Arts & Health works with a dynamic group of professional artists from a multiplicity of artistic disciplines, including dance, writing, video, puppetry, voice, painting, weaving, carving, drawing and more. In addition to bringing expertise in their respective fields, these artists have experience in and receive training for facilitating community-engaged arts experiences through our Community of Practice programming.
What is community-engaged art?
A community-engaged art practice is a working collaboration between professional artists and community participants who work on the creative expression of ideas and issues that are important to them. It is cooperative, participatory, and focused on exploration, creation, and relationship-building. The process of creation is as important as the final product.
"Seeing each of the seniors glow with confidence was a fantastic memory that I will never forget."
"The challenges we experience through language barriers is also a gift. We all need to pay very close attention to each other in order to be understood and learn from one another"
"I believe that as we recall and reconsider our stories, we recall and re-consider ourselves, the world, and our place in it."
"Participants are gaining an enormous amount of confidence within themselves through this workshop and gaining confidence can only benefit your health.”
Joylyn Secunda is a Vancouver based actor, clown, dancer, and puppeteer. She is a graduate of the UBC BFA Acting program, class of 2016. UBC acting credits include Eurydice (Big Stone) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Rachel). Since her completion of the BFA she has appeared in Renegade Arts Co.’s production of the musical HAIR, and most recently she played Arlecchino in an original Commedia Dell’Arte show, Love, Lust & Lace, at the Vancouver Fringe, produced by her BFA class’ theatre collective, Gas Pedal Productions, and directed by Chris McGregor of Axis Theatre. She is currently working on a solo character comedy show, which will debut at the Toronto Fringe in July 2017.
Anna is a contemporary dance artist with a keen interest in nature-based education. She loves being involved in community-engaged dance and the amazing people she meets as a result. Anna has had the pleasure of working on community dance projects with Joe Ink, Sylvain Émard Danse, Made In BC, LINK Dance and now the Arts and Health project. As a choreographer she connects her work to environmental advocacy, collaborating with organizations such as the St. George Rainway project, Ancient Forest Alliance, and The Urban Nestwork. Anna completed her BFA in dance at SFU in 2010 and will finish her Environmental Studies degree at Langara college in 2017.
Todd Devries first started weaving in 2001. Since then he has been perfecting his weaving techniques and weaving full-time. Todd, also known as “Giihlgiigaa”, his Haida name has been sharing his skills, and teaching other weavers how to master materials of their own choosing in a weaving circle in Vancouver, BC.
“Everything we need to know about weaving, we learn from the spider,” Todd says. “You start with 4 warps or strands (the spider’s legs) and weave in a weft strand or weaver, and form the Haida cross, and then weave around the legs of the spider, as a spider would when spinning its own web. Around and around.”
When Todd moved to Vancouver, BC in 2010, he started working for a small restaurant as a prep-cook and volunteered to perform a weaving demonstration at Stanley Park’s Northwest Coast Klahowya Village attraction. His work is on display and for sale at the restaurant, Salmon n Bannock. “Cooking and weaving seems to go together,” says Todd. Todd grew up separated from his culture, until in 1996 he reunited with his mother. And then in 2001, he started weaving with Cedar bark. Not until 2005 did he start weaving with the traditional Haida technique, demonstrated to him by Sherri Dick, and his style changed dramatically. In 2010, Todd learned some additional Haida signature techniques from Holly Churchill. His favorite material is western red cedar bark. Since his vision of the old woman of the forest, and a Haida woman asking him to get her some cedar bark, he has had a different perspective on cedar trees. Todd through his volunteer demonstration at Stanley Park, and through a weaving circle (2010 – 2014), has met with a few weavers who share techniques and project ideas to do. On his website, Todd’s hats and wristbands are on display. There are many more creations that could be made and added to the display, including placemats and more hats. Those items seem to be snatched up faster than he can make them. Todd Giihlgiigaa hopes to continue teaching and sharing this wonderful technique, materials, and weaving in general. Weaving is really motivating when you have a eager to learn group of weavers.
Olivia C. Davies
Olivia C. Davies is an independent dance artist, choreographer, and community arts facilitator whose work investigates the body’s dynamic ability to transmit narrative. Davies trained at York University, and in 2006, she co-founded Toronto’s MataDanze Collective where she co-created numerous revolutionary dance-theatre works and movement workshops. Commissioned to perform for open-air stages, galas, gallery openings, and music videos, Davies collaborates with artists to bring stories to life. Her choreography has adapted words by E.E. Cummings, Khalil Gibran, Julie JC Peters, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Carmen Aguirre and has been presented throughout Ontario and BC. Davies has interpreted work by Art For Impact, Body Narratives Collective, Dancers of Damelahamid, Maura Garcia Dance, Starrwind Dance Projects, and Circadia Indigena Aboriginal Arts Collective. Davies facilitates dance and storytelling workshops, creating safe spaces where women are empowered through movement. She honours her Metis, Anishnawbe, Welsh heritage in her practice. www.oliviacdavies.ca
Desirée Dunbar, MFA is an award winning dance-artist. She is the founder and director of Dezza Dance, Catalyst Mentorship Program & Dance Enhance for Older Adults. She is creator of the celebrated LINK Annual Community Dance Concert, LegUp! and the Connecting Community Dance Series. dezzadance.com/ catalystdance.net
Leah Abramson is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and instructor from Vancouver, B.C. After touring internationally with indie rock and folk bands, as well as her previous project, The Abramson Singers, Leah is now releasing her fourth original album of songs.
