LivingArts: The Creative Process - Found in Translation

Over the summer I got the happy news that I’d received a grant through the City Enrichment Fund’s inaugural ‘Creation & Presentation Grants to Artists’ – a program supporting Hamilton artists in developing new artistic work and/or presenting it publicly. I’m pleased to be using the grant to create a short film and installation exploring the creative process.

As a filmmaker/media artist, I’m already familiar with the steps taken with time-based media to complete a film or video. For this project, I’m interested in how artists working in other disciplines take their art from concept to completion – in this case, a painting, song, photograph, dance, and screen print. To that end, I’m filming various artists as they create something from nothing – starting with a literal blank page (or undeveloped film, silence, a still body) and filming with them until they have a completed work.

I’ve enjoyed deep conversations with the people involved, about art making and creativity, their path to the arts, inspiration, and the challenges of working as a professional artist. I’ve found diverse and talented creators who are contemplative critical thinkers, in various stages of their careers, dedicated to expressing themselves through art. Our discussions have been enlightening, filled with unexpected commonalities – who knew how many artists keep a notebook, sketchbook, list, file, or computer folder filled with ideas and inspiration to call on later? Apparently there are lots of us jotting notes, or saving quotes, doodles, lyrics, images, videos, or snippets of songs to refer to again in the future.

With my brilliant cinematographer in tow (also an accomplished artist), half the filming is complete. By the end we’ll have recorded six artists from across the city, Stoney Creek to Dundas, engaging in their artistic practice. We’ll have filmed in three home studios, a conservation area in Ancaster, at The Cotton Factory on Sherman Avenue, and downtown on James St. North at Centre[3].

So far we’ve observed the creation of an ink/mixed media piece by a visual artist who’s also an award-winning architect; we’ve hiked with a photographer through a backdrop of colourful autumn leaves to a cascading waterfall; and we’ve witnessed a rap artist drop beats, add instrumentation, and write and record complicated rhymes, before mixing everything into a finished song that reflects his own unique brand of experimental hip-hop. Next, we’re exploring screen-printing with a young artist still in university, and filming dancers performing amongst the high ceilings, wood beams and large windows of a historic textile mill.

The artists have been generous with their time and creativity – satiating my curiosity, providing inspiration and motivation, and allowing me to indulge in my own creative process as I build the project, translating all the elements into the final film and installation. I’m very appreciative for the opportunity the City Enrichment Fund has given me to delve into others’ creativity close-up, and the catalyst it’s provided to engage in meaningful artistic conversations. I’m humbled by the work of the talented people I’ve met, and pleased that I can shine a light on some of the amazing artists this city has to offer while also making my own work. Thank you to the Arts Advisory Commission and all the organizations and individuals who helped convince City Council to increase their support and funding for the arts and artists of Hamilton. I feel enriched!