Edmonton

Edmonton's dead will now have their own artist in residence

An Edmonton artist will have the chance to draw inspiration from an unlikely place, the city’s burial grounds. The Edmonton Arts Council is hiring an artist-in-residence to work, full time, among the dead.

Chosen artist will work at the city's cemeteries to create a new collection

The artist will be provided studio space at Edmonton's historic Mount Pleasant Cemetery. (City of Edmonton )

An Edmonton artist will have the chance to draw inspiration from an unlikely place, the city's burial grounds.

The Edmonton Arts Council is hiring an artist-in-residence to work, full time, among the dead.

It's the first time an artist-in-residence will be hosted by the City of Edmonton Cemeteries.

The lucky candidate will be given studio space inside the offices of Mount Pleasant Cemetery, which houses administrative offices, as well as "beautiful niches" that are the final resting place for cremated remains.

Burials at this picturesque hilltop graveyard in Pleasantview began in the 19th century, and many prominent historical members of the community are interred there.

Making art among the dead

While some might consider the setting spooky, the city's supervisor of cemetery sales and operations said the burial grounds are filled with beauty. When she saw a call for proposals from the Arts Council a few months ago, she jumped at the chance to get involved with the program.

"For me, when I saw this information, I thought, 'Why not? Why wouldn't we want to this?' " said Teena Changarathil in an interview with CBC Edmonton's Radio Active.

"Showcasing the beauty of our parkland locations and the history is important, and I think one of the best ways to do that is through the arts."

Applications are now being accepted for the residency, which will run for at least six months.

Some city workers were initially skeptical about the new project. That came as no surprise to Changarathil, who admits that even she was squeamish about working among the dead before she applied for her current job.

"I wasn't sure but I was intrigued … it's become one of the most rewarding roles that I've been in, working with our team, meeting different families and really seeing the history," she said.

"It's beyond what you actually see, and I found that out in a very short period of time."

The artist will be paid $25,000, and $3,000 has been set aside for supplies.

The selected artist will develop a body of work throughout their residency and showcase the collection at a public exhibition later this year.

The application deadline is Feb. 1.

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