Art has the power
to transform the world
when it bids us to laugh or cry,
to smile or to cringe.
When we experience art,
we can just be.
– Sharon Stevens
Sharon Stevens, an multi award-winning media artist and activist, is an instigator who’s made a career of integrating art, activism, feminism, and social justice into a series of projects that enlighten, enliven and entertain.
Stevens’ work demonstrates an unwavering belief in public, participatory art, and takes a beacon-like approach to leading Calgarians into artistic adventures in collaborative and meaningful art making.
Her projects in art and social engagement have had the intent to situate works within communities and actively engage participation, predominately through new media. She has produced a body of video work ranging from documentaries, to feminist narratives to animation. Building on these previous projects, she has evolved and responded to different technologies within her media art practice. With 30+ years as a practicing artist, Sharon has been involved with many of the city’s arts institutions and has served on boards, juries, committees and staffs.
Watch a five minute biography of video projects from 1991 to 2016.
The very act of going to gallery openings and visiting artist-run centres is essential. It is not just for free food but it’s an act of solidarity and a way to inform your work as an artist while connecting with your peers.
– Sharon Stevens
We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass’ It’s always about critical connections.
– Grace Lee Boggs, b. 1915 – 2015 anti-racist activist, author
in Calgary’s Historic Union Cemetery
Sharon Stevens Founder/Curator
(2012 – ongoing)
Held on the Autumn Equinox in Calgary’s centrally located historic cemetery. Along with the inclusion of works by professional artists, contributions by musicians, poets, and historians add to the creation of a personal and artistic experience for the viewers. Equinox Vigil is free, non-religious, and welcomes all members of Calgary’s culturally diverse community, regardless of whether they have loved ones interred at Union Cemetery.
Equinox Vigil has become a welcomed tradition in Calgary where the public is introduced to artistic, creative and meaningful ways to remember our dead. I bring communities together in a unique way to honour, respect, care and be empathetic for feelings around loss, death, remembering and longing.
A media art project conceived by Sharon Stevens in 2012 and with software programmed by designer Shiori Saito.
(2012 – ongoing)
The Digital Shrine creates a poignant interactive artwork where people can honour the memory of their ancestors and departed loved ones. The mobile installation consists of a specially designed shrine where the public may write tributes and messages with pen and paper – words they wish they’d said, heartfelt thoughts they carry with them, or simply the names of the dead. The tributes are entered into a software program on a laptop and this text is projected onto a screen, scrolls slowly and is visible to the public. The words light up the night sky like credits at the end of a film only and people wait to watch them scroll by.
We are inspired by each other’s words, and sharing our thoughts amplifies the presence of the dead in our thoughts and hearts.
OX: A Crash Course on Loving Calgary was a positive, participatory mapping project to claim what we love about Calgary! A place, a feeling, a song, a building, a street corner, a memory, a recovery –stories about loving Calgary. OX: A Crash Course on Loving Calgary has been exhibited at The Truck Contemporary Art Gallery, EMMEDIA Production and Gallery Society and was part of the Calgary 2012 Artist in Residency with the International Avenue BRZ.
Watch a short how to video here.
An impromptu performance resulting in a 2:30 video. The video represents a symbolic funeral pyre for a bruised and battered papier-mache globe that had accompanied activist events facilitated by the Arusha Centre. In the video, a haz-mat- suited individual emerges for this globe, coats the globe in black tar-like substance before setting it ablaze. Darkly over-toned, the piece reads like a challenge against a dystopian future. 2:30 video, colour, soundtrack by Dark Lily
Several public performances developed and conducted as a tool of engagement with Colleen Huston, Jodie Stevens and Melissa Centofanti. We explored society’s willingness to share how people self-identify. ID Collective designed an ‘exhibit’ data collection tool and we asked people at community events, social gatherings and within virtual environments “How do you self-identify? Finding common ground by pushing the social norms at community gatherings the Collective used this model for various projects over three years.
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