4elements Living Arts gearing up for busy season

KAGAWONG—Following its success in 2021 including its annual Elemental Festival, 4elements Living Arts is hosting a workshop series and performance by Candice Irwin and youth participants, along with continuing its artist-in-residence program this year.

“In September 2021, we offered the elemental festival in Kagawong and welcomed more than 100 community members to the festival,” said Susan Snelling, president of 4e in her report at the group’s annual general meeting. “Louise Hayden and Candice Irwin provided amazing coordination for the festival. Thanks to them and to all our volunteers. The festival featured many remarkable performers.”

“We were pleased to partner with Gaagigewang Ziibing Dibaajimowinan-Kagawong River Stories, led by Lisa Hamalainen and Shelba Deer, along with youth performers. We are grateful for funding from the Canadian Heritage Local Festivals fund to support Elemental Festival.”

“Plans are taking shape for Elemental Festival 2022, on September 10-11, 2022,” said Ms. Snelling.

“4elements Living Arts is pleased to be delivering on our vision and mission, engaging in experiences of land, arts and community and nurturing and inspiring community engagement in land-based arts on Manitoulin Island.”

“4elements was supported once again with Ontario Arts Council core operations funding (in 2021). We are grateful to the Ontario Arts Council for this critical support,” said Ms. Snelling. She explained, “as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, arts and community organizations were hard hit, like so many other industries. But we focused on creating opportunities for artists to do their important cultural work in a way that still engages community, even if not in the usual ways.”

During the past year, “our major focus was on building our artist-in-residence program, taking place in our mobile studio,” continued Ms. Snelling. “The mobile studio will allow us to further our goal to be less tied to one place, and more able to deliver programs in a variety of locations, as the need arises. The mobile studio will also be live work spaces for artists residencies, allowing artists’ to spend a period of  time immersed in a location to do land-based work.”

Chantal Rousseau was 4e’s first artist-in-residence in the mobile studio. “She brought so much to Manitoulin. She painted, she made friends with birds, she made banners for the Sheguiandah community garden; she taught a workshop on making GIFs and she developed a program called ‘Paintings for Stories,’ in which she exchanged paintings with people who provided a story for her. We are grateful to the Canadian Council for the Arts and their support of Chantal’s residency,” said Ms. Snelling. “We are already making plans for more artists-in-residence to join 4e in 2022. Stay tuned.”

“In 2022, 4elements is hosting a workshop series and performance by Candace Irwin and youth participants, with artist funding from Ontario Presents. Exciting things will be happening in 2022,” stated Ms. Snelling.

“The books, ‘The Art of Land-Based Early Learning Volumes  1 and 2’ and ‘Learning the Land: Creative Community Engagements,” written by Sophie Edwards and Heather Thoma are sold on our website and also at a book store in Toronto. Sales have continued to be steady,” said Ms. Snelling.

“Finally, a special note of thanks to Melanie Hunt and Samantha Ramage, dedicated board members who are finishing their terms (on the board) tonight. Non-profit arts organizations run on the time and effort of volunteers and people who are wiling to take on the responsibilities of board service deserve our thanks and gratitude,” explained Ms. Snelling. “Mel and Sam, we appreciate everything you contributed and 4elements is stronger for your contributions. We wish you all the best.”

Ms. Snelling pointed out, “2021 was another unusual year, but we are pleased to say that our communities continue to engage with land-based arts, and we know that 2022 will be a time for still more exciting opportunities to bring land, arts and community together.”

An election for directors was held at the meeting. Along with Ms. Snelling remaining on the board for this term are Gail Los, Melanie Hastings and Richard Lathwell. Also receiving nominations and being acclaimed as new members of the board were Barbara Baker and Carly Valente.