Three Emily Carr University alumni and one current MFA student were recently awarded grants from the esteemed Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation.
Sara-Jeanne Bourget (MFA 2019), Robin Gleason (MFA 2019) and Kyle Scheurmann (MFA 2018) are “Second Grant Recipients,” each having received first grants the year previous. ECU student Mark Johnsen (MFA 2020 Candidate) is a First Grant Recipient.
Greenshields Foundation Grants are awarded to “young artists who are pursuing their studies or are in the early or developmental stage of their career, are working in a representational style of painting drawing, sculpture or printmaking, and demonstrate the determination and talent to pursue a lifetime career in their art practice.”
To date, the Foundation has provided financial assistance to roughly 1900 artists in 40 countries. Previous grantees include renowned artists such as Sarah Gillespie, Mark James Lang and Jenny Saville.
According to her artist's statement, Sara-Jeanne's drawing and printmaking practice "is led by a fascination for the tactile and metaphorical potential of geological formations, and the inherent materiality of both paper and handmade charcoal. Working primarily with naturally sourced charcoal that she makes following a set of self-given rules, she inquires how a deep-seated awareness of materials is rooted in the intimate knowledge of their provenance, production, and uses.
"She explores the physical and conceptual interconnections between rocks, paper and charcoal, aiming to unveil how these driving forces are interlocked in a constant, reciprocally affecting play. Based on documentation of rock formations she visited and the embodied knowledge of her material making practice, she uses drawing and printmaking as reactive methods to make meaning through and with various kinds of representation."
Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grants have "had a profound impact on my art practice and life in general," Sara-Jeanne says.
"I am extremely grateful for this support, and I can confidently admit that it has played an important role in my personal and professional success. Having received the support from Elizabeth Greenshields has been my anchor ... It has helped me in establishing myself here in Vancouver by financially assisting me in paying my tuition and keeping up with rent and the cost of an art practice. I feel connected with the Foundation’s community, through the kind of work I make and the friends I have made who are also grantees. This sentiment of extreme appreciation is shared between us. I am humbled by how generous the foundation has been with me, and eternally grateful for its help and support."
"My interdisciplinary work explores our evolving relationship to materials and the natural world," Robin writes in her artist's statement. "My ever-expanding practice encompasses methods of drawing, printmaking, paper cutting, installation, sculpture and assemblage. Walking and collecting, whether along the shoreline or in the woods, inform my place-based work.
"Through gestures of printing, cutting, stacking and carving, I explore the shift between two-dimensional and three-dimensional renderings of pattern and texture in the physical world. I see my work as an invitation for the viewer to share a quiet moment with the forms and textures in front of them, to slow down and look closely. Through this invitation, I hope that I can suggest a more interdependent relationship, in which we are intrinsically tied to the natural surroundings that sustain and support us."
As an emerging artist, Robin says the Greenshields Grants have given her "a sense of stability and freedom at a really uncertain point in my career.
"These grants have given me space to breathe, and helped me to expand and strengthen my practice over the last two years. The support from their grants (2018, 2019) allowed me to give all my focus to completing my MFA, and has helped me navigate the financially tricky transition from student to working artist."
In his artist's statement, Mark writes that his practice "centres on exploring the possibilities of the unique hand-pulled print in an era of digital reproduction. Through studies of material exploration, traditional and non-traditional printing techniques, Mark works to capture gestural and representational time-stamps as a record of living through a creative process"
He has exhibited and led workshops internationally, in the United Kingdom, Istanbul, Japan, New Zealand and in Canada. Later this year, Mark will be be one of two printmakers representing Canada in the 2nd Annual International Triennial of Graphic Arts taking place in Livno, Bosnia.
"It truly has been a remarkable year, largely due to the generous support from the Elizabeth Greenshields Grant," Mark says.
"Because of the support I received from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, I have been able to continue my graduate studies at Emily Carr University, participate in an international residency, show my work both domestically and abroad, and actualize my dream of teaching. Again, I can’t express enough gratitude for the assistance I have received. The professional contacts I’ve made and the opportunity to make and show my artworks have been set forth by this unimaginable gift."
In his artist's statement, Kyle writes: "Drawing from geographically distinct sources and intimate personal encounters with various ecosystems, I compile hybrid environments in paint. This allows me to create a living painted woods of my own fabrication, highlighting phenomenological experiences alongside regional bionomics.
"I do this in the field by analyzing both visual and non-visual sensory elements to inform aesthetic decisions. Serving as an antenna for underlying sensory information coming up from the earth, I paint not only what I see but also what I sense. The act of painting in situ becomes a calibration of senses that moves beyond the literalness of landscape.
"The ecological and anthropological lessons of the regions I paint are the guide for new compositions. I respectfully enter each new land as a guest and student. Recently, this has resulted in paintings of distress. Fires and floods have become the content of the paintings as the environment continues to change beyond all historical norms.
"The fluidity of the paint is in correspondence with the ever transforming state of the earth; stuck between growth and decay, continually resolving itself for the viewer. I interpret field studies on a large scale informed by the composition of the study and the embodied knowledge acquired from time in the woods. As a result, the energy from the landscape becomes stored in the paint as it dries on the canvas."
Kyle says the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation has "given me the opportunity to participate in several international residencies and exhibitions that I would not be able to achieve on my own. They have made an immeasurable difference in my life and painting practice these last two years and I am so incredibly grateful for their continued generous support."