Hamilton Artists Inc. and Factory Media Centre are pleased to announce the recipients of our 2022 Micro Grants! The Micro Grants contribute funds to support various creative projects from artists working in any medium, and include six $500 cash grants and two media equipment rental grants. Congratulations Olivia Brouwer, Cait Gautron, Taras Hemon, Clairandean Humphrey, K. MacNeil, Ignazio Colt Nicastro, Steven Schmid and Abigail Whitney! Find out more about each artist and their works below.

Olivia Brouwer is a partially blind, emerging artist based in Cambridge, Ontario. In 2016, she graduated from the Art and Art History joint program, specializing in painting and printmaking, at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College. She has exhibited at the Blackwood Gallery, the Robert Kananaj Gallery in collaboration with Emerging Young Artists, and the Idea Exchange. In 2021, Brouwer was the recipient of the City of Hamilton Creator Award, the Salt Spring National Art Prize, and a finalist for the JRG Emerging Artist Award.

Brouwer’s current work addresses inclusivity and accessibility to non-visual audiences by activating the senses of touch and hearing. Soft-Spoken is a painting series of Braille-translated interviews from seven visually impaired folks describing their perception of the world through the lens of their unique experience with blindness in hopes of bringing awareness to the accessibility needs of this community.

 A close up of the touch board computer connected to a speaker and the conductive paint, indicating a spot to touch to activate the audio recording of the interview painted in Braille.Oliva Brouwer, Soft Spoken (an interview with Tim Peters), 2021. Acrylic on canvas, a touch board, speaker, and conductive paint. Image courtesy of the artist.

Cait Gautron, a Military Brat, was deeply influenced by the time she spent in European galleries  as a child. Before receiving her BFA from McMaster, Cait studied performing arts, a discipline  which developed and heightened her interest in physicality and theatrics. Her work explores the intersections of physiology and psychology, where the lines exist between our perceptions of the  body and its base existence. In referencing therapeutic practices and anatomical specimens she  creates a framework with which to marry artistic and scientific approaches to the body,  cultivating a clinical/non-judgmental remove while underlining the bodies intrinsic beauty.

A hyper-realistic sculpture of a human head including neck and shoulders. The subject is a caucasian person with black hair. Half of the head is shaved and covered in black marks that criss-cross around the head, neck and shoulders. The subject’s eyes are closed and their cheek appears to be wet as if the subject had been crying. There is also evidence of body modification, including what appears to be a horn implant and a stretched earlobe piercing with no plug. The base of the sculpture looks like a fleshy mound that wraps around the shoulders and spreads onto the floor like melted candle wax.Cait Gautron, Antithesis A (work in progress), 2020. Silicone, polyurethane foam, oil paint, human and animal hair. Image courtesy of the artist.

Taras Hemon (he/him) is a Hamilton based filmmaker and artist, working primarily with documentary film. His work is centered on supporting human rights struggles, focusing on how we can affect change and resist capitalist hegemony. He recently completed his MFA degree in Documentary Studies at X University, where as a part of his thesis he made a short documentary film, “Thanks for Nothing.” This film follows tenant Sharon Miller as she fights back against transit-based gentrification, housing inaccessibility and a city that sees her as disposable. Hemon plans on expanding this film into a longer project and should begin filming in April. He is developing a documentary series called “Steel City Climate Change,” where he explore causes, effects of and solutions to climate change on an extremely local, Hamilton based level.

A woman walks down the street. The back of her denim jacket reads “Thanks For Nothing” in white letters. She has light hair and is wearing it pulled through the back of her baseball cap. She is wearing patterned leggings and is pushing a mobility aid. There is a fountain to her right and tall, shiny buildings ahead of her.Taras Hemon, Thanks for Nothing, 2021. Film still. Image courtesy of the artist.

Clairandean Humphrey is Black Trans Non-Binary Artist, Tarot Reader, Movement Instructor and Videographer based in Hamilton, ON. They have finished GOODBODYFEEL 200hrTT in 2018 and remain an instructor at the studio. They completed their Certificate with New Leaf Foundation, with the Reaching In, Reaching out program. Deepening their education in trauma informed movement practices, gender inclusive language and anti-oppressive frameworks. 

They are also currently finishing Diane Bondy’s 300hrYTT program deepening their education in Decolonized Yoga and Justice Work. Clairandean continues to collaborate with both established and emerging creatives around the City of Hamilton. 

In 2020 they independently released a lofi EP entitled Moving In the Dark. This EP features an acoustic guitar, ethereal harmonies that express grief and longing. They consider singing and songwriting their most vulnerable practice. 

Their various practices continue to examine and discover the visual/audio language of Queerness, chronic pain, isolation, intimacy and togetherness.

A person kneeling on a bed with their hands held up in front of them. They seem to be watching their hands move, head tilted in gentle concentration. The person has brown skin and very short, dark hair cropped close to their scalp. They are wearing a blue and white tie-dyed blouse, dark pants, and dark nail polish on their fingers. The blankets on the bed and the walls around them glow soft yellow as if basked in golden sunlight.Clairandean Humphrey, Queer Intamacy Moving, 2021. Film still. Image courtesy of the artist.

