to do with the arts, I felt AiR was a great way to bring my passion to work.” – Nadia Galvan

When it comes to creating art, the process can be just as meaningful as the final result. Nadia’s project proposal reflects the importance of process, as well as her commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion.

She plans to gather a small group of diverse individuals to participate in discussions while working on a collage together. The goal of the conversation is to encourage participants to explore their connection to their community. The collage will be made up of items that represent the community, as well as materials the participants choose to contribute.

The base she’s chosen for the collage is circular, to represent the interconnectivity of different cultures. Nadia hopes to create an open and welcoming environment which invites the group to be part of the artistic process. The final collage will bring all the contributions of the group together into a single whole.

Made You Smile

“I believe every human is artistic and the way it manifests is shown in their preferences. I see art as appreciating art in life, whether it’s literature, visual art, music, or simply appreciating the beauty in nature. My art might not have a long reach but if my work can be a positive influence on another human being I think that’s plenty of reason to continue putting time into my craft.” — BoBae Kim

BoBae’s close relationship to her subjects forms the foundation for her “Made You Smile” project. Her goal is to bring people joy (quite literally, to make them smile) and express through her portrait work the importance of small joys in life.

“Made You Smile” involves three parts:

  • creating literal and abstract portraits of her subjects that capture their likeness and celebrate her close relationships with them
  • painting an abstract self-portrait which reflects how she sees herself
  • gathering a collection of anonymous snippets written on post-it notes to create a collage of story moments about many different people

Her subjects are current residents at Broadway House and Rosemont house, whom BoBae has worked with closely for years. Several of them are artists themselves. During her work on the project so far, BoBae has challenged herself by experimenting with new artistic mediums and techniques. She has also involved her subjects in the creative process, integrating their interests, favourite colours, and other aspects of their personalities into her portraits.

The Orange as Body

In the right context, the simple act of peeling an orange can become an artistic process.

In the summer of 2019, Adiba Muzaffar conducted a series of workshops titled “The Body Envelope” which involved individuals served by posAbilities as well as parents and staff. The workshops explored ideas about caregiving and touch, using the orange as a stand-in for the human body. Groups were invited to share their stories about care and participate in the act of peeling.

A gallery installation at Alternatives called “O is For Orange” showcased the work that emerged from the workshop series. The final installation unified the diverse voices of the workshop participants and offered new insight into the meanings associated with touch and expressions of care.

We’re proud to share this new publication and the work of our resident artists with you. Read the full articles, see more photos, and check out our Writers’ Corner in the first issue of AiR.