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Laura St. Pierre
Artist

Saskatoon
July 25, 2018

Since completing her MFA in 2006, Laura St. Pierre has received a dozen project grants from provincial and national funders, including the Canada Council for the Arts. In 2017, she received the Female Visual Artist Award from the Saskatchewan Foundation for the Arts. Her work can be found in public and private collections including the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Art Gallery of Alberta, and the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul. In the last year, she has exhibited at the Bonavista Biennale in Newfoundland, VivianeArt in Calgary, the Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina, aka artist-run and The Gallery/Art Placement in Saskatoon, and Foire Papier and Galerie Luz in Montreal. She is also included in this summer's cross-Saskatchewan's public art project Roadside Attractions.

1. Enclosed growing spaces


Laura St. Pierre, Autopark, 2010, Ford F150 with native plants, irrigation, and ventilation systems

In 2010 I converted eight defunct vehicles into greenhouses. I’ve been obsessed with enclosed growing spaces ever since. Small scale wonders include David Latimer’s fifty-year-old bottled terrarium that hasn’t been watered since 1972. Large scale attempts include the University of Arizona’s 3.14 acre Biosphere 2, Russia’s BIOS projects, and the Eden Project in Cornwall. They are fascinating on both a psychological and an ecological level, especially if you’re planning to live in a giant climate-controlled dome to escape climate change. (Spoiler alert: none of these projects goes all that well.) For a cheesy/terrifying sci-fi take on the idea, check out Scott Russel Sanders’ 1985 novel Terrarium.

2. Houseplants



Houseplants clean the air and alleviate depression, especially during the long cold Prairie winters. If I didn’t share a small house with other humans and a couple of animals, I’d definitely be giving New York’s Plant Lady a run for her money. My current fave is Strawberry Firetails (acalypha pedula). It puts out the best pink fuzzy cones if given just the right amount of light and water.

3. Lori Blondeau


Lori Blondeau, Are You My Mother?, 2018, performance photo-documentation (photo: Troy Gronsdahl)

One of Saskatchewan’s best kept secrets is artist Lori Blondeau. Her current exhibition at the College Art Galleries is titled Grace: A Survey. Her earlier photo work uses humor to poke fun at racist stereotypes about Indigenous women, while more recent performance-based projects get at the underbelly of colonial Canada through personal narrative. It’s well worth a road trip to Saskatoon to catch this show, which is on until August 30.

4. Online learning about art



I’m developing an online undergraduate introductory course about contemporary art for the local university, and tracking down good resources has been a big part of curriculum development. Much to my surprise, the quantity and quality of resources for beginners learning about art is astounding. Great art history references include smarthistory.org, theartstory.org, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and philinthecircle’s videos on YouTube. None of these will be useful in helping you research your dissertation, but are great if you have art lovers in your life who want accessible resources to learn more.

In terms of contemporary art, there’s the ubiquitous Art 21 series (with a segment on Vancouver artists in season 8), as well as Canadian Art magazine’s interviews with Canadian artists and cultural workers and AkimboTV’s Views and Artland documentaries. PBS’s YouTube channel The Art Assignment has it all: some accessible and entertaining takes on art history, some coverage of contemporary art, and some art assignments for those of you wanting a taste of the good old BFA days.

5. Gardening



Nothing soothes my soul like turning a couple of tiny seeds into enough tomatoes to supply a salsa factory. One of the perks of living in Saskatoon is owning a house with a big yard and enough space to grow almost anything a short growing season will permit. Gardening can also help bridge the political divide: I shared some sour cherries from my tree with my ultra-right-wing Christian neighbor and suddenly we’re talking recipes instead of glaring at each other’s election signs. While weeding, I often listen to Michael Pollan’s Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education. This meditation on humankind’s relationship with nature is a classic, and the audiobook, read by the author, is thoroughly entertaining.

 

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