Lee Oldford Churchill, Canada

Residency Period: Sept 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017


Bio

Born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, Lee began her formal training at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, NL. In 1998 she transferred to the University of Alberta in Edmonton, majoring first in sculpture, then switching to painting and printmaking. At U of A she earned her BFA with Distinction in 2000 and then went on to earn a M.A. (Art Conservation) and M.A. (Art History) from Queen’s University, Kingston, ON in 2000 and 2006 respectively. She currently resides in Calgary, AB, Canada, where she works as the Paper Conservator at the Glenbow Museum and as an instructor at Wildflower Art Centre, City of Calgary. Her current work utilizes watercolour, pastel, acrylic, pen, and other media.


On-hiatus Proposal Summary

Working full time and parenting, Lee has struggled to maintain her “professional artist” status as designated by Canada Council for the Arts and other public institutions, which also qualifies her to apply for funding to sustain an artist career. She feels trapped in the circle of “not enough work=not enough sales and exposure=not enough money=having to be employed=not enough time=not enough work”.

While making art has been part of who she is, the pressure and stress of “being engaged” with her practice has driven her to the point where she feels her whole life may be happier if she just stopped, if she gave up defining herself as an artist-who-does-other-work-to-support-themselves and embraced being solely an arts-industry-employee.

Through her participation in RFAOH, she wants to give herself permission not to produce art, to ultimately examine if letting go of “being an artist” will make her feel less pressure and stress, and return some joy to this aspect of her life. Her requested residency period overlaps with her son’s school year during which time she may participate in some activities without the guilt of her inner voice screaming ‘if I have any time I should be making art’.

Although she is hesitant to set out too detailed a plan for fear of creating a high pressure situation similar to the one that she is in now as an artist, one of her on-hiatus activities may be taking a class in clay. It is an area that has no association to her past art practice, and she wants to see if she can engage meaningfully with the process of creating, or whether it has become so entwined with stress/anxiety that any attempt to create is a trigger for feelings of failure, anxiety and inadequacy about her self-identification as an artist.

She hopes this hiatus would give her time and clarity to make a decision whether defining herself as an artist is worth it, or if not being an artist is better for her mental health, family life, and relationships. If she decides to return to art, she hopes it would bring fresh inspiration and perspective.


Final Report


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recent comments

On Jun 21 2017, Lee Churchill commented on June 20: If I knew where I wasn't supposed to be, I wouldn't go!! :-P If you've got some idea of how I can be[...]

On Jun 21 2017, co-director (s) commented on June 20: Happy (fairly) big Birthday Lee! (: Twack on, all year! I think it's the matter of what is "everyt[...]

On Jun 12 2017, Lee Churchill commented on June 8: :-) It definitely sounds like a fascinating talk. With the idea of going for an MFA, S's situation[...]

On Jun 9 2017, co-director (m) commented on June 8: I wish we had a recording of Tehching's panel discussion in Venice last month where the convergence [...]

On May 25 2017, co-directors (s) commented on May 8: Family emergency sucks... Hope things are alright with yours![...]


June 20

June 20

It’s my birthday!

I’m turning 40 (well, according to my Mom I turned 40 at 5:19 this morning! 😛 )

I’ve been finding this whole year coming up to 40 to be a very reflective experience.

I posted on facebook some time ago about the fact that I’m starting to feel the ‘hump’:

  • I’ve lived out of my parents’ house longer than I lived there.
  • I’ve been in a relationship with Peter half my life.
  • I’ve lived in Alberta 19 years, a year shy of as long as I lived in Newfoundland.
  • I graduated high school 22 years ago. My BFA 17 years ago.
  • I have towels older than my former babysitter and she’s now in University.
  • I’ve been married as long as our current babysitter has been alive.
  • The clothes and music from my childhood and adolescence are now vintage/ classic and coming back into fashion.
  • When my Mom was 40, I was 15, and my brothers were 16 and 18.
  • And so on.

It feels weird.

Time has warped – logically, when I sit down and catalogue events, obviously significant amounts of time have passed, you don’t get degrees, have family, and jobs without time moving forward.

But emotionally the truth is – I don’t feel ‘how did I get this old’ because I don’t feel old. I still feel like a teenager with all the possibilities of the universe spread out in front of me (and sometimes with the same poor judgement of said teenagers.) But I don’t feel ‘adult’ or like life has somehow become a predictable routine. I can’t connect with the idea that, statistically, half my life is behind me (in Canada female life expectancy at birth averages 83 years).

I often wonder if being an ‘adult’, in control and having all your $#!+ together, is some myth that gets heaped on kids. Peter and I are admittedly more prone to inexplicable happenings than many people (maybe we have poor karma?!)

For example:

Peter, as a passenger, has been in 12 major car accidents – as in “car flips over, spins, and is hit by an oncoming vehicle” type accidents. And he’s had two cars totaled – while parked. One was run over by a garbage truck and another had an SUV jump a curb (in a parking lot!) and land on top of it.

For me it’s paperwork. I have a saying “if there’s a piece of red tape within a 5-mile radius I will be hanging from it by noon.” My first student loan was sent to the wrong province, to a school I’d never heard of. My master’s application, mysteriously, got split in two and sent to different departments, so both thought I had incomplete applications. I showed up to an artists’ residency that was by application, and though I’d gotten an acceptance letter, the coordinator had never heard of me.

These are just drops in the bucket.

Friends have poo-pooed me saying that these things happen to everyone but it’s the sheer accumulation over time that makes me question the chances.

But really. Are there people who have everything together? ….I don’t know whether to hope for or against that.

I used to make a point of never working on my birthday, it was a day for ‘twacking’ (which is Newfoundland-ese). It was for having lunch out, window shopping, a few pints, and just generally appreciating all the possible joy of having a totally easy-going day. It was awesome. As I’ve said, I have anxiety – it was probably the one day of the year I wasn’t stressed on some level about getting somewhere, or meeting a deadline.

The last few years I’ve had work-work that had to get done, and so I worked. I’m working this year too.  Maybe next year I’ll twack.

Leave a Comment (2)

Lee Churchill wrote on Jun 21:

If I knew where I wasn't supposed to be, I wouldn't go!! :-P If you've got some idea of how I can be forewarned, I'd love to hear it! Lol.

co-director (s) wrote on Jun 21:

Happy (fairly) big Birthday Lee! (: Twack on, all year!
I think it's the matter of what is "everything" and also, we should keep showing up to the places we're not supposed to according to some arbitrary rules, don't you think (;