Coral and combing the beach – Creighton artist's B.C. journey

Creighton artist Katie Kozak is coming back after spending a month in B.C. at the Sointula Art Shed. There, she combed the beaches of Malcolm Island, a small island just north of Vancouver Island, for supplies to create sculptures and art.

Kozak teamed up with another artist during the residency. Even the act of collecting materials turned into a display.

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“We were both dressed head to toe in in coral every day,”she said.

“We were picking marine debris, specifically man made items off the beach, and possibly turning them into sculptures, or at least then recycle them.”

The outfit’s colour was chosen to compliment the natural world around the artists.

“The coral color was very visible with the blue ocean background and forest background, so pretty much the complementary colors,”Kozak said.

“It was like wearing high-vis. Whenever you’re doing something in the landscape, you’re almost doing a performance.”

Kozak’s work was supported by a $7,300 Indigenous/Métis Art and Artists grant from the Saskatchewan Arts Board. The arts board gave out nearly $5.3 million in grants to more than 180 different projects this spring.

“When you apply for a grant, you have to have a pretty good idea what you’re going to do - you write up your projects, everything you envision,” Kozak said.

“That always changes when you are doing site specific work.”

Kozak explained the different tasks she needed to complete during the month.

“The first week was a lot of four to six hours of walking these pebble beaches, looking for materials and then like carrying all this heavy stuff back to the studio,”she said.

“Week two, we were focusing more on looking at the materials and thinking about like, what kind of sculptures we can make, that kind of stuff. Then we were

making sculptures. Week three, we were kind of like photographing and documenting things and recording sound to make some sound pieces.”

The grant money Kozak received will help put the final polish on the pieces she

created during the residency.

“[The grant] means a lot of things for the project, in terms of actually producing some like professional archival quality photographic prints,”Kozak said.

“Getting to do some things - maybe making a light table for some of the pieces, just having those extra elements.”

One moment that stood out for Kozak came very early in the residency, when she discovered she would be wearing coral for the entire month.

“We woke up Monday morning and we opened up our suitcases and realized that all we had to wear was corals for the whole time,”she said.

“We had thought that we were just going to wear coral to beachcomb, but our suitcases were packed with coral clothes and we couldn’t take any other clothes. We didn’t really think about that until we got them. We were wearing the outfits all day every day, not just when we were beachcombing.”

Another moment that stood out for Kozak was the first time she had to do laundry, and put her clothes out to dry, leaving a block of coral coloured clothes to flutter in the wind.

“I was a little nervous to leave the house on Monday morning all dressed in corals,”she said. “But when we got to the beach people we’re talking to us loving it…by Wednesday, we were so used to seeing each other and coral, and if we did wear one of the couple pieces of clothing we had that wasn’t coral, It felt weird.”Kozak is now back in Saskatchewan and will work to put final polish on the pieces she created.


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