This reciprocal relationship-building project celebrates the long vernacular tradition of street art in Kingston, points to alternative art histories embedded in our city streets and provides a framework for experiential learning and co-curriculum development conceived in collaboration with faculty and students from Queen’s Art Conservation Program. In the classroom, we trace the lineages of “acts of urban chaos;” in the conservation lab, we consider why certain paint colours fade more quickly; in the gallery, we have honest conversations along the way, exploring the ethics of preserving street art, the conundrum of being an art institution working along-side submerged cultural practices without co-opting them and collectively questioning who benefits from exchanges with imbalanced power dynamics. And we produce the first-ever in-situ graffiti project on the actual architectures of Queen’s!
Curator of the project Oriah Scott writes, “Style writing and graffiti are not about art. For many, it’s about having a voice. A voice that, once bright, erodes, decays and disappears. It is erased by weather, time and status quo. It is about staking monuments in a place that often casts you out. Graffiti as a form can often be a “pissing contest,” a search for who can shout the loudest, but it is also something more; it is a call to action, a wish, a Farwell, a sly way of saying what you really mean. It is political, and apolitical alike, and if you must ask what it means, then it can mean nothing at all if you need it to. I use graffiti to remember, walk softly, careful not to displease the dead.”
The residency, large-scale, site-specific commission and experiential education initiative are conceived and produced by Emelie Chhangur, Agnes Director and Curator in partnership with Patricia Smithen, Assistant Professor, Paintings Conservation and Director, Art Conservation Program, Queens University.
Generously funded by the Stonecroft Foundation and the City of Kingston Arts Fund, Kingston Arts Council.