Artist-in-residence programs are a way for local artists to interact with various municipal organizations but a new program from the Edmonton Arts Council (EAC) is placing the artist in an unusual setting: a cemetery.
The EAC is currently accepting applications for an artist-in-residence at the City of Edmonton Cemeteries. This is the first time the program is being run at the department, which includes seven cemeteries.
“I thought it would be a great way to showcase the wonderful things we do here at cemeteries,” said Teena Changarathil, supervisor in sales and operations for City of Edmonton Cemeteries.
“One of the things I wanted to do is showcase or illustrate the beauty of our natural park lands and one of the ways to do that was really through the arts and the artist’s medium.”
“The artist-in-residence will develop a body of artistic work while interacting with the staff and general public in and around the multiple City of Edmonton Cemetery sites. The artist will ideally reflect their residency experience through their work and potentially mentor the artistic expression of interested staff and community,” reads the request for proposals.
Changarathil admits the space and program is unique.
“It is definitely a different environment in the fact that this is the final resting place for several people.
“I think that would provide inspiration when it comes to whatever artist’s medium they are choosing. A lot of our cemeteries are over 100 years old. We have monuments, things that have gone back for over a century – to be able to show that and find that as part of our history is definitely something we would like to illustrate,” she said.
Changarathil said the program may have an impact on the dynamic and mood of cemeteries.
“I think the change would be maybe going away from the sombreness and focusing on the life, continuity and comfort we’re providing,” she said.
There will be studio space for the artist at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery but they are free to work in any of the seven municipal cemetery sites.
The program will start in the spring and run for six months. The artist will receive $25,000 remuneration and $3,000 for supplies.