Every time I think about artists and what drives people to connect with visual culture, I think about one of my favorite artist statements, “Years ago, I had the idea to sit and think up many new ideas. Nowadays a myriad of ideas just rattle around inside my brain like seeds. Because of this, I have a distinct maraca-like sound to my walk... well not due to the ideas rattling around, just because I got the idea to carry maracas with me everywhere” (Steven Twigg, 2014). I love the idea of making new ideas. I also believe that this is one of the reasons people are drawn to visual culture because it creates new ideas or ways of looking at images, beliefs and issues. Artist-run centers have always supported art that is experimental and creates new ways of viewing the world around us. This is merely one of the many reasons I am proud to be a part of Hamilton Artists Inc.

Hi, everyone my name is Natalie Bilal and I will be the co-op student at the Inc. until January 2015. I am so excited to have this opportunity and get to experience the Inc. I am also an art/social science student at Sir John A Macdonald. When I first arrived at Hamilton Artists Inc. for my interview I was drawn into this new, for myself at least, type of art and environment. The show that was on when I arrived was Butterflies: Species at risk at the Edge of Reason by Robyn Moody. When I first walked in, my initial reacting was I hope I don’t bomb this interview, then I saw the books and the way they were moving. My mind was then totally engulfed in why the books were moving that way and what it was supposed to mean. I did not realize it then but I was being taken in by this contemporary art. Now I realize that it is important to use different media to express views on issues or beliefs that need to have attention brought upon them. That is what art’s all about, is it not? Trying to create something that is important to yourself and that connects or invokes a response in the viewer.

As an art student myself, my teachers tell me to try new media and experiment. When I first was asked to do this I was very taken aback by all the different media. I was so used to my pencil and paper approach to art that anything different seemed weird or alien like. Then I started to experience clay which led me to building and sculpting objects. I then did animation which took me from drawing what I saw or liked to making images move and tell a story. The newest media that I have used is paint, to be exact, acrylic paint. I never thought I would paint—aside from finger painting in kindergarten. But once I started I loved it more than my pencil and paper. Long story short is that experimenting and pushing “the limits” or “your limits” is necessary in order to grow. Artists in Canada have done that on an individual scale as well as on a cultural scale, and Artist-run centers have been at the center of it all.

When I learned that I had gotten the placement at the Inc. I was very pleased, excited, nervous etc. All natural reactions I believe. But when I got here for my first day, which just happened to be for Supercrawl, I realized that I was going to be a part of something special. I learned that artist-run centers are unique because of the fact that artists run the gallery. That might sound simple, because it is the simplest explanation, but artist-run centers have a rich and interesting history. This is why I feel compelled to talk about the importance of artist-run centers. Not only do we care about art ourselves, we care about our community and showing art that is contemporary and experimental. This has led to a rise in artist-run culture in Canada, which affects not only the people viewing art, but the country as a whole. The artists themselves confer on what objectives/goals they want to meet. That is what makes artist-run centres so amazing; they have artists making decisions regarding art, networking, the galleries etc. There is no better way to run anything then to have the experts making the decisions.


Natalie Bilal