“Amelia Merhar discusses a participatory arts-based inquiry project she co-researched with young adults who have lived in Canada’s child welfare system. In her fun, engaging, and pointed way she talks about methodology, findings, outcomes and what art can do that other forms of research might not be able to. Amelia is an artist, researcher, facilitator, youth worker, policy analyst, and pretty amazing person”
Moving Home: The Art and Embodiment of Transience Among Youth Emerging from Canada’s Child Welfare System is my MA thesis in Human Geography at York University.
Working with 15 co-researcher artists ages 18-29 with lived experience in care in Toronto and Whitehorse, this project questioned what sort of people is the child welfare system inadvertently creating through multiple placements. Subsections include a focus on emotions, relations and movement depicted in the art, and a chapter on the emergent theme of resilience and resistance, and the urge to give back and create a community for former youth in care.
The research had public talk August 17th at Ontario Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, and another talk TBD in Whitehorse. A zine version of the thesis will been launched as well as an art show presented Critical Distance Centre for Curators August 17 to 26.
I built a tree out of wood, zines, birch bark, wire, paper mache, branches and a solid typewriter base. This Zine Tree is a community installation designed to grow zine culture in the north, a distro and a creation station all at once. Free photocopying too! This piece plays on the idea of a tree of knowledge, even down to the details, as the zine shelves are collaged with pages from an encyclopedia called The Book of Knowledge.
I am the Whitehorse Public Zine Librarian, and am using the collection as part of the community installation. I feel strongly that zine culture can do well here, I even tabled at the local gun show one year and it was wildly successful. Many in the North live without running water or electricity, by choice, and I see Northern resourcefulness, off-grid aspirations and zines as a great potential threesome.
July is International Zine Month, and I have several free workshops you can come to and make zines at, or just learn more about what a zine is at Northern Zine: The Zine Tree Project art show at the Edge Gallery at Arts Underground, the show is open Tuesday to Saturday 10-5 pm until July 26th.
Here’s an interview I did with CBC Radio One about the project, zines, and #julyisinternationalzinemonth on July 2nd.
If you have any zines you would like to donate to the project, please get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the Transfer Station Artist Residency I piloted In the summer and fall of 2013 in Fairbanks Alaska.It was really successful and it felt really good to be giving back to the community, and the arts in general, by simply providing a space to create. And what an experience to be on the ACCEPTING end of arts applications, I learned a lot from the experience on good proposal writing.
Resartis is really the best organization for artist residencies worldwide, but the Transfer Station project shows that you can easily start your own, as I did, with a spare cabin on rental property. Some people charge a fair amount of money and include food and tours for the artists, some simply share a space for cheap as I did, and casually and organically connect artists with events in the community.
I have wanted to start a residency since the early 2000’s, but my plan was always make some money, get some land then start it. That is not the only path, thankfully!