Artist Roundtable with Mark Prier

Mark Prier, artist
John English, historian
Rosemarie De Clerck-Floate, scientist
Gordon Knox, museum director

Thursday, September 11, 7pm
Musagetes’ Office @ 6 Dublin Street South, Guelph
Free admission

Are you curious about what goes on behind the scenes when an artist develops a project? Are you keen to discover how art can connect the dots between many diverse fields? Ever wondered how an artistic project can contribute to social change or how social change can influence art? Perhaps you are an artist who wants to expand the scope of your own practice, an inquisitive soul researching interdisciplinarity, or a creative type who is thinking deeply about resilience. The Artist Roundtable is a new way for folks like you to explore these questions.

On September 11 at 7pm we are hosting the first of a series of international roundtables in which artists can share their ideas and projects with scientists, historians, Aboriginal leaders, policymakers, politicians, community organizers, and social movement leaders. This inauagural roundtable will feature Mark Prier, a Mississauga-based multimedia artist, who will present his ecological, species-based projects to a panel of respondents. His ongoing project, Grey County Pastoral: Proton Township Exclosure, is a living installation that attempts and restoration of a historically-documented forest in southern Ontario on one acre of land. He creates miniature, nearly virtual versions of the history of our natural environment, letting us experience what our region was like before settlers colonized the land. Prier has a particular interest in forest ecologies and the dynamic between native and invasive species in Ontario. The Artist Roundtable is a chance to dig deeper into this artist’s process and project development

Taking inspiration from the UN Climate Summit set to begin on September 23 in New York, the roundtable discussion will focus on aspects of climate change, an interest of Mark Prier our three respondents:

  • John English is an historian, author, former politician, and expert on international affairs. He recently published Ice and Water, a history of the Arctic Council.
  • Rosemarie De Clerck-Floate is an entomologist and biocontrol scientist based in Lethbridge, Alberta.
  • Gordon Knox is the director of the Arizona State University Art Museum, former director of the Stanford Humanities Lab, and an expert on artist residencies internationally.

These four roundtable participants will engage in a conversation that takes its cue from a presentation of Prier’s past and ongoing projects. The evening event will be moderated by Jeanne Wikler, a New York-based expert on cultural diplomacy and an artist coach who enables artists to take their work into new and unusual forums. Wikler was recently the Dutch cultural attaché to New York (2001-2007) and to Paris (2009-2013).

Musagetes developed this Artist Roundtable approach in collaboration with Todd Lester, a New York and São Paulo-based artist and activist who has dedicated his career to supporting and enabling socially engaged artists around the world. He is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute (where he made the Arts-Policy Nexus) and founder of both freeDimensional and, an experimental artist engagement program and cooperative restaurant in São Paulo.

The Artist Roundtable is an experiment of Musagetes and Cities for People. Cities for People, initiated by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, is a broad national movement that aims to make our cities more resilient and livable. The co-creative team—which includes cheyanne turions, Musagetes, Todd Lester, and Ryan Doherty—is curating a program of activities in Guelph Area and Lethbridge. Cities for People understands each city to be a unique ecosystem, and like any ecosystem, a city’s strength and resilience depends on its ability to nurture the full diversity of its inhabitants and give them what they need not just to survive, but thrive. Cities for People sees every city as an invitation: an invitation for interaction, innovation, change, inclusion, learning, love and growth; to come up with new ways to make the cities we live in support how we would like to live. We invite you to deepen this conversation about cities and resilience with us at the Artist Roundtable.

Mark Prier’s multimedia art examines the interaction between culture, ecology, and survival. Working from diverse sources, such as folklore, geology, history, and botany, he rearticulates this examination into various media, including installation, new media, performance, sound, and video. His exhibitions include shows in Canada (The Rooms, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, White Water Gallery, Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener & Area), Mexico (Kunsthaus Santa Fé), United Kingdom (the Lost O), and the United States (City Without Walls, and [Untitled] Artspace). He has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Newfoundland & Labrador Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council. In 2008, he travelled to Gotland, Sweden for the Brucebo Summer Residency; and, in 2012, he travelled to Crowsnest Pass, Alberta for Trap/door Artist-Run Centre’s Gushul Studio & Collaboration Residency. A 2004 graduate of University of Toronto’s Visual Studies program, Prier also took part in HotBox Riverwood’s mentorship program with Reinhard Reitzenstein in 2011. As half of the electronica duo hellothisisalex, Prier has played the MUTEK Festival in Montreal, done commissions for CBC Radio, and taken part in the National Film Board of Canada’s Minus 40 project.

Musagetes is an international organization that strives to make the arts more central and meaningful in peoples’ lives, in our communities, and in our societies. Musagetes works in Guelph, Sudbury, Lecce (Italy), and Rijeka (Croatia) to demonstrate how art can be participatory and socially engaged, to establish a greater sense of belonging in communities.