Eyes of My Community
WestEnd Commons residents with Gabriela Inés Agüero
Program: WITH ART Project
Medium: Digital Photography
Eyes of My Community: a collaborative photography project from the heart of Winnipeg’s West End
Over the course of a year, artist Gabriela Inés Agüero developed a collaborative photography project with tenants of the WestEnd Commons. The WestEnd Commons is a newly opened affordable housing complex at the corner of St. Matthews Avenue and Maryland Street. The residents include diverse families and individuals of all ages, many are newcomers to Winnipeg from around the world.
The artist was matched with the WestEnd Commons through the Winnipeg Arts Council’s WITH ART community public art program. She got to know members of this burgeoning community, as they got to know each other, by attending tenant meetings and potlucks in their new shared home. Interested residents were given digital cameras to create images as the artist led field trips in their new neighbourhood, presented hands-on workshops, and organized holiday-themed photo booths to introduce the idea of portraits and other methods of working with the cameras. Together they created images of people and places that showcase the perspectives and talent that emerged over the course of the project.
Eyes of My Community is the @WestEndCommonsPhotography Instagram account and exhibition of these photographs by residents, Alannah, Alice, Amrah, Arati, Clayton, Craig, Donatus, Erika, Evgeny, Eyobiel, Gisma, Illya, Irv, Kibra, Linda, Mahroo, Matt, Michael, Nasrin, Natnael, Narajen, Olga, Sonia, Svitlana, and Yakub. The exhibition was on display and open to the public at the Blankstein Gallery on the second floor of the Millennium Library for the month of December 2016. When the exhibition closes, the photographs will return home with the participants to adorn the walls of the Commons as a legacy of this community public art project.
The project was celebrated at a public reception on December 3, 2016.
About the WITH ART community public art program
The Winnipeg Arts Council’s WITH ART program matches artists with community groups to work on community identity, issues, and shared goals through the development of an art project. The project unfolds in two phases. In the first phase, the artist consults with community members to determine the goals of the art project. In the second phase, the artwork is developed more fully and created in collaboration with the community. Once completed, the artworks are celebrated in a public launch. Applications from community groups and artists are sought in January each year.
Gabriela Inés Agüero was born in Cordoba, Agentina and has lived in Canada for the last thirty years. Growing up under a military government and then migrating to Canada as an adult informed her interest in ideas that re-conceptualize deeply held notions of home, place and perceptions of self. Her practice has focused on the social and political aspects of image making, with consideration of human rights and gender. She has a BFA (honours) from the University of Manitoba and an MFA from Louisiana State University. Gabriela has four children and lives in Winnipeg.
WestEnd Commons (WEC) is a community of communities. This housing complex on the upper floors of 641 St. Matthews Avenue opened on November 1, 2014 with 26 homes for low- to middle-income families, single parent families, newcomers to Canada, Indigenous families, people with mental health challenges, and others.
The lower level has been a Neighbourhood Resource Centre for over forty years, with community groups who work to support the people of West Central Winnipeg. WEC is also home to six distinct worshipping congregations.