“Rooted” is all about the people and places that make us proud to call our community home.
Dermot Wilson has had a lifelong passion for promoting and creating art.
“I have degrees in cultural studies and media arts and creative writing. That’s how it all started for me as well as publishing some of my writing,” he says.
“Recently I have been travelling my work out to different places in Europe. I have three pieces in a show that’s currently playing over there. I’m hoping to show my art in Brazil next year. I make these big drawings and accompany them with video, so it's performance art with visual art.”
Wilson was previously the longest-serving Director of the WKP Kennedy Gallery handling that role for a decade, “Which is the longest time anyone has ever run that gallery,” he says.
Wilson is now overseeing the day to day operations of the Nipissing Regional Curatorial Collective
“We’re really trying to bring together all these new communities,” says Wilson.
“We started in 2014 as a small collective of artists and we put artwork out in the community and set up some installations. Then we did a conference that really brought us together and that conference was about art that was out in the public. Not public art per se, but something that you would put up for a little while, usually outdoors. So we were looking at how you could do more projects outside of the gallery.”
Wilson says this is looking at art in a different direction than how it was perceived in his previous position.
“It’s different from my role at the WKP Kennedy Gallery. I was in a role where I was dealing with and entertaining the older North Bay community. Here, we really work with the multicultural centre and you get a lot of excitement from a diverse range of groups when we put on our events,” says Wilson.
“We’re really focusing on food too; everybody that comes in wants to share some of their cultures and a big part of our culture is our food. So, we do food festivals as well which is a change for me, but it certainly brings out a different audience.”
Located at the co-working space on Lakeshore Drive, Wilson says it is a space that has been welcomed by the community.
“The owners of this building (The Fortin family) are our angels, and we couldn’t be doing any of this without them,” says Wilson.
“It’s interesting because the West Ferris area has totally embraced everything that we are doing, and they are really becoming proud of what they think of as 'their' gallery. We’re getting walk-ins all the time looking at the current show which is incredible. It’s seven indigenous artists featuring different works and we’ve had tons of amazing comments and feedback.”
Since 2014, Wilson says NRCC has greatly expanded its reach and focused on its identity.
“We’re really proud of the fact that we are a bilingual arts organization,” says Wilson.
“We started to build a network of artists through a show that we did after a conference in 2014, and then we started to get grants for some of the things that we were doing.”
Wilson says what they noticed was that they were catering themselves to a younger and more diverse audience.
“Many of these artists are underserved within the diverse communities that exist here and we were seeing that people in other communities were open to seeing our projects in their communities. So we are very active in Timmins, Kirkland Lake, Haileybury, Sturgeon Falls and some of our board members are down in South River as well.”
As the Executive Director, Wilson is now a paid employee, along with Artistic Director Justine Gogoua, who is a singer and musician from the Ivory Coast
“We have also hired a few amazing, young artists for the summer,” says Wilson.
The big project they are working on is called Fusion Fest and Wilson says, “The whole world is coming to North Bay through the NRCC. It’s a really interesting and unique festival.”
“We are adapting to the Covid-19 restrictions and putting together a show. In July we are inviting all the participating artists to come and meet each other and we will do some impromptu performing, and share stories and discussions. There will be lots of artists with roots in their arts from around the world including from Africa, lots of South American musicians, and two of the top Indigenous performers in the country will be here as well.”
Wilson says after that meeting there will be a two-month collaboration between two artists.
“We will then pair the performers up with each other and it will be two performers who have never met before, who have never jammed or anything like that. So they will meet for the first time and they will collaborate on something for the next two months. On September 17th they will come back to North Bay and rehearse that in person. Then on the 18th, all of these brand new songs and stories, and dances will be performed for the public at different venues around North Bay. There will be six outdoor venues downtown and here at our headquarters at the co-working space at 176 Lakeshore Drive.”
Wilson says more details will become available soon and he’s looking forward to hosting this event and getting North Bay involved in a festival that showcases art from around the globe.
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