Sidebar: How We Got Here


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.

Review: Art Duel


T’was a night like any other in Kamloops, B.C. Stores were closing, classes ending, and some were settling in for the night. However, that was not in fact the case for those making their way over to the Kamloops Art Gallery. When we arrived, it seemed from outside just like any other night. The classical music hung in the air beckoning us inside. The glass doors could not tell what they held inside. What we happened upon was a battle of epic proportions!

Okay dramatic introduction aside, the Art Duel was by no means what I expected. We entered the studio space to find the type of atmosphere you would only find at an art gallery. Our greeters were wildly costumed and bouncing in their seats! Truthfully, I don’t know if the jitters were from sheer anticipation or the array of sugary treats provided, either way I was excited. Looking around the room, I knew we were in for a good night. From the balloon streamers to the crazy song covers playing the studio seemed reborn. I knew it was the same space we had sat in the previous week for Kitchen Conversations, yet somehow the energy had transformed it.
Anxiously awaiting the beginning of the dueling, we snacked on pizza and drinks. As time went on it seemed a steady stream of newcomers entered and chairs were systematically added to accommodate them. Despite the wait, we all remained in good spirits, chatting among ourselves, and mentally preparing for what we were about to witness.
When the time finally came the studio space was beyond filled. From the costumed to the post-work attired, we were ready to get down to business! It was set up tournament style. Participants went randomly head to head hoping to move on to the next round. By the first strokes of chalk we were hooked! Each pair was given two random words with which they needed to draw (blindfolded!), one becoming the other. I applaud whoever came up with this theme as it fits perfectly with the current exhibit Becoming Animal/Becoming Landscape. The exhibit explores the concepts of transformation and change. Once again it goes to show how KAG is reaching its audiences in creative ways.
In terms of jeering and heckling we weren’t exactly the best peanut gallery. We waited silently while contestants drew their creations right on the wall. Yes, the wall. After each round, we cheered on those brave enough to show their stuff. Time moved faster than expected and in a flurry of chalk dust, respectful cheers, and popcorn it was down to the last stand.

Our final two had really put up a fight to get to the end. The purpose of the duel was really just to be silly and have a good time. However, these two had managed to put up some really awesome work! It was thoughtful and surprisingly well drawn! By this point in the night the judges had abandoned the 1-10 rating scale and were well into triple digits. Was it the pure talent of the artists, or maybe a little too much to drink from Red Collar? It remains a mystery. So, it all came down to the hosts tallying scores totaling somewhere in the 700s. By some arbitrary amount a contestant calling herself “Petal to the Metal” was declared the winner!

And just like that the night was brought to a halt. We couldn’t believe over three hours had gone by. I really must commend KAG for knowing their audience and knowing how to entertain them. I was never once bored or hungry all night. I know this is where I’m supposed to provide my critique and say what needs to be fixed, but the saying holds true here: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Art Duel is by far a Kamloops hidden gem, my only concern is how and why more citizens don’t know about this? Get on it travel blogs, Kamloops Tourism! Let’s get Art Duel on the map!