Along with her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (focus on lyrics) at the University of British Columbia, Leah has studied classical music at Capilano University and traditional Appalachian balladry and singing with Alice Gerrard and Ginny Hawker.
Leah Abramson has taught songwriting courses and workshops in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia, The Vancouver East Cultural Centre (The Cultch), The Carnegie Centre, and Girls Rock Camp Vancouver.
Leah’s current project, Songs For a Lost Pod, is a collaboration with Pacific Northwest orcas that turns whale vocalizations into beats, and scientific research on marine mammals into lyrical fodder.
Ana Elia Ramon Hidalgo
Ana Elia is a singer, songwriter and song carrier with a strong interest in exploring how one carries songs and offers song in a way that honours and serves what the world asks of us in these times. Traditional songs from her motherland and from other lands that carry grief, joy, praise, courtship and land sing through her of late. She brings this approach to song through her facilitation practices in the form of a language through which groups can meet and share stories in meaningful ways. Her facilitation work is grounded in creative and experiential pedagogies to create collaborative spaces and dialogue around social and environmental concerns. The model of facilitation she draws from is called The Creative Community Model and has been employed with youth and adults throughout the world. The goal of this model is to create an empowering container that enables participants to express their fullness.
Julia Ulehla is a vocalist, actress, and ethnomusicology PhD candidate whose performance and research draw upon traditional song from Slovácko—a region in southeastern Czech Republic at the base of the Carpathian Mountains. She leads the Vancouver-based ensemble Dálava, in which folk songs collected by her great-grandfather are reimagined in contemporary musical arrangements. Dálava has been called “a masterpiece” (fRoots), “incandescent” (Musicworks), “astonishing” (Georgia Straight), and “utter addictive and captivating” (Vancouver Sun). Besides performing internationally with Dálava, other recent collaborators include saxophonist Darius Jones (as an original member of his Elizabeth-Caroline Unit), vocalist Samita Sinha (in Enkidu), and the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards—arguably the world’s greatest laboratory theatre for the exploration of the actor’s presence and the transmission of oral and song-based culture—with whom she spent five years as an actress. During the past three years, she has presented her academic and performance research around Dálava in concert halls, academic colloquia, music festivals, workshops and classrooms.
Roxanne Charles is a mixed media artist from Semiahmoo First Nation.
She is an active and proud member of her community where she promotes
arts, language, and culture. She explores a variety of mediums including
digital, jewelry, engraving, painting, weaving, sculpture, ceramics, and
installation based works.
Roxanne received a BFA as well as a BA in General Studies with Minors in
Art History and Cultural Anthropology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University
is 2016. She is currently completing her Master of Fine Arts at Simon
Her work explores a variety of themes that reflect her lived experience as
an indigenous woman on Turtle Island. Some of the themes commonly
explored in her work are culture, nature, spirituality, environment, identity,
hybridity, urbanization, exploitation, intergenerational trauma, and various
forms of violence (such as lateral, systemic, and domestic).
Roxanne is a contemporary storyteller and historian would like to touch
move and inspire others through her work. Her work activates visual
representation, oral history, and ceremony. Methods which have been
utilized by the Semiahma People for thousands of years. Responding to
and documenting a troubling colonial present.
James Coomber is a composer, sound designer, music director and musician based in Vancouver. His artistic interests lie heavily in collaborative work, where the intermingling of disciplines pushes the boundary of audio-visual forms. Recent collaborations have involved the Arts Club, the Belfry, Alley Theatre, Caravan Stage Company, Hardline Productions, Move: The Company, Rice and Beans Theatre, and Theatre Terrific, among others. His design work has been presented at the 2015 Prague Quadrennial and the 2017 World Stage Design festival in Taipei. He completed degrees in music composition and theatre collaboration from the School of Contemporary Arts at SFU. You can find out more info about his work at jamescoomber.com
Matthew Ariaratnam is a sound artist, composer, guitarist, and improviser, who likes to work with sound as sonic material and as a point of connection to create happenings and relational interactions. He manages this through practices of field recording, soundwalking, musicking, and making site-specific performance. He is currently working on the project, Wayfinding // Wandering, with Julie Hammond, as Artist in Communities, at Sunset Community Centre, Ice Rink, and Moberly Arts & Cultural Centre for the year of 2018.
Matthew focuses on how the act of multimodal listening is a way of being in the world that provides specific knowledge and sensorial information, informing our relationships to others, ourselves, our environment, and community spaces. He has also been creating 1-minute pop songs under the moniker, dumbpop, and released the music on ‘rescued cassette tapes.’
Matthew’s work has been presented and supported by CBC, Vancouver New Music, Vancouver Pro Musica, The Vancouver Foundation, PuSH Festival, Richmond Art Gallery, Vines Art Festival, LocalFM, Vancouver Co-op Radio, and Co.Crea.Tive. His interdisciplinary collaborative practice with dance and theatre has lead him to show work in Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Selections of his writing and scores have been published with Ecstatic Waves (Vancouver), The Mad Times (Toronto), CMA Journal (Vancouver), and Egress Mag (Ottawa, Montreal, & Fredericton). He has an MFA from Simon Fraser University and an Honours BMus in Composition from Wilfrid Laurier University.