Category: Blog

A Practice in Grief

Sadie Mallon

Living Things – VAV/CUCCR Residency 2019

Sadie uses her interdisciplinary practice to dissect our relations to birth, sex and death. An eco-feminist approach is employed as Sadie makes bold connections between our treatment of human experience and the natural world. Tackling the unappealing nature of relations with care, Sadie puts forth a request to change the way we relate to one another and the earth.

Project description:

For centuries, artists have strived to create archival works that will outlive them. Derived from the belief that our fear of death and loss are a common motivator behind creating archival or single-use works, “A Practice in Grief” seeks to face these fears by emphasizing death’s crucial role in producing new life. “A Practice in Grief” takes the cycle of life and applies it conceptually and literally to material forms, in hopes of inspiring artists to be more environmentally conscious in their practices.

“A Practice in Grief” consists of a series of graphite drawings on handmade papers of the artist’s body amidst scenes of birth, life and death as witnessed in nature. Discarded papers were salvaged, soaked, blended with natural colour agents (turmeric/dirt) and laced with indigenous to Montreal plant seeds. At the end of the piece’s life in the VAV Gallery, the artist will bury this fully compostable piece, from which the seeds embedded within the paper, will grow.

Sadie MallonA Practice in Grief

Caite Clark

Caite Clark

Living Things – VAV/CUCCR Residency 2019

Caite Clark is a puppeteer and projection artist in her final year of Concordia’s Theatre and Development Specialization. Concordia theatre includes Dwellings (puppeteer), The Fredy Stories (Assistant Director), The Tempest (Assistant Director), and Crossings (puppeteer). Projection work includes Autobiography of Red (TNC Theatre McGill) and Lovesong for Insomniacs (Student Performing Arts Festival). 

Project Description: 

If I could use two words to describe my practice as a puppeteer, it would be sustainability and curiosity. I am interested in making things out of reused and recycled material, as well as the multiple usages for a single material or puppet. For me, puppeteering is a natural curiosity: how can we think through something? How can we access that childlike part of our brain that is willing to believe an inanimate object is alive? As this exhibition is a collaborative effort, I seek to invite people to animate the puppets I have created, breathe life into discarded material, and engage with sustainability in a tactile way. 

Caite Clark

Armando Rivas

Armando Rivas

Living Things – VAV/CUCCR Residency 2019

I am Venezuelan, and this is my first year here at Concordia in the fine arts program. Traditionally I have always painted, and something I have done for years is make computer models as reference material for my paintings. This is what has made this last year so exciting, as I have been able to bring these digital fantasy worlds to life. For some time I worked in an architecture firm and carpentry, both of which were profoundly instructive experiences. Since I have been exploring the field of construction but through an artistic lens. I am deeply interested in the power of spaces and the influence they can exert on individuals or a collective. From always I have explored miniatures and using them as a means of visualizing grand spaces. What has been particular about the last couple of months has been that I’ve considered material for the first time. Before, most of my work was painted on canvas. Seeing a reduced budget, I have sought for alternatives, and that led me to work more and more with CUCCR.

Armando Rivas

Among Things

Xavier Beldor

Living Things – VAV/CUCCR Residency 2019

Xavier Bélanger-Dorval has a multidisciplinary corpus comprising kinetic works, paintings, sculptures and installations. Favouring the use of recycled objects, his work focuses on the themes of the environment and consumption. In his works, he organizes the formal possibilities of organic and non-organic objects in order to revisit their meaning.

Xavier Bélanger-Dorval a un corpus multidisciplinaire constitué d’œuvres cinétiques, de peintures et de sculptures. Privilégiant l’usage d’objets recyclés, son travail se concentre sur les thèmes de l’environnement et la consommation. Dans ses oeuvres, il agence les possibilités formelles d’objets organiques et non organiques de manière à en revisiter leur signification.

Project Description :

This kinetic work forms an ecosystem of recycled objects reassembled in a disorganized way into recycled wood furniture. The mass made of these objects moves at random intervals, simulating the effect of a breath. These movements remove objects from their waste condition by giving them a second life, this time organic. This project addresses the themes of the environment and consumption to stimulate reflection on how we interact and deal with the objects around us. It also invites the viewer to reconsider the distinction between things, objects and waste.

