Summer Studio Residency at Stride Gallery, Calgary

By Levin Ifko

On an early September evening here in Mohkinstsis, Stride Gallery hosted an open house celebrating the artists who took part in the gallery’s first ever Summer Studio Residency. Over the past couple months, Morgan Black, Honey Jalali, Michelle Ku, and Marsel Reddick have been busy creating art while learning from each other and the mentorship provided by the artist-run centre. The artists met bi-weekly as a cohort alongside the gallery’s staff to exchange ideas, feedback, and resources. Additionally, each artist had access to Stride’s main space, archival library, meeting spaces, tools, and materials as well as time dedicated to exploring their individual and collaborative art practices.

Honey Jalali, Being a Birde (detail), 2023, publication

With the gallery divided into four smaller studio areas, the artists took the opportunity to make each space their own. Iranian-born and Calgary-based artist Honey Jalali’s work this summer involved painting, stamping, and mark-making on the gallery walls to create compositions in ink that are textured and all-encompassing. She also used her time during the residency to create a zine-style publication that she distributed to visitors during the open house. Entitled Being a Birde, this publication guides viewers through the artist’s interdisciplinary practice and highlights the importance of birds for her. Via photography, drawing, and the incorporation of Arabic and English text, Being a Birde is poetic and pictorial, with the reader being drawn into the process of connecting to a bird’s journey.

Reddick, Marsel, documentation of performance Musical Tarot Readings (2023), performed by Jeremy Gignoux on September 8, 2023 at Stride Gallery

Artist and writer Marsel Reddick’s engaging work invites visitors to explore themes of magic, identity, and community. Thoughtfully interactive, Reddick’s project Bus Pass is a collection of tarot cards designed by the artist to be disseminated on buses across the city. Each card in this Major Arcana deck is paired with a chosen figure from transmasculine history. Bus Pass comes complete with a coil-bound booklet containing pictures of each tarot card and a short passage about the figure it represents.

While Reddick spoke with visitors about their projects, local musician Jeremy Gignoux performed an iteration of musical tarot readings – an ongoing performance piece by the artist that gives viewers an opportunity to gain insight into what energies are to play out in their futures. Each participant picks three tarot cards from a standard deck, and lays them out on a table. Then they put on headphones, and listen as the reader-turned-musician across the table performs an improvised piano composition based off of the cards they’ve chosen.

Michelle Ku in the Stride Gallery studio space

Artist and illustrator Michelle Ku displayed a series of whimsical paintings that complemented the sense of magic introduced into the space by her fellow artists-in-residence. Ku made use of Stride’s workshop to produce her first body of woodcut paintings, which bring a whole new sense of scale and dimension to her bright-coloured storytelling. From smaller paintings to the larger woodcut works and murals, Ku’s studio offered a timeline of her creative process this summer, which has also been thoroughly documented on the artist’s Instagram page.

Morgan Black, Reflections (detail), 2023, publication

Morgan Black spent time during the residency incorporating their wood carving practise into a series of collage-based works. Detailed and pattern-based, bingo cards are cut and paired with one another, brought together with familiar splatters of a round bingo stamp. Alongside this work, Black also produced Reflections, a small zine-style risograph-printed publication that offers glimpses into the artist’s thoughts, learnings, and community. A collection of moments, phrases, textures, and photographs printed in deep blue ink, this work is described by the artist as a chance to “inspire musings in the reader about their own role in the universe.” It also offered insight into their process, and, in turn, shed light on some of the many learnings the artists had while participating in the Summer Studio Residency program.

An open house, buzzing with fellow artists and community members, is a reminder that we should take time to celebrate art and the artists who share with us. While celebrating artists at an open house, there are opportunities to reconnect with a thriving arts community and to learn how we can care for our own communities of collaboration and support.

Stride Gallery:
Summer Studio Residency Open House:
The gallery is partially accessible.

Levin Ifko is an interdisciplinary artist and programs coordinator currently based in Mohkinstsis (Calgary). They will talk your ear off about music, queerness in art and community. Mostly, they believe in art as an opportunity to connect with ourselves and our communities.