K. MacNeil (they/them) is a genderqueer artist, educator and curator who was born and raised in the US. They maintain an interdisciplinary practice that encompasses printmaking, video, performance, and drawing. 

MacNeil’s work has exhibited internationally in Paris, France; Beijing, China; Canada, and throughout numerous institutions across the US including the International Print Center New York, the Western New York Book Arts Center, and CEPA Gallery. They were recently awarded an Ontario Arts Council Visual Artists Creation Project grant, awarded the Awagami Paper Award by the Print Center in Philadelphia, and are currently the Hexagon Mid Career Artist in Residence at Open Studio in Toronto. 

MacNeil holds an MFA in Studio Art from the University at Buffalo and a BA in Studio Art from the College of Charleston. They currently serve on the executive board of SGCInternational, work as the College Printer at Massey College, and reside in Toronto, ON.

An outstretched hand with palm facing upward. Black paint covers the hand, beginning at the fingertips and moving down the wrist. Patches of caucation skin can be seen on the palm, in between the fingers, and part of the wrist.K. MacNeil, Vicious Cycle, 2018. Performance documentation. Image:  Julia Rose Sutherland.

Ignazio Colt Nicastro is a contemporary fine art curator and writer with over four years of professional experience curating digital and physical exhibitions. More recently, Nicastro founded IC Contemporary, an online digital art gallery dedicated to serving emerging artists, and has also published his debut novel: The Trials of Salahan.

Four pieces of fabric hang on a white brick wall. The first piece is cream and has tassels that reach down to the wood floor. Near the top of the fabric is brown coily hair, enough to look like the back of a person’s head. The second piece of fabric is black, long and narrow and stretches down the wall and across the wooden floor. Along the length of the fabric is a dark brown braid of hair. The third piece of fabric is cream and shorter than the first two. Attached to the top of it is dark red hair that looks to be artificially dyed. The hair is long and parts of it extend beyond the length of the fabric. The fourth piece of fabric is cream. It is the smallest of the group, and has tassels on either end. Woven in gold thread is a circular shape with a stem coming off the bottom of it, almost in the shape of a frying pan.From left to right: Eva Birhanu, hair heaving (2), 2019. Cotton, linen, hemp yarn, and synthetic hair; Eva Birhanu, disentangle, 2020. Cotton and hair; Eva Birhanu, hair weaving (1), 2019. Cotton, linen, hemp yarn, and synthetic hair; Eva Birhanu, Wisdom is worth more than gold, 2022. Cotton and metallic gold thread. Intricacies of the Gaze, curated by Ignazio Colt Nicastro. Installation view at The Riverdale Gallery, February - April, 2022. Image by Nicole Helena.

Steven Schmid is a Bahamian interdisciplinary artist whose practice utilizes drawing, painting and collage to explore themes of nostalgia, masculinity and otherness. Using the figure as a central point of exploration, Schmid reimagines personal narratives to create unique stories that illustrate the intricacies and malleability of the Bahamian and wider Caribbean diaspora. Schmid received his BFA in Film, Video and Integrated Media from Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2016 and is currently pursuing an Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design at OCAD University.

A collaged image of a person from the torso up to the head. Each feature is a separately collaged piece, distorting the sizes and positions of the person’s features. Some features, such as one of the eyes and also the hand, are drawn rather than photographed. Surrounding the person are images, clip art, and paintings of various flowers. A drawing of a bird sits on the person’s shoulder. Lively marks and scribbles are incorporated in the piece. The work is vibrant, colourful and chaotic while still being able to communicate the idea of a portrait.Steven Schmid, Off Guard, 2022. Digital assemblage, colouring pencils, crayola markers on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

Abigail Whitney (she/her) is an award-winning theatre director, an internationally awarded filmmaker, producer and writer. Abigail is listed as “100 Black Artists to support this Juneteenth” by New York’s Gritty Vibes Magazine. Abigail is on the cover of Ark Magazine's 002 "The Reset" Issue, with a full spread interview as a 'Game Changer,'  an "innovative and fearless force, changing the arts as we know it." University of Toronto’s The Varsity newspaper published a personal essay about her acclaimed career and interviewed her on the front-page of The Varsity's paper in a 2nd article titled: "UofT student, model, and director-how does Abigail Whitney do it all?" She is named a “quadruple threat” by UofT News “UofT students who crushed it.” She has been interviewed and featured on CBC’s q, ByBlacks, CBC’s OurToronto, Eboss Canada and Broadway World for her work.

A photograph of the head and shoulders of a young person with long brown curly hair tied back into a low ponytail. They are wearing something with red straps, as well as a red and light pink scarf in their hair. They are smiling brightly. The background is a grey wall. Above the person’s head is the title of the film, “Seule”, and a description that reads, “a short film by Abigail Whitney”. On either side of the person is an award stamp. One reads “Austin Micro Film Festival, Best Experimental Film Award Winner, Fall 2021” and has a rainbow video camera icon. The other reads “Winner, Best Amateur, July 2021, Short to the Point”.Abigail Whitney, Seule, 2021. Poster. Image courtesy of the artist.