Cette oeuvre cinétique forme un écosystème d’objets recyclés et rassemblés de manière désordonné dans un meuble en bois recyclés. La masse de ces objets se meut à des intervalles aléatoires, simulant l’effet d’une respiration. Ces mouvements sortent les objets de leur condition de déchet en leur donnant une seconde vie, cette fois organique. Ce projet aborde les thèmes de l’environnement et la consommation en vue de susciter une réflexion sur la façon dont nous interagissons et traitons les objets qui nous entourent. Elle invite également le spectateur à reconsidérer la distinction entre objet et déchet.

Xavier Bélanger-DorvalAmong Things

Care Package

Dexter Barker-Glenn

Living Things – VAV/CUCCR Residency 2019

I am a Toronto born visual artist working sculpture, painting and experimental video work. Through my art, I attempt to understand my own identity and accept it as both a singular state and as a combination of many states. I often incorporate organizational structures such as cabinets of curiosity, three-ring binders and manila folders into my work. I identify with these objects as they are both a single object and an assemblage of many objects. I hope to show the beauty in these structures while drawing attention to their power to shape our feelings towards the objects they contain.

Project description:

Through playful interventions with shipping materials, the Care Package Series puts a spotlight on these often discarded, yet powerful objects. The sculptures are made from used plywood and styrofoam packaging; materials that don’t only protect the objects they transport, but add to their value by insinuating that they are important enough to be protected. Similarly, the work and care in my manipulation of these materials change their value by implying that they are worthy of being cared for. These objects have gone through two journeys. They have literally moved from place A to place B, but also have journeyed from functioning as a case or frame to functionally protecting the ‘thing’ to becoming ‘the thing’ itself

Dexter Barker-GlennCare Package

Erin Berry

Living Things – VAV/CUCCR Residency 2019

Erin Berry is completing the final months of her undergraduate degree at Concordia University where she is Majoring in Ceramics. She is the president of the Concordia Ceramics Students Association and a research assistant to the artist, Linda Swanson. Her fibres and ceramic works have shown throughout Canada and the United States, most recently Vermont and Montreal, with her first solo show taking place at Xchanges Gallery in Victoria, BC in 2017. Erin will be taking part in the Short-term Artist Residency at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center in Denmark this May.

Project Description:

For this project, my aim is to bring an awareness of the value and environmental cost of the one-use items many of us consume on a daily basis. Earlier this fall I had the opportunity to go to St. Hilaire and dig in a creek bed for local clay. This was my first time experiencing the full process of working with clay from its source, through the making process, to the final glaze firing. During this residency I made clay cups, using the throwing techniques taught to me by my grandmother. The cups are made from the locally sources clay and glazed with found, donated and recycled materials. This process truly gives the end results a value far beyond its intended function as an object or Vessel. During the final exhibition of the residency I will invite everyone to enter their names into a draw for the cups, names will then be chosen and the cups will be given away at the end of the exhibition period. Participants will be able to use and reuse the vessel they choose instead of a paper or plastic. At a time when the global climate is noticeably changing, as a result of our inability to slow our culture of over consumption, this project is meant as a small push towards mindfulness of the impact each of us has on the environment. In a society where it is easier to order on Amazon or get a cheap cup at Dollarama, the act of making, taking the time to craft an object and give it away is a protest against the tide of global consumerism.

Maude Lauzière Dumas

Maude Lauzière Dumas

Living Things – VAV/CUCCR Residency 2019

Living and working in Montreal, Maude Lauziere Dumas, visual artist, focuses on materiality through a multidisciplinary practice. Wanting to explore the links between raw materials and their industrial transformation, she first explores jewelry as her way of expression. Her practice evolves slowly towards an artistic approach questioning the object in relation to the human body and the fabricated. She is currently pursuing her training in sculpture at Concordia University.

Vivant et travaillant à Montréal, Maude Lauziere Dumas, artiste en arts visuels, se concentre sur la matérialité à travers une pratique multidisciplinaire. Voulant explorer les liens entre les matières naturelles et leur transformation industrielle, elle explore premièrement la joaillerie comme moyen d’expression. Sa pratique évolue tranquillement vers une approche artistique questionnant l’objet en relation avec le corps humain et le fabriqué. Elle poursuit actuellement sa formation en sculpture à l’Université Concordia.

