Friday, July 13, 2012

Hello, Wide Open Spaces: Kara Uzelman talks Saskatchewan Moves at

Earlier this month, my interest was piqued when I saw a release from Saskatoon's AKA Gallery stating that artist Kara Uzelman was residing in a small town in Saskatchewan.

I had thought of Uzelman more as a Vancouver- and Berlin-based artist, having seen her work at the Power Plant, Red Bull Projects and Mercer Union here in Toronto and read about a project where she excavated her Vancouver backyard.

Why, I thought, would someone younger and so evidently growing audiences in these art centres be drawn to a town of 450?

Well, this week, Uzelman kindly indulged my curiosity about her move in a phone conversation from her new home in Nokomis, Saskatchewan, where she lives with her partner Jeffrey Allport. We also discussed she and Allport's first collaborative exhibition, which is currently taking place at AKA Gallery. 

Some of that conversation ended up in a kind of previewy item at, where I work part-time. Here's an excerpt:

“I feel like my work is really somehow based in Canada,” Uzelman says over the phone from her new home. “I didn’t really want to live in Germany permanently, and Vancouver was just getting too expensive to be able to both live and travel.” (By contrast, the house she and Allport purchased cost just $28,000 while remaining in easy driving distance to Regina, Saskatoon and their international airports.)

Uzelman is known for an archaeological approach to her practice—she once dug up the backyard of her Vancouver house—as well as her interest in found materials. She notes that both these tendencies, and her family background and high-school years in Saskatoon, are also part of what made the move a good fit. 

“In a foreign country, I just didn’t feel totally comfortable [using found materials] because there’s a whole history and culture there that I’m not intimately aware of. Here, it’s somehow a little more comfortable working that way.”

You can read the rest over at I also note some of the other contemporary Canadian artists who have been drawn to the frugal pleasures of small-town SK living. Residing in Toronto as I do, I have to say I envy the amount of space they have, which is a factor that likely drives my interest in stories such as these. 

Oh, also to add to my envy, they live near North America's oldest designated bird sanctuary, Last Mountain Lake. It's part of the inspiration for the title of their AKA Gallery exhibition, Warblers.

(Image of Uzelman & Allport's Warblers installation @ AKA Gallery by Devon McAdam via

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