We sat down with the team behind the Chu Niikwän Artist Residency to learn more about this new addition to Yukon artist opportunities.


How did this residency come to be?

The idea of this residency emerged out of a session that YAC held at the Old Fire Hall last fall with various Yukon artists. The participants requested more opportunities to collaborate and to increase the visibility and value placed on non-commercial visual arts. Bringing together the Yukon Arts Centre, Yukon Art Society and Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre to administer this project helped to broaden the audience and introduces a level of complexity, considering the different mandates of each organization.

This residency is very thematic around the Yukon River, can you talk more about that?

Working collaboratively is a major aspect of this residency. When we considered locations where the partnering organizations could host the residencies, the river was the obvious connection. Having each of the residencies within walking distance of one another creates more opportunities to speak, share and collaborate.

Is this the first curatorial residency in the Yukon?

It’s not the first. The Yukon Art Society hosted a curatorial residency in 2013. But creating opportunities for emerging curators in the Yukon is something we should be paying attention to and offering. 

Why do you think it’s important to offer curatorial residencies as well as artistic residencies?

We need more curators in the Yukon and the North in general! Curation is a communication tool, an avenue of sharing, a way to support artists and to connect work within an art history framework. Curators are able to share a perspective, be an activist, imbue meaning and talk to a community. It was essential to include a role for an emerging curator within the Chu Niikwän residency program because it’s important for Yukoners to develop these skills and feel confident stepping into leadership roles. There are more opportunities to curate in the Yukon than people might think.

This is a paid residency! Can you expand on why that was an important aspect for the organizers?

It was very important to us to be able to offer the time and space for artist to take creative risks without having to consider financial penalties. Many professional and emerging artists work with the constant pressure to develop work for market and this residency was created in hope that artists would feel they had the time and resources to explore new techniques and expand their practice.

Anything else?