Project description:

Delivery Matter Project is an installation offering a reflection on the ontology of matter. This principle questioning the notion of living leads to seeing “things” as animated subjects. Shaking our anthropocentric conceptions of the world, the work attempts to deconstruct the idea that matter is uniform and inert. The assemblages presented visits the notions of agency and their capacity of self-organization in the space. Material phenomena are studied by the artistic gesture to have a better understanding of the interdependence of human and nonhuman matters in relation to their environment.

This artist residency allows me to develop my understanding of the existing interrelationships between materials and society. Serving as a roundabout, the physical location of the recuperation center gives power to the substances and glamorize their presence. The created artwork thus supports this desire to see the material and human identities as a whole, open to different processes of social, cultural and political transformation.


Matter Delivery Project est une installation proposant une réflexion sur l’ontologie de la matière. Ce principe questionnant la notion du vivant amène à voir les « choses » comme des sujets animés. Ébranlant nos conceptions anthropocentriques du monde, l’œuvre tente de déconstruire l’idée que la matière est uniforme et inerte. Les assemblages présentés permettent ainsi de visiter les notions d’agentivité et leur capacité d’auto-organisation dans l’espace. Les phénomènes matériels sont étudiés par le geste artistique pour mieux comprendre l’interdépendance des matières humaines et non humaines en relation avec leur environnement.

Cette résidence d’artiste me permet de développer ma compréhension des interrelations entre matériaux et société. Servant de carrefour giratoire, le lieu physique du centre de récupération redonne du pouvoir aux substances et valorisent leur présence. L’œuvre crée soutient ainsi ce désir de voir les identités matérielles et humaines comme un tout, ouvert aux différents processus de transformation sociales, culturelles et politiques.

Maude Lauzière DumasMatter Delivery

Maya Jain

I am a multidisciplinary artist, designer and evolving person. Though my passions are scattered across disciplines, I am consistently guided by emotion and resonance with aesthetics and philosophy.

Project description

The body of work that I have created as part of the CUCCR x VAV residency is a personal exploration that uncovers the remarkable potential of used clothing.

Living Things

Living Things
VAV/CUCCR Residency 2019

A new sense of care is given to the physical as Living Things reconsiders the relationship between the artist and their chosen materials. Living Things is the culmination of a three-month-long artist residency created in collaboration between the VAV Gallery and Concordia’s Center for Creative Reuse (CUCCR). Eight undergraduate Fine Arts students were selected to create works that consider life-after-art, giving old materials a new raison d’être, with objects primarily sourced from Concordia University’s waste stream.

In celebration of the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR)’s second year of operation, CUCCR and the VAV Gallery will be hosting the vernissage on Monday, March 25th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The exhibition runs until March 29th.

VAV Gallery is wheelchair accessible 

VAV Gallery
1395 Rene Levesque W.

Facebook Event

Sustainability Artist Talk and Workshop at the VAV Gallery
March 28th
5-7:30 pm
VAV Gallery
1395 Rene Levesque W.

Exhibiting Artists

Why I love being a reclaimer

Twice a year, CUCCR conducts its reclaimathon: a period at the end of each semester where usable materials are collected from around campus. Anyone can participate, be it as a donor, advocate, or, most adventurous of all… as a reclaimer!

How does it work?

Reclaimers choose a location on campus to focus on, then set up a bin for the community to leave donations in. CUCCR provides turquoise-painted bins in varying shapes and sizes, but even a well-labeled cardboard box will do.

Day 1 of Reclaimathon
Day 1 of Reclaimathon

In a perfect world, everyone at Concordia would know about CUCCR’s services. They’d know what CUCCR looks for in its intake, and reclaimer bins would overflow with quality materials in the final weeks of school. Maybe someday we’ll get there. Until then, the role of the reclaimer is two-fold. First and foremost, reclaimers look after their bin — keeping it tidy, sorting out non-reusable materials, and carting contents to CUCCR when stuff starts to overaccumulate. Monitoring is only half the fun, however. The real action lies in the hunt.

