BY BILL PHILLIPS
If you head upstairs at Studio 2880 you’ll probably meet Lynette La Fontaine and Michael Kast.
They were unveiled Friday as the latest Artists-in-Residence at the Community Arts Council.
“After a really wonderful year with Carla Joseph - someone who definitely set a very high bar for our Artist-in-Residence program - we are so very pleased to enhance the program this year with two very talented and unique artists,” said Sean Farrell, Community Arts Council executive director. “We are also excited to go in a new direction, not only by having two concurrent artists in the program, but by mixing traditional arts with new media. It is going to be a very interesting year, and we can hardly wait to see the output and responses from audiences.”
The Artist-in-Residence program is intended to accommodate artists for a period of one year for the development and production of ongoing or new bodies of work.
Components of the program include: No-cost studio space at Studio 2880; administrative and mentorship support; website, newspaper, radio, TV and social media coverage throughout the term; opportunities to display and sell artwork at Community Arts Council events; a minimum of one, 30-day, Feature Gallery Exhibit.
The Artist-in-Residence also facilitates outreach activities such as talks, workshops and exhibitions, intended to promote interaction and professional development, and provide access to a diverse range arts practices within the community. During the term of the residency, the artist also delivers art classes for children, adults and seniors.
The artists-in-residence to date have included Corey Hardeman, Cliff Mann, Crystal Tarr and Carla Joseph.
LYNETTE LA FONTAINE
Lynette La Fontaine, an otipemisiwak artist, creates traditional and contemporary Métis artwork in the form of beading and painting. Her work is inspired by connection to land, heart, spirit, ancestors and teachings from elders and knowledge holders. Her beadwork is custom designed using traditional Métis practices and materials. No two pieces are alike.
“My work involves living and being holistically,” she said. “So when I do my work, I step into that spiritual space, honouring those who came before me. It’s a very personal and vulnerable journey.”
The Métis are known historically as “The Flower Beadwork People” as a result of the elaborately beaded, floral designs on garments and personal items. Lynette’s work honours this identifiable way of beading in all her unique designs. Lynette was raised in Fraser Lake. Her Métis roots are in Northern Saskatchewan and the Red River Valley. She has been creating art all her life. Lynette is a self-taught traditional artist. She taught herself to bead while attending university and working with the Elders, in 2007. Since this time, she has been gathering teaching and knowledge from various community members and Elders. In 2016, Lynette received funding from the First Peoples’ Cultural Council as an emerging artist. Her mentor is Lisa Shepherd, well known Métis Artisan. Lynette’s work has increased to a more professional level in order to do commission work, start a business, and ability to share her skills and knowledge to teach others.
Michael Kast predominantly works in fine art photography, but also unique portraiture. Commercial photography, acrylic painting, design, theatre, radio broadcasting, writing and publishes the Take 5 community paper.
“It took me about 12 years to get to the point to put myself out there,” he said, adding he eventually learned to be OK with people who were critical of his work.
He said he made a decision earlier this year to put himself forward as an artist.
“I don’t see it as something I’m taking, but rather something I’m giving,” he said.
Kast was born in Kenora Ontario, and resided in Toronto, the mid-west USA and Prince Albert before moving to Prince George 15 years ago. Michael is primarily self-taught but has studied photography and design while living in Toronto. He has owned photography studios and up until three years ago had worked for a 10-year period at SpeeDee as a graphic artist. Michael is a member of the Community Arts Council, Prince George Community Radio Society and The Theatre NorthWest Society.
Kast has had solo shows in Toronto, Prince Albert and Prince George with group shows in Toronto, Prince George, Williams Lake and Mackenzie. His art has been sold and displayed across the country. Michael’s work explores a wide range of topics from abstract to surrealism, fantasy to reality.
His greatest influences are Karsh, Johansson, Platon, Dali, Pollock, Vallejo, Royo, Whelan and Jusko. Michael is currently working on a photography series for a show in May of 2018, as well as line of greeting cards and numbered prints based on the current wildlife series and poly-resin sculptures that include acrylic pouring medium abstracts.
Now in its Fifth year, the Artist-in-Residence program is charting a new course this season. This year, arts council staff made the decision to explore different media, and in doing so we have selected a traditional Métis artist and a photographic/mixed media artist, helping us draw attention to the artistic and cultural diversity that defines our contemporary community.