Carrying Baggage (September - December, 2023)

Artists: Heather Kehoe, Harley Morman, Kalina Nedelcheva, Arianna Richardson, Noble Seggie

Carrying Baggage was a unique travelling exhibition that was shared in a series of formal, semi-formal and guerilla venues in southern Alberta throughout the fall and early winter of 2023.

Carrying Baggage asked artists to create work that could fit into small to mid-sized hardside suitcases, new or old. The only condition given was that the luggage itself was an integral component to the work. The thematic considerations were open, and the different artists reflected on motifs including movement, travel, history, the baggage they carry, and the public vs private. The exhibition demonstrated how artists can use a modest suitcase to give the viewer pause to reflect on complex social issues, and Trap\door Artist Run Centre was excited to carry these works into a wide array of public locations.

As an artist-run centre without a fixed and permanent venue, we are interested in situating art in spaces where creative producers and the public can intersect. Historically, we have done this with pop-up galleries, ephemeral public artworks, and relational projects. “Carrying Baggage” investigated this in a very direct and focused way.

Carrying Baggage relied on community partners to host the exhibition, and it was displayed at: Casa Arts Centre, The University of Lethbridge, The Southern Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG), The Lebel Mansion in Pincher Creek, The Lethbridge Public Library, and Lethbridge City Hall.

Installation Images:

Detail Images:

The Most Valuable Button Project
Heather Kehoe
participatory installation
hand-lined suitcase, handmade, thrifted, recycled and embellished buttons, 2023

How do you determine the value of an object? By how much you would pay for it? Whether it fits your personal taste? Whether it fits an intended purpose or use? Perhaps you factor in the cost of the materials or the uniqueness of the object. If presented with approximately 1372 buttons, do you think you’d be able to choose the best one?

The Most Valuable Button Project (MVB) is a participatory installation. We invite you to select the most valuable button from the case to keep for yourself. You can share your selection through social media using the tag #trapdoorMVB. Selections will be tracked, catalogued, and shared throughout the course of the exhibition.

Heather Kehoe is a multidisciplinary artist. Her current practice is centres around using embroidery as a research method and rhetorical device. She graduated from the University of Calgary in 2020 with a BFA Hours in Visual Studies. Her work has been exhibited in Arts Commons, cSpace King Edward, Loft112, Alberta Craft Council, and the Calgary Central Library. She is a member of Contextural Fibre Arts Cooperative, and serves on the Board as Director at Large. She is currently based out of Lethbridge.

Time I Spent & Time I Wasted
Arianna Richardson
Found suitcase, polyester, velvet, sequin, lurex, acrylic, plastic packaging waste, 2023

This piece is part of an ongoing series of pillow sets that feature the slogans “Time I Spent” and “Time I Wasted”. I have crafted each set of pillows in tandem, working to make them as identical as possible. I became obsessed with these slogans and this way of representing them because they perfectly encapsulate the arbitrary distinctions made to delineate and enforce power structures in our society of precarity and disposability. Depending on the context, my labour can often be categorized as valueless while at other times, the exact same or similar labours reward me with economic/social/cultural capital. This absurdity is forever commemorated in these overly decorative, frivolous pillows that poke fun at and destabilize the structures of capitalism that work to keep me in a perpetual and destructive pursuit of more more more.

Arianna Richardson is a sculptor, performance artist, sewist, and mother from Lethbridge, AB in Treaty 7 territory. She is a lifelong crafter and thrift-store enthusiast, constantly collecting plastic-based trash and discarded craft materials. Richardson sometimes performs under the pseudonym, The Hobbyist, taking her hobby-craft pursuits outdoors to activate public spaces and talk to people about trash. While she isn’t making art, Arianna works as Lead Prepator at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and as a sessional instructor teaching Spatial Practice at the University of Lethbridge. Richardson holds a BFA (2013) in Studio Arts from the University of Lethbridge and an MFA (2018) from NSCAD in Halifax, NS. Her first artist book, Garbage Party: A Collection of Thoughts About Trash, was self-released in March 2021.

A Fragment of My Memory
Kalina Nedelcheva
mixed media, 2023

I am fascinated by human consciousness, its role in the construction of meaning, and pathways to building solidarity through memory. My artistic practice relies on multimedia and theoretical storytelling to create spaces for collective (un)learning. I am captivated by the transformative potential of liminal spaces as sites of resistance and connection. In my work—video, painting/drawing, digital mapping, writing, and experimental programming, I highlight non-linear concepts of time, identity as pluriversal, and recognize social reality as built from fragments of interacting localities.

