Visual Arts Thematic Residency: Plastic – Online 2021


Sara Belontz, Fragments and pellets from a 1x10m sample area, Bronte Beach, Oakville, 2mm-7mm plastic fragments. Photo: Tegan Moore



Banff Centre is excited to offer online Visual Arts programs to inspire and sustain your practice, and support vital artistic conversations and connections during this time of travel restrictions and social distancing. Join us and our incredible faculty for this fully-funded program:

Plastic – Online 2021
Online program
July 12 – 30, 2021
Application Deadline: June 16, 2021


Led by faculty Heather Davis, with Lan Tuazon, and guest lecturers Kelly Jazvac and the Synthetic Collective, this residency explores how we might reconfigure our relations to plastic, seeing it as a material of potential connection, of resilience, of queer productivity without denying its immediate and devastating environmental consequences. What might happen if we thought of plastic as incredibly valuable material, rather than as immanently expendable? We invite makers and thinkers to reimagine their relations with this now fundamental material, to explore processes of recycling and reconstituting, and to pay attention to the uneven materialities of plastic and its affordances as an artistic material.

This online program will provide a discursive forum for visual artists, curators, and other cultural producers to explore plastic in relation to their work, communities, geographic locations, and current societal conversations. Participants will form an online community of peers; share work with each other and continue work already in progress; partake in online studio visits; participate in conversations, presentations, and workshops; and engage with faculty and each other to develop ideas, insights, and connections that can be applied to the theoretical and practical development of their practice.

*Financial Aid up to 100% available.

Please visit the program page for more information and to apply.


Deanna Bowen, A Harlem Nocturne
Walter Phillips Gallery, April 15 to July 18, 2021
Curated by Kimberly Phillips
Organized and circulated by the Contemporary Art Gallery
Virtual Tours offered on Thursdays and Saturdays until July 17th


Deanna Bowen’s artistic practice concerns itself with histories of Black experience in Canada and the US. Her focus is the “dark matter” in our midst: figures and events that have remained below the threshold of visibility not because they are impossible to find but because their existence reveals a systematized racism difficult for the majority culture to acknowledge. Bowen reactivates historic material sourced from overlooked archives through a process of extraction, translation and enlargement, and then reinserts this material into public consciousness in a new form.

The presentation of A Harlem Nocturne at Walter Phillips Gallery marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in Alberta and presents a terrain of research that Bowen undertook in Toronto and Vancouver in 2017–19, recovered from civic documents, newspaper clippings and numerous personal and organizational archives. These materials trace a series of interconnected figures—many of them part of Bowen’s own family—who formed an integral part of the Canadian entertainment community from the 1940s through the 1970s. As Black bodies living and working in a settler colony underpinned by institutionalized racism, they were at once invisible and hyper-visible, simultaneously admired, exoticized and surveilled. They enjoyed certain celebrity in their local milieu but also endured differing degrees of bigotry, segregation and racial violence.

Bowen’s aim is to posit a powerful counterpoint to common narratives that oversimplify historical narratives of Canada’s complex and vibrant Black presence. She reminds us that even seemingly insignificant documents can be rich repositories for unintended readings, and for questioning who has been charged with writing our histories and why.

On Trial The Long Doorway was commissioned and produced through a partnership between the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver and Mercer Union, a centre for contemporary art, Toronto. Production support was provided though a Media Arts residency at the Western Front, Vancouver.

More information about the exhibition here.
Book a free virtual tour of the exhibition here.


Visual Arts at Banff Centre offers exceptional programs for professional artists, curators, art critics, and researchers, as well as practicum opportunities for emerging practitioners. Visual Arts also supports, develops, and presents contemporary art through the Walter Phillips Gallery.

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For more information, contact:
Office of the Registrar
Phone: 403.762.6100