I am an interdisciplinary artist from Halifax, NS. I was the founder and custodian of the McCleave Gallery of Fine Art since 2002 until the suitcase gallery merged with the Suitcase Art Gallery Space Research Institute (SAGSRI) in 2007. From 2009-2013 I worked as Director of Eyelevel Gallery and representative for the Association of Artist-run Centres from the Atlantic. I have curated works throughout Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, and Ireland, and exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in galleries, festivals, and artist-run centres across Canada. I recently finished my MFA in Intermedia at NSCAD University where I completed my two most recent works, BEACON and STATION.
My work stems from an interest in intergenerational communications between individuals, media, and our available historical and readymade infrastructure. Through this interest, my work explores various methods of media distribution, skill sharing, and experimental translation with careful attention to the distortions or biases that occur throughout each evolution. I have created work for temporary installations in national historic sites and municipal facilities or monuments for festivals, biennials, galleries, and public spaces.
fostering a much needed critical discourse
I left Nova Scotia to pursue a BA in Studio Arts at the University of Guelph when I was eighteen, and kept in touch with VANS remotely from time to time to keep up to date on what was happening back home. I joined VANS as a member in 2007 when I returned home to Halifax after several years in Ontario and the Yukon, and was lucky to land a job as the Communications Coordinator of VANS from 2008 to 2009. I have remained a member of VANS since, and have served as a jury member and guest artist on a few occasions.
I have access many of the resources that VANS offers from a number of angles. As Director of Eyelevel Gallery from 2009-2013, I found the benefits of Eyelevel Gallery being an organizational member of VANS to be extremely beneficial for both organizations particularly in linking the variety of interests and approaches of artists to a unified voice for artists and art practitioners living and working in Nova Scotia. I have found the VANS newsletters tremendously useful when seeking jobs, calls for submissions, or grant deadlines, all of which are essential to maintaining a steady art practice in Nova Scotia. The links that VANS makes with organizations across Nova Scotia and abroad as publisher of Visual Arts News provides the only publication dedicated to covering work by Atlantic Canadian Artists. This publication greatly benefits Atlantic Canadian artists, arts organizations, and writers through fostering a much needed critical discourse around our work.
working with my grandfather as a mentor, storyteller and family archivist
I use improvisational site-specific installations as a navigational primary research tool to inform my work. The experiential elements of this process are important to understanding the atmospheric qualities of the media that I research. This process opens up a conversation between the work I set up and the public participants and invited guests who greatly influence my studio work that follows. Most recently I have been working with my grandfather as a mentor, storyteller and family archivist to understand his experiences as a radio operator for the DEW Line project in 1953.
This “field work” is followed by further theoretical research and studio work that involves a wide spectrum of media and materials. I have made paintings, photographs, poetry, soft sculpture, video, audio art, electronic, music, installation, and performance based work. In many cases my work is informed by social, political, or histories that are overlooked or uninformed.
persistence, and willingness
The challenges of finding time, studio space, resources, or finances to keep making work have and likely always will exist no matter how successful my art practice may become. Communicating these needs to curators, galleries or collaborators can sometimes be a struggle, but taking the time to carefully read and consider contracts, and how they may or may not benefit not only my work, but my personal and family life is something that I feel is important to maintaining my practice in the long term.
I have learned that planning projects far in advance and being open to experimentation and adjustments when projects don’t work out as planned can make creating new work far more enjoyable, and productive. I have often been the most productive while insanely busy, but feel that during down times in between can allow for clear reflection and inspiration of new ideas. Persistence, and willingness to accept and exchange criticism, rejection, support, and advice by practically anyone is something I feel is important as well.
ARTsPLACE, The Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and the Yukon Arts Centre
In May I completed a work titled Snow Birds that I am sending down to Havana with Sophia Bartholomew’s Resolute Parka. Snow Birds will be exhibited in the Resolute Parka as part of a group show at the 2015 Havana Biennial. I have recently graduated from NSCAD’s MFA program where I completed a work titled STATION. This is being shown at ARTsPLACE, The Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and the Yukon Arts Centre in the coming year. In the near future I will begin working on a new project titled The Telephone Room that explores Prince Edward Island’s communications history and it’s impact on the current social structure of the Island. I will begin research for this as an artist-in resident at the Confederation Centre for the Arts for the Art in the Open Festival this coming August, 2015.
Lean more about Michael McCormack and his artwork via his website: