Artists are the vanguard, says painter Garry Sanipass. “We’re the ones that go into our psyche and bring out something for the rest of the world to enjoy.”
The Atlantic Visual Arts Festival, in its 25th year, has a mission to keep artists connected with the public. Artistic director Pauline Dugas explained that given the pandemic, the artist-in-residence was transitioned to a creative residency with the resulting art displayed at the Caraquet Cultural Centre.
Sanipass, from Bouctouche First Nation, is one of the five residency artists. In his video created for the festival, Sanipass explains that his art began from “a need to communicate” because he was a student in a French language school but unable to speak the language.
Three years ago, Dugas selected the theme of this year’s festival, “On the edge of the world,” before the pandemic but still during a time of massive global changes, including migrations from armed conflict and the impact of climate change on the living environment. She was interested to understand how the artists see the world around them during this unsettling time.
In his video, artist Sanipass explains that the festival’s theme aligns with a recurring theme he’s been working on. “Human beings are on a track of self-destruction,” he said. “Being Indigenous, we have that belief that we’re being taken further away from nature, and we need to be back with the cycles of nature again.”
This year’s activities and exhibitions includes a kid’s workshop, an outdoor art hunt and “Rare Birds,” five seagull sculptures painted by artists Suzanne Albert, Michel Robichaud and Michelle Smith from Caraquet, Carole Bherer from Lamèque, and Denis Lanteigne from Rang-Saint-Georges.
The festival runs to September 25, with the online exhibit available until mid-October.
Susan O’Donnell writes for the NB Media Co-op.