Candace HORSBURGH: When did you graduate from the Alberta College of Art + Design?
Candace HOOK: I graduated in 2004. I was a ceramics major; I graduated with a BFA in craft.
HORSBURGH: What is your current employment?
HOOK: I’m executive director at the Centre for Creative Arts in Grande Prairie.
HORSBURGH: A lot of graduates use their ACAD degree as a creative stepping stone. What did you do after graduation?
HOOK: When I graduated ACAD, I hit the ground running and right away started working in Grande Prairie. I moved there and started working at the Centre for Creative Arts as a ceramics instructor, and I also joined the board shortly afterwards. I worked there part time until a full time position became available as executive director.
HORSBURGH: How has what you do evolved since graduation? How has your education directed your career?
HOOK: I think that my education at ACAD was a great springboard; as a ceramics major I came out of school very knowledgeable about the field, so I was able to take on work as a studio technician and as an instructor in such a specialized area, which is really helpful. Also, the connections I made at ACAD were also really important. Halfway through my time at ACAD, I knew I was as passionate about working with artists and working at art centres as I was about making art myself. I started volunteering at different artist-run centres in Calgary. When I moved to Grande Prairie and started working at the Centre for Creative Arts, I already had a lot of those skills.
The Lady of Sycamore (2017) mixed media, from the Centre for Creative Arts 2017 Wearable Arts Show. Photo Credit Sean Trostem.
HORSBURGH: What insights did your four years at ACAD give you when looking at things? Why does your arts education matter?
HOOK: I’m always striving to make my work better. I think that has stuck with me throughout my career. Just knowing that I want to keep pushing, growing and learning, and that if I do that my work will continue to evolve.
HORSBURGH: What would you like to be recognized for?
HOOK: I am really passionate about community involvement and I hope that one day that is the legacy I leave: to have made my community a more artistic and creative place to be. I really think that started with the community at ACAD and the artist-run centres I worked at while I was there.
HORSBURGH: It seems that that arts community has grown quite a bit since you started at the Centre for Creative Arts?
HOOK: Absolutely, there’s a lot happening in northern and central Alberta. The Centre for Creative Arts is a hub for creativity in our region, so I’m really pleased to be working there, and the opportunities it’s created.
Sweet Pea (2012), mixed media, from the Centre for Creative Arts 2012 Wearable Arts Show. Photo Credit Sean Trostem.
HORSBURGH: After graduation, what obstacles did you encounter? How did you overcome them?
HOOK: I had initially thought that coming out as a craft major, especially, that finding studio space would be a big obstacle. We are so lucky as ACAD students to have this amazing studio space with all the facilities and equipment available. So as a graduate, I was worried about where I was going to fire my work. I was pleasantly surprised when I moved to Grande Prairie and they had well equipped studio space.
HORSBURGH: How could you imagine ACAD supporting our alumni?
HOOK: I think alumni spotlights, and alumni newsletter… anything possible to showcase the amazing things that alumni do once they leave ACAD. That could be really inspirational to other alumni and to students.
HORSBURGH: What was your time at ACAD like?
HOOK: It was really challenging. I went in expecting it to be a lot of fun — it absolutely was, but I was surprised at how hard we had to work and how much work we had to do. That instilled in me a great work ethic that will be with me for the rest of my career.
HORSBURGH: What do you feel is the role of ACAD and our alumni in shaping our cultural and economic prosperity?
HOOK: I think that the role of ACAD is to keep turning out great artists and to have the skills to keep learning and growing as artists. They should also be bragging about the school, making sure people know where they got their start, because some of the best artists in Canada come from ACAD.
HORSBURGH: Where does art fit into your future?
HOOK: Art is at the core of my future. I knew I wanted to be an artist before I went to ACAD and being there made me realize how many different opportunities there are for careers in the arts. That will stick with me, always.
Sweet Pea (2016), mixed media, from the Centre for Creative Arts 2016 Wearable Arts Show. Photo Credit Sean Trostem