Portrait of Caitlind r.c. Brown. Photo Credit: Diane + Mike Photography.
Caitlind r.c. Brown graduated from ACAD in 2010 with a major in drawing. Brown values working on projects with a collaborative spirit, and envisions and enacts projects that reflexively and responsively address community and the environment. Towards this end, she seeks out tackling creative endeavors within collaborative partnerships. Brown’s most frequent collaborator, or partner in “art crimes,” is artist and musician Wayne Garrett. He graduated from Mount Royal University in 2012 with a degree in Jazz Performance, and also received his Red Seal in Machining in 2009. Garrett’s unique accolades have played an integral role in intertwining mechanical and musical expertise into the duo’s collaborative works.
WRECK CITY Sign, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett. Sign for WRECK CITY created from domestic debris.
According to Brown, an important facet of an ACAD education is that it provides a supportive opportunity for students to hone the myriad hard and soft skills necessary in creating art. She sees the timeline from her years at ACAD to the present day as a trajectory that has allowed her to focus on, expand on and celebrate a changing roster of ideas. An important takeaway from her visual arts education is the new ways it has encouraged her to think. This ability — knowing how to think — is something that Brown stresses as fundamental in any sort of art or creative practice. It is important to have the tools that emboldens one’s thinking to grow into problem-solving, which can ultimately stretch into “creative innovating.”
Using this jumping-off point —creatively innovating or innovatively creating — has encouraged Brown to explore many avenues of what she calls artistic “sustainability.” One of Brown and Garrett’s most successful and well-known projects that builds on this idea is CLOUD. Brown describes CLOUD as a project that quickly became a full-time job, taking her and Garrett around the world. The artists had opportunities to share their Calgary-conceived work at international art events, such as at the Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, Russia (2013) and the iLight Festival at Marina Bay in Singapore (in 2014, and coincidentally the hometown of interviewer Mabel Tan). To Brown, CLOUD is a work that articulates her focus of repurposing used, found, or pre-owned objects. In this case, these objects were incandescent lightbulbs used by Canadian people that she and Garrett harmoniously layered, tying them together into one interactive, cloud-like sculptural experience.
CLOUD by Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett. Participatory installation for Nuit Blanche Calgary. Photo credit: Mitch Kern.
Brown engages this thread of “sustainability” throughout her practice. When engaging with sustainability, practicality and functionality have always been priorities on Brown’s list. This includes seeking funding, and finding different means to sustain her practice. She eventually married both definitions of “sustainability” into one creative ideal: on one hand, using it as a term that represents the ways and methods of supporting any creative practice, and on the other upholding environmental sustainability in terms of artistic materials and resources.
When asked what advice Brown would have for current or prospective ACAD students, she offered that one should look critically at the criteria that the art world uses to measure an artist’s success. Personally, Brown feels that an artist’s success is too often determined through tangible and result-oriented means. She notes that “success [seems to be] always valued measurably,” but thinks that art should not be judged on whether is it economical driven or personally driven, “because at the end of the day, all art practice is a practice, and will continue to be so, until we give up. Although, hopefully, people don’t [give up]...”
This conversation I had with Brown gave me new eyes about the industriousness necessary in any art practice. “To keep going to keep going” is my attempt to illustrate what she said so beautifully about art being a continuous process and practice.
WITHOUT EYES by Caitlind r.c. Brown, Lane Shordee, & Nikki Martens. Group reading performance in the round for a blindfolded audience at M:ST Performative Arts Festival. Photo credit: Diane + Mike Photography
Brown shared the importance of relationships as being vital to any artist’s practice, and more generally to the way we exist in the world. She believes that all relationships a student will form at ACAD — whether it be with peers, teachers, administration or the larger community outside of school and art —become points of connection and opportunity for one’s practice. This support network also has the ability to spill into other endeavours
Analogously, relationships should also be built between the objects and the materials an artist uses in their work. This is especially poignant for Brown’s practice, as she strongly and actively engages all her material to its roots. She also reminds other artists not to forget that “forming a relationship with oneself is equally as importantly, too.” This insight celebrates the nature of her work, as in order to be “sustainable” or sustain, we require a network of relationships within our community to keep us going.
Installing Whispers in the Tall Grass, an outdoor audio artwork created by Caitlind r.c. Brown with Antyx Youth in Forest Lawn. Listen here.
When asked about obstacles that Brown faces in her practice, she mentions the planning necessary to execute projects, especially the often large-scale projects that Brown has worked on. She points out the layers of planning that completing such a work entails: you must have a plan for creating the artwork, but also a plan for how you will follow this plan. Be it to “overcome the little moments of disillusionment” to simply understand and follow through with how you will be spending money, Brown relies on meticulous planning to keep things in check. “It definitely does help in keeping you grounded to both the present and the future, and in leaving no regrets in the past.”
Brown’s answer to many of my questions was “community!”. She strongly believes in our inherent need to be and stay connected. With community comes people and relationships that will provide necessary support for the current, past and future community of ACAD. “Creating a network, even like this one [between you and I], clearly invites and celebrates the community that we have at ACAD.” It’s essential support for any artist and helps remind us to continue celebrating art.
DREAMS OF WE WHO WAKE TO SLEEP by Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett. Sign introducing The Hibernation Project, a 12-week domestic intervention.
Brown believes in ACAD’s importance in Calgary’s community, and its development into an increasingly vibrant city. She sees value in what ACAD has already brought to Calgary, and what it will bring in the future; she thinks the possibilities of ACAD's impact as having no limitations; “it is merely [reliant] on what ACAD puts its mind and heart to.”
Caitlind r.c. Brown’s explorations of sustainability directly engage with themes of creativity and innovation; she believes that “creativity absolutely does matter in a larger picture," that continuing to engage in the circle of thinking, re-thinking and thinking about what you are thinking about is basically what creativity is. This plays into her core value of sustainability. Brown believes that art will always be a part of her life, and in sharing and celebrating the deep integration of the values of community, art, creativity, and innovation she will continue to create.
Ampli-fire by Caitlind r.c. Brown, with Infinity Mirror Portals (masks) by Nikki Martens. Fire installation for The Hibernation Project.