By Jane Litchfield, GAC Volunteer

Guelph’s geology and plant life will come to life in new and creative ways thanks to funding from a Guelph Arts Council award.

The Research and Renewal award creates opportunities for local creatives to engage with archives, collections, and resources in developing research-based art projects. GAC supporter and volunteer Jason Nadon initiated the new award.

“I am always looking for ways to give back,” Nadon said. “The last two years have been so hard on creatives and I wanted to come up with something that would help…. The concept of ‘Research and Renewal’ came to mind as it lives at the intersection of all that I am passionate about: community, heritage and creation.”

Nadon, GAC and the award jury were pleased with the applicants for the award and chose to fund two multi-disciplinary art projects addressing themes of Guelph’s heritage and community. One is a collaboration proposed by Silas Chinsen and Lizzy Mikulich, the other is by individual music artist Alia Miroshnichenko. 

Silas Chinsen and Lizzy Mikulich, courtesy of the artists

Glaciers and limestone

Silas Chinsen and Lizzy Mikulich’s research proposal is called Carved From Stone. The proposal says it will “examine Guelph’s long history with limestone to use as the creative material for two pieces of music and animation. The work will use field recordings of local limestone and bodies of water, and the animation of historic photos and original drawings.

“The music and animation of the first piece will depict the melting of glaciers and the eroding of rock using audio samples as textural, percussive, and melodic instruments. Limestone provided Guelph with both the materials to build many of its older buildings in the downtown area, and an economic resource to the growing city,” the proposal says. The second piece will scan and animate old photos of historic buildings to use in conjunction with the audio.

Silas Chinsen is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist based in Guelph. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music in Classical Guitar and Voice Performance. Lizzy Mikulich is an emerging artist who works in digital drawing and animation. She is a recent graduate from the University of Guelph’s Studio Art program

Mushroom music

Alia Miroshnichenko, courtesy of the Artist

Alia Miroshnichenko is a Siberian-Canadian composer, operatic singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer. Her proposal aims to “rediscover the connection between the Guelph community and its plant-based life by creating a series of musical compositions that would involve collaborative musical co-operation between human and non-human subjects like trees, mushrooms, and plants… using an electronic device with censors to read biometric data” and building her music compositions around the biodata.

Alia Miroshnichenko holds a PhD in Digital Media/Communication and Culture from York University, and an MA and BA from  the University of Guelph. She plans to conduct her research at the Arboretum at U of G. “I chose the Arboretum because it is symbolic on many levels: it is a part of Guelph’s identity, but it also represents the Canadian identity mosaic: many plants and trees in the Arboretum were contributed and donated from across the world, and in that, they represent the local community.” The music composition will have an accompanying digital exhibition space where the community will be able to engage with the artwork.

GAC Executive Director Patti Broughton is excited about the new award and the projects it will generate: “Support for artists’ exploration and discovery – so fundamental to the creative process – is important, and we’re so grateful for Jason’s vision and generosity in supporting this new GAC award.” 

Watch for updates on these projects on GAC social media and at

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