N@N – Allison Tunis: Creating Community (by ZOOM)
February 1, 2024 12:00 pm
Creating Community – The Process of Collaborative and Community Arts
This talk will discuss the collaborative process of the artist’s recent mixed media embroidery series The Chronic Illness Art Project, and the journey to becoming a community-focused and relational artist.
The Chronic Illness Art Project is a collaborative portrait series between visual artist and community arts facilitator Allison Tunis (she/they) and nine other individuals throughout Canada who identify as chronically ill. Over the course of three years, Tunis individually connected with each collaborator through a back and forth conversational process, discussing their illnesses and the experience of being chronically ill in the world today. As a result of this process, ten double-sided embroidery and mixed media portraits were created, along with some new or strengthened friendships and opportunities to share our stories candidly.
Visually, one side of each piece is a representational portrait of an individual in cross-stitch embroidery, and the reverse side incorporates free-form embroidery, mixed-media collage, and installation elements to attempt to reproduce each collaborator’s experiences of chronic illness through the use of visual metaphor, colour, and texture. Accessibility was an important consideration throughout the creation of the works and for any subsequent exhibitions and display.
This project sought to develop a more equitable and anti-oppressive approach to portraiture and art-making, specifically focusing on breaking down hierarchies often present in art practices – by listening to and centring lived experience, recognizing and addressing the power differentials between “artist” and “model, and reflecting on questions about elitism and exclusion within art communities, the value of creation vs. concept, insider vs. outsider art, craft vs. fine art, and art ownership and consent practices. The ultimate goals of the project were to benefit individuals living with chronic illness(es) by building community, providing meaningful compensation for sharing their experiences, challenging and breaking down artistic hierarchies and barriers, and widening the scope of the conversation about the identities and experiences of those who live with chronic illness – led by those with lived experience (http://www.allisontunis.com/2023—chronic-illness-art-project.html).
Allison Tunis (she/they) is a visual artist working on Treaty 6 territory, in amiswaciwâskahikan (Edmonton). They have a Bachelor of Fine Arts (University of Alberta 2008) and a graduate diploma in art therapy (Vancouver Art Therapy Institute 2013) and use their education and personal experiences as a community organizer and self-advocate to explore themes of personal and community healing through the art creation process. Tunis aims to reimagine art materials, techniques, and collaborative processes in ways that reduce barriers and harm, while contributing to critical conversation within and beyond traditional art spaces about accessibility, intersectionality, and strengths-based theory.
For more info: www.allisontunis.com
Free, everyone welcome