Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it to my scheduled event this week. Obviously I’m bummed but that’s the way she goes. I still needed to post this week so I started brainstorming what to write about. Then I thought “Well hey! Some folks reading this probably don’t even know what this is all about!” So, I thought I’d use this space to do a quick run-down of how our little team came to be.
Here are the basics:
- We are three students (Sheridan, Carmen, and John) enrolled in CMNS 3700: Cultural Mapping at TRU.
- We are led by Dr. Kathleen Scherf and aided by Emily of the Kamloops Art Gallery, and Robbi from Open Learning.
- It was identified that KAG is missing a valuable connection with TRU.
- Our goal is to use our individual skills to illuminate the strengths of the gallery, and bring them to the attention of students.
Back in January (it already seems so long ago) I signed up for a random communications class to fulfill some upper level requirements. I sat in the classroom by myself for awhile thinking I had got the wrong room. Not too long later Kathleen and Robbi showed up, confirming that I was in fact in the right place. I was happy but at the same time I was thinking “Great this class is going to get cancelled because I’m the only one in it.” Thankfully, Carmen also showed up and we spent that first day chatting with Kathleen about what Cultural Mapping exactly is. How I understand it now is that Cultural Mapping involves the exploration of a space through lived histories and experiences.
The concept of the class was fascinating, but I won’t lie I thought about dropping out of the course at first. I knew nothing about art, let alone the gallery here in town. All of what Kathleen discussed us eventually doing just seemed so out of reach for me. I didn’t think I possessed the skills to do the project justice. However, it ended up being a good thing that it was just Carmen and I that day because I could not (in good conscience) have left her by herself. The course likely would have been cancelled and we’d both be looking for a replacement. I decided to stick with it despite my fears.
By the next class we were at KAG for the first time, and we got to meet Emily! I don’t think there could have been a better spokesperson to lead us that day. That day we also all met John, our third member who had been away sick the previous week. We all got an extensive tour of the Kamloops Art Gallery and its’ inner workings. As someone foreign to the world of art it was a really special experience. We don’t often get opportunities to go deep into the unfamiliar, we usually only see glances. It felt like peeking into a private world we were never meant to see (in a good Narnia type way). At the end of the tour we sat down in the studio space to discuss exactly where it was we wanted to concentrate our efforts.
Originally, when Kathleen had designed the course she did so with a slightly larger group in mind. With more bodies more ground can be covered, but with only three of us we had to narrow it down. We chatted with Emily about what she wanted from us, and what we were able to do. Ideas were bouncing around the room from interviewing “unintended audiences”, to staging our own full-scale event. Thankfully, we all have loud enough voices that everyone was able to chime in. Recognizing that we all had separate talents and skills was a big part of pulling it all together. Ultimately, the three of us knew that while we would have all this expert help, the finished product would come from us.
It took more than that day, but eventually we had to force ourselves into a conclusion. What could we realistically do in one semester? How are we helping KAG? What the heck is cultural mapping?!? Finally, we decided our best course of action would be to target the group we all know best: students. So to accomplish that we have: John scheduled to produce a promotional video, Carmen physically mapping and documenting the building, and myself (Sheridan) doing a little social media and of course writing these posts.
I may have been skeptical of this whole undertaking at first, but now I’m so glad I stayed. Not only am I probably in the coolest class at TRU right now, but I get to hang out with this great group of people every week. Our mentor team has taught us so much already and I’m sure there’s more to come. I’m getting to connect with a wider Kamloops community through KAG’s Instagram, and I just love it. In the grand scheme of things this endeavor might not end up amounting to much. I can only speak for myself, but I think the rest of #TRUmeetsKAG would agree, the journey is worth it anyways.