The Agnes Etherington Art Centre, in partnership with the Cultural Studies and Fine Art (Visual Art) Programs, brought Glasgow-based Canadian artist Ciara Phillips to Queen’s University as a 2016 Visiting Artist-in-Residence. Phillips’ five-week residency at the Agnes extended the first major exhibition in Canada by this artist, who is internationally celebrated for her printmaking practice. The exhibition presented Phillips’ process-marked print semiotics: energetic blocks of colour, repeating motifs, slogans and, recently, black and white portraits of women engaged in focused work. Phillips’ Turner prize-nominated Workshop (2010-ongoing) transformed the Davies Foundation Gallery into an active space of investigation, social action, discussion and debate. This space, with worktables and screen-printing equipment, became a site for a suite of community and student engagement activities.
The residency complemented the exhibition Ciara Phillips: Comrade Objects retrospective on the mid-career artist’s work, and was likewise structured by a sense of return: Phillips’s revisiting Queen’s University, where she first studied art. For example, she co-produced work in situ with her former teacher, Canadian artist, artist-curator and artist-publisher Clive Robertson. Building further on this concern for spaces of learning, Workshop (2010-ongoing) was a magnet for visitors, including diverse groups that participated in collective creation in the gallery space. Associated programs, including Free Family Care and The Globe and Mail Feminist Reading Group extended the feminist goals of Phillips’s work as well as the broader theme of hospitality driving our contemporary art programs.
Visitors to the gallery were witness to artistic collaborations between Phillips and Art History Bader Post-Doctoral Fellow Jennifer Kennedy, several invited community members, students in Fine Arts, Cultural Studies, Art History and Film and Media. Highlights from the residency included tours and discussions for Kingston and student audiences led by Ciara Phillips and Curator of Contemporary Art Sunny Kerr. Other meaningful impacts of the residency included a reading/artmaking workshop co-presented with Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre for participants from Your Own Grad School, a poster-making collaboration session with visiting Cree-Métis artist Cheryl L’Hirondelle, and a Grandmother’s Council organized through Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre and Dylan Robinson, the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Art.