You want the good stuff? You gotta go out and get it.

Print media
Print media’s recycling bins are a goldmine for scrap paper and collage materials.

An excuse to explore

As a design student, I spend most of my time between the 5th and 7th floors of EV. When I do end up in different departments, it’s usually for a specific reason — a workshop, appointment, event, etc. But Concordia is a massive school, with hidden gems waiting to be unearthed from countless secret spaces. (Buried deep in a labyrinth of subterranean storage cages, CUCCR is a perfect example!) I love the reclaimathon because it gives me an excuse to open doors and poke my head around parts of the school I normally have no business in.

Last week while scouring the 9th floor of EV, I discovered the SenseLab: a vibrant, whimsical playhouse of art, plants and colourful curiosities loosely defined as “a laboratory for thought in motion.” Walking in on an event that saw participants perched around the room on pillows or hammocks, I was sent off with a handful of purple yarn and half a mind to question if I hadn’t imagined the whole thing.

Chloë Lalonde also volunteers at CUCCR. Having participated in the reclaimathon last year, she felt it gave her an opportunity to see another side of the school. “I really enjoyed seeing the ‘behind the scenes’ of unfamiliar departments and the interesting things left behind, especially in fibres.”

Teach others to “see the potential”

It’s the process of looking past an object’s assigned purpose in order to imagine future new uses, and frequenters of CUCCR know it well. On a grander scale, it’s one of CUCCR’s most valuable contributions to the community: an opportunity to question conventions; an exercise in thinking outside the box. Beyond simply cutting costs of production, “seeing the potential” will sharpen your mind to possibilities unseen by the masses. (Just be careful not to end up like me — creeping out each new roommate with the ever-growing pile of random crap in my room.)

As a reclaimer, the line between trash and treasure is yours to draw. In the beginning, the people you meet on your journey will probably need a fresh set of eyes to identify value in things they’re accustomed to throwing away, so don’t be afraid to push and prod a little. Soon enough they’ll be handing you all sorts of weird objects, animated at the prospect of participating in the unique search-and-rescue that is the reclaimathon.

Photography Studio
I’d never been inside this softly-lit photography studio before now. Inside, a fellow reclaimer and I met a man cutting up large-format prints of starry night skies. At first he was reluctant to believe he had anything to offer us, but after a bit of nudging, he showed us to a bin of shiny photo paper offcuts, some of which were quite large. We took the biggest pieces we could find and started for the door, where he stopped us with a tall, skinny box. “To transport the paper,” he explained.

For those sensitive to the amount of waste generated in material-heavy practices, saving things from landfill can also have a therapeutic effect. Yannick Victor, CUCCR volunteer and two-time reclaimer, adds, “For me being a reclaimer is really all about completing the circle and continuing the life cycle of the material, specifically for the sculpture area. After using and seeing so much material be used and transformed throughout the year in the sculpture studios, it was almost cathartic to go back and reclaim what was used.”

First dibs on the haul

The reclaimathon is when CUCCR gets in most of its stock for the following months, so naturally, tons of cool stuff streams in at once. Reclaimers have access to this fresh selection before anyone else.

“Having first pick is great,” says Chloë. “I stocked the summer camp I worked last year with stuff I reclaimed.”

This year’s top prize: two huge rolls of acetate! My favourite material for making stencils.

Co-curricular credits

As an added bonus, reclaimers can claim Sustainability Ambassador credits on their co-curricular record. These types of credits appear alongside your transcript, helping you to stand out when applying for academic opportunities.

Warm fuzzy-feelies for helping out your favourite creative reuse center

A motivated base of reuse-enthusiasts is essential to CUCCR’s mission of diverting as much waste from landfill and saving as much money for the community as possible. There’s a near-endless amount of stuff destined for the dump by the end of each term — certainly more than CUCCR’s limited staff capacity can handle on its own. Anyone who’s ever left the depot with an armful of materials and a feeling of gratified awe at the important work CUCCR does should consider taking part in the reclaimathon as a way of returning the favor to the organization that keeps on giving.

Bring a friend
When you do, bring a friend! The reclaimathon is twice as fun in pairs.

To know more, visit the Reclaimer page!