Ex­pe­ri­ence the art of Bri­tish Columbia in one of Canada’s most trea­sured wilder­ness des­ti­na­tions.

The Georgia Straight - - FALL ARTS PREVIEW > WHO TO WATCH -

“I don’t think my per­son­al­ity is suited to teach­ing,” she says. “I’m very shy.”

Para­dox­i­cally, Vick­ers has emerged in re­cent years as an orig­i­nal and con­fi­dent per­for­mance artist. She cred­its her friend and col­league, Brook­lyn­based artist Maria Hup­field, with help­ing her over­come her hes­i­tancy to per­form in pub­lic. Since 2007, Vick­ers and mul­ti­me­dia artist Neil Eus­tache had been de­vel­op­ing their “bench­ing” project, cre­at­ing a so­cial gath­er­ing spot on a bench at the cor­ner of Main Street and 13th Av­enue. Hup­field sug­gested col­lab­o­rat­ing with Vick­ers on the pro­duc­tion of some al­tered found ob­jects, which Vick­ers could then dis­play and “demon­strate” while bench­ing.

At Hup­field’s urg­ing, the dis­play and demon­stra­tion evolved into a per­for­mance that the two took to Santa Fe, New Mex­ico—and many places be­yond. Wil­lard re­it­er­ated the piece solo at 2015’s LIVE per­for­mance fes­ti­val in Van­cou­ver. “I had a bench and a sales ta­ble and I sold col­lab­o­ra­tive work that I’d made with Maria and other friends…i did that for five days.” The ob­jects were in­ten­tion­ally priced low and sold rapidly. “I was re­ally ex­cited by that, try­ing to cre­ate a sense of ex­change be­tween peo­ple,” she says. The per­for­mance ac­cords with her in­ter­est in re­la­tional aes­thet­ics, which sparks art off hu­man and so­cial re­la­tions.

Born in Kenora, On­tario, and raised in Toronto, Vick­ers ar­rived in Van­cou­ver in 1990 to study paint­ing at Emily Carr In­sti­tute (now Univer­sity) of Art and De­sign. Af­ter com­plet­ing the four-year pro­gram, she went on to earn a B.A. in art and cul­ture stud­ies at SFU, and she has been mak­ing and ex­hibit­ing art, lo­cally and na­tion­ally, ever since. Re­cently, she has also been play­ing a syn­the­sizer pad with the band As­ser­tion, cre­at­ing tex­ture and, to her sur­prise, singing. “I’m slowly learn­ing how to be­come melodic,” she says with a laugh. And she has con­tin­ued to paint, cre­at­ing ab­strac­tions that riff on Anishi­naabe quill­work.

Among other projects, she has been pro­duc­ing a series of felt ovoids, based on the graphic de­sign form found in North­west Coast First Na­tions art. “They aren’t nec­es­sar­ily po­lit­i­cal,” she says of her ovoids. “They’re more about me—about be­ing Ojibwa and liv­ing on the West Coast for 25 years and cre­at­ing this rec­og­niz­able, hege­monic shape of cul­tural cap­i­tal­ism.” More con­cert­edly crit­i­cal are a series of fringed and beaded moc­casins Vick­ers made out of denim, card­board beer cases, and other found ma­te­ri­als. Re­cently ex­hib­ited at Gallery 1515, they com­ment on the man­u­fac­ture and mar­ket­ing of “In­dian” sou­venirs for tourists. They also re­late to en­coun­ters with “ig­no­rance, stereo­types, and racism” Vick­ers had while work­ing in a Na­tive art store in Gas­town.

Cur­rently, she and Van­cou­ver artist Cathy Busby are col­lab­o­rat­ing on a large mixed-me­dia in­stal­la­tion for Ground Sig­nals, a group show at the Sur­rey Art Gallery that rein­ter­prets ideas of land and land­scape. For the open­ing on Septem­ber 23, Vick­ers and Busby are cre­at­ing a per­for­mance, a video of which will be in­cor­po­rated into their in­stal­la­tion. As for her shy­ness, she says, “When you’re the per­former, you have the power and the pres­ence to ne­go­ti­ate things—ne­go­ti­ate re­la­tion­ships in the mo­ment rather than be watched.”


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