‘This is where the spark starts’

WAG-Qaumajuq unveils new studio

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This article was published 23/11/2021 (270 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s doubtful the greats like Monet and Rembrandt could have created their masterpieces without one key ingredient: dynamic light.

In understanding light as inspiration, the Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq is elevating its in-house art programming with a new studio on the penthouse floor.

“It’s a dream,” Rachel Baerg, head of learning and programs, said. “We’ve really been thrilled with these designated spaces.”

Photo by Katlyn Streilein The new WAG Studio at Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq is four times the size of the previous space.

The WAG Studio’s six-room facility, designed by Qaumajuq’s architect Michael Maltzan, gives students of all ages and skill levels four times the space of the gallery’s former studio to delve into new and traditional art forms.

The original studio was located in the basement, and more recently, it operated out of a former dentist office adjacent to the gallery.

The studio will welcome hundreds of students from regional school divisions to full day workshops, in addition to folks who sign up for session courses. More than 20,000 students attend studio and tour programs each year, the WAG reports.

Photo by Katlyn Streilein Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced the renewal of a three-year memorandum of understanding between Manitoba Education and WAG-Qaumajuq on Nov. 16.

The new space also offers access to the rooftop sculpture garden, where artists can paint and draw en plein air in view of the downtown skyline. Just inside, a ceramics studio is equipped with over a half dozen pottery wheels and four canvas work tables.

“Now it feels like people are seeing what we do up here — this is where the spark starts for becoming an artist,” Cara Mason, learning and programs coordinator, said.

Students in the interactive digital media program at Sisler High School co-designed the new media studio and the corresponding programs.

Photo by Katlyn Streilein The ceramics studio is one of the facility's six new work spaces.

“These kids are so tech-savvy. They are so beyond what I ever experienced as a kid in terms of art. The work that they’re creating is just stunning,” Mason said.

Baerg envisions the studio hosting outdoor student animation jams in the sculpture garden during the summer months.

As part of the official launch, WAG-Qaumajuq renewed its three-year “memorandum of understanding” with Manitoba Education. The provincial government will continue to support curriculum-based programs for K-12 students under the agreement.

“This partnership benefits youth across the province by sharing resources and expertise to enrich the experience of learning through art,” said Stephen Borys, director and CEO of WAG-Qaumajuq, during the Nov. 16 unveiling.

Minister of Education Cliff Cullen praised the new facility for its potential to involve younger generations with WAG-Qaumajuq’s collection.

“This collaboration of research and expertise will facilitate students’ discovery of themselves as artistic learners,” Cullen said.

The minister also commended the partnership’s commitment to offering programs developed by First Nations educators and leaders that focus on Indigenous cultures.

Accomplished artists such as Kent Monkman, Kenneth Lavallee, and Wanda Koop took classes at WAG Studio in their youth. Now, 85 years after its inception, Mason and Baerg anticipate the new space will continue to spark the imagination of emerging artists.

Registration is now open for WAG Studio’s winter classes. For more information, visit www.wag.ca

Katlyn Streilein

Katlyn Streilein
Community Journalist

Katlyn Streilein is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She can be reached by phone at 204-697-7132 or by email at katlyn.streilein@canstarnews.com

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