Summary

The City of Guelph is once again calling upon artists and artist collectives to participate in its esteemed Artist-in-Residence (AiR) program for the year 2024.

The City of Guelph is once again calling upon artists and artist collectives to participate in its esteemed Artist-in-Residence (AiR) program for the year 2024. This initiative serves as a beacon for creative minds seeking to immerse themselves in Guelph’s community while leaving a lasting impact through their art. As applications open, it’s opportune to reflect on past residents, such as James Gordon, whose project “Rhyme Capsules” captured the essence of Guelph through collaborative storytelling and songwriting

Image courtesy of City of Guelph AiR Program

Can you describe the project that you completed during your residency?

Full report at https://jamesgordon.ca/guelph-artist-in-residence-project-2023 My project – “Rhyme Capsules” engaged with many Guelphites, collecting stories about living in Guelph, and in many cases they participated in the process of writing the 12 songs that came from the interviews and sessions

Can you share some examples of how community members participated in or engaged with your project?

I met with several groups representing a diversity of Guelph Citizens. I visited a senior’s home, The Guelph Chamber Choir, Attendees of the Praise the Ward Festival, Immigration services, and many one-on-one sessions. In each case, the participants shared tales of their experiences living in Guelph. Then, collaboratively, they would take part in the songwriting process so that the resulting songs were co-written with the participants. 

Can you speak on the impact your project had on the community/public spaces in Guelph?

I believe that participants came away with a rewarding experience, helping with the creative process of songwriting and that they felt ‘heard’ .. some of the seniors seemed quite honoured that their stories were valued and appreciated. I think their involvement enhanced their sense of community

How did participating in the residency align with your artistic goals and practices?

I’m all about Community, collaboration, and story sharing.. and this project checked off all those boxes… to be honest though, I wrote more of the songs than I had hoped for. Some storytellers felt shy or uncomfortable with the songwriting process, and they were satisfied just by telling their tales and then leaving it to me to create the song. That being said, those who DID take part I’m the creative process were very effective and several valuable collaborations resulted in some pretty cool songs.

Did your experience during the residency influence any future artistic projects?

Yes, I think I was able to establish a model for community participation that I’ll be able to use in other situations.

What advice would you give to applicants for this year’s Guelph Artist in Residence program?

Go for it! It’s a great program. My advice would be to make sure the ’scope’ of the project is deliverable and manageable. Mine ended up being pretty ambitious for the time and compensation offered. Applications for The City of Guelph’s Artist in Residence program are open until March 5th at 11:59 pm. Click here to view the application details and apply today!

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