Currently, I am exploring my Eastern European identity as articulated and understood in the West through the Fragments of My Memory series. I want to examine the liminal status of the Balkans as a region split between the East and the West, and the phenomenon of “self-colonizing” cultures—a term some scholars use to define Eastern Europeans. What does this mean for the global movement for decolonization? How does war influence memory? How do we bridge the gap between the past and present, and connect with broader historical and societal contexts? These will be questions I will be thinking through during my research.

Kalina Nedelcheva (she/they) is a multi-media artist-researcher, illustrator, emerging curator, and musician, based in Tkaronto, Canada. With a medal-winning MFA thesis in Criticism & Curatorial Practice from OCAD University, Kalina explores the ways in which human consciousness engages in processes of meaning-making. Passionate about critical theory, film, and experimental mapping as mediums for storytelling, they channel the potential of alogical language, chaos, and montage to challenge dominant ideological practices. Their experimental shorts have been screened by Trinity Square Video, The Madavera Expojour JazzTimes Film Festival, OCAD SU Spring Festival, Toronto Arthouse Film Festival, and a few academic conferences. Kalina’s writing has appeared in publications such as Peripheral Review, Sidedoor Magazine, The Senses & Society Journal and they were the runner-up for C Magazine’s New Critics Award. As an emerging curator, Kalina has headed projects like “Archives of Space” (interactive map, online), “DEN” (as part of naka collective), and “Peculiar Movements/Green Junctions” at NAMARA Contemporary.

Little Fella with an Idea
Harley Morman
mixed media, 2023

A window on the side of the battered black paperboard suitcase invites people to peer inside. Neatly packed between layers of folded clothing, a pair of rodents embark on their own journey. Bags and boxes packed, two travellers wait in anticipation of transport to an unknown destination. Is the suitcase’s human carrier aware of everything their bag holds? Are the small travelers embarking on their own big adventure, or making a perilous journey to a new home?

Overlooked spaces inside institutions have long been a theme and source of inspiration in my work. Brimming with relational potential, what might be considered undesirable by some can be a resourceful other’s lifeline. Little Fella might be seen to comment ambiguously and humorously and on themes including travel, the spread of disease, ‘contagion-like’ spread of ideas, and the balance between independence and interdependence. Little Fella’s title references Tommy Douglas’ well-known ‘Mouseland’ speech, in which a community of mice grapples with rulership by cats. Inside the suitcase, low-craft dollhouse-scaled miniatures model a play world, mirroring real-life social formations through metaphor. In my work, the mice are always the subjects of identification.

Harley Morman’s playful artwork considers social relations among artists and art institutions. Since 2004, his work has shown in exhibitions and festivals across Canada, and is held in the permanent collections of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Saskatchewan Arts Board. The child of French and German settlers, Morman grew up along the Minnesota River on traditional Dakota land. After emigrating to Canada, he earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Saskatchewan (2003) and an M.F.A. from the University of Lethbridge (2016), where he is currently a PhD candidate in Cultural, Social, and Political Thought and a sessional lecturer in Sociology. Morman is trans and lives with multiple sclerosis. His solo exhibition Lets Do the Time Warp Again opened in the Art Gallery of Alberta’s RBC Gallery in October 2021.

Two Beings Separated By Time and Space
Noble Seggie
mixed media, 2023

The important relationships in my life have been defined by distance my whole life; as a self-proclaimed “Army Brat,” my childhood was full long-distance love. Using reclaimed textiles and materials provided by a loved one (sent by mail from their home to mine), I wanted to create a soft, safe, intimate space for these two creatures that long for one another. When open for display, the astronaut and the star are apart, bound where they are – it is only in the private moments when the suitcase is closed that they can be together.

Noble is a nonbinary artist living and working in Mohkinststis/Calgary, Alberta. Working in a variety of mediums, including watercolour, textiles, and traditional craft, their work explores identity, memory, and the beauty of life’s minutiae. They received their B.Sc. in biology in 2020 and will be a part of the RBC Emerging Visual Artists Program in Calgary in 2024.

Didactic panel and guestbook.

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