Nuit Blanche: Connection, poetry, artworks light up Regina and Saskatoon

Some artists are calling for more public art in Regina, while another hopes to inspire youth through poetry.

Some artist are calling for more public art in Regina, while another hopes to inspire youth through poetry

Visual displays had stories, memories and meaning behind the projections at Nuit Blanche in Regina. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

​The night was shining in Regina on Sunday as art projections and displays lit up Victoria Park for the annual Nuit Blanche Festival. 

The once-a-year event is a chance for local and international artists to showcase their work but two participating artists want to see similar events happen more often. 

Melanie Barnett and Blaire Trenaman collaborated to create Panic Room, an art installation aimed at inspiring people to think about the plastics they use on a daily basis. 

"Being fully surrounded by plastic, it really puts into perspective how much we actually go through without really thinking about it," Trenaman said. 

Blaire Trenaman and Melanie Barnett pose in their installation 'Panic Room' meant to have people reflect on their use of plastics. To make the installation, the two asked their family and friends to keep plastics from the past five months. (Heidi Atter/CBC)
'Panic Room' was an art installation meant to have people reflect on their own plastic consumption. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Having the art in such a public space is important because galleries can be perceived as "exclusive" or "elitist" at times, Barnett said.

"It's a really amazing experience for us," Barnett said.

"We can potentially have an impact on many people with it — which is the goal of every artist, in my opinion."

Trenaman, who grew up in the city, believes there should be more events that bring artists together as well as people who are new to the art scene in Regina. 

Moon Pool Garden was one of the display's at this year's Nuit Blanche Regina. (Heidi Atter/CBC)
While some artists moved indoors, others stayed outside in the snow to perform with visual displays, telling different stories of the land. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

"I didn't find that there was much for you to do especially as a young person between [ages] 12 and 18," Trenaman said.

One way to increase the public art displays would be to have them more frequently and spread throughout the city and in locations like Victoria Park in downtown Regina, Trenaman said. 

While some artists moved indoors, others stayed outside in the snow to perform with visual displays. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

'They too have a voice'; Inspiring youth through poetry 

Victoria Park also served as the stage for a group of singers and poets. The work was a combination from university professors and high school students. 

One of the facilitators, Anna-Leah King, has been inspired by art since children on her reserve, Wikwemikong in northern Ont., had a day to paint and foster their skills.

Now, she's one of the people who goes into Regina high schools to help teach and facilitate a poetry session for students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. 

King and Heather Phipps brought together the youth's stories with a globe to read and perform them at Nuit Blanche. King took the globe from the hoop dance — something she taught in the past — and incorporated it into the display. 

Heather Phipps, Anna-Leah King and a high school participant all took part in the snowy Nuit Blanche performance of poetry. (Heidi Atter/CBC)
Heather Phipps, Anna-Leah King and a high school participant peek through one of the hoop dancer globes at the poetry display. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

"I want to inspire those kids to think about themselves as writers, or know that they have a story and words to share," King said. "I want them to find their voice." 

King said not enough people are aware of Indigenous literature. She added reading it can inspire people while educating them about the important history of the plight of Indigenous peoples, she said. 

Anna-Leah King was one of the artists behind Thoughts And Words of Wind and Sky at Nuit Blanche Regina. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

"Even the kids that are new to this country, I find them the most interested, the most respectful, the most empathetic," she said. "They too have a voice and something to write about their own experience."

King would like to see more venues for the students to share her work in the future, she said. 

Bridging rural Saskatchewan with metropolis New York City through art

In Saskatoon, the Broadway, downtown and River Landing neighbourhoods were lit up by light as artists took to the streets. 

Two artists say have different backgrounds but came together because of their love of connection, and donned flowers covering their faces for a piece of performance art. 

Saskatchewan's Monique Blom and Mexico's Arantxa Araujo form Do-Mystics, a feminist collective. Their outfits are dramatic and messages are bold, as they work to connect to each other and their audience. 

I strive with my work and with Monique's work to connect and create understanding.- Arantxa Araujo

The two artists met at a residence for public and performing arts in New York City. When Blom heard Araujo talk, she knew she had to meet her.

"There was this energy that I thought 'She's going to conquer the world,'" Blom said.

"And I think that was the biggest connection that we found, through both of our work, is that we both wanted to connect the world and our worlds together."

The two started in performance art together as a way to increase empathy and create a more peaceful world, Araujo said. 

"Especially today in these politics all around the world. It's quite chaotic. So I strive with my work, and with Monique's work, to connect and create understanding," Araujo said. 

Do-Mystics performed their latest piece in Saskatoon for the annual Nuit-Blanche. (Submitted by Monique Blom)
The Do-Mystics hope to connect to others through their performance art. (Submitted by Monique Blom)

Blom lives in rural Saskatchewan, chopping wood, building ponds, and connecting to the natural world. Her connection to the land is incorporated into her work in every piece because it's fundamental, she said.

"We are all connected because of land and land use. And so it's starting to learn the ways of the land," Blom said.

"It's just something that we'll always be learning from and so to be able to translate that into work is something that I cherish."

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend


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