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AFA Travelling Exhibition Program (TREX) looking for submissions

Posted on February 14, 2023 by Ryan Dahlman

By Anna Smith

Commentator/Courier

The Alberta Foundation of the Arts is looking for your hardiest, most portable works to make the trek with TREX.

The AFA Travelling Exhibition Program (TREX) is part of a provincial effort to allow every Albertan the opportunity to enjoy visual arts within their own communities. Every year, more than 600,000 Albertans get to experience the program as it takes pieces from local artists across the province.

“The program was started 40 years ago, originally just based out of Edmonton, where the Alberta Foundation for the Arts is,” said Program Manager and Curator Genevieve Farrell. “And it’s just so successful. Because it’s making art accessible and making that collection accessible, it expanded to four different regions: Grand Prairie, Edmonton, Calgary and Medicine Hat.”

Medicine Hat is in charge of the southeastern corner of the province, explained Farrell, and as such, makes a strong effort to find and curate works from the rural areas, which can be difficult due to the remote nature of the communities.

“So many artists do end up in major centres. So for us, that’s Calgary and Edmonton. And then it can sometimes be harder to connect with the artists that are in more rural locations. Sometimes they’re not on social media. Sometimes they’re not, you know, they’re not involved in the major arts centres, always. So it can be harder to connect with these super talented people,” said Farrell.

TREX looks to put artist’s work in places that people find themselves regularly, said Farrell, outside of dedicated Galleries, such as schools, libraries and senior’s centres, though it’s far from the only opportunity offered.

“With the open call, we have a physical gallery space in Medicine Hat called TREX space. So the work could be considered for a one off exhibition here, like a two month exhibition, where it could be any medium, it could be metal, it could be digital, it could be traditional painting, drawing, printmaking, it could be ceramic, it could be textile, any art form really because it’s just a physical gallery space and we can make anything happen here, big or small, heavy or light,” said Farrell.

When it comes to the travelling pieces themselves, however, things get a touch more complicated.

“Art submitted for this open call will also be considered for the Travelling Exhibition Program, which does have more restraints because all of that art needs to travel around the entire province for Two and a half years to venues like libraries, schools, that kind of thing,” said Farrell. “Art that’s put into an exhibition is put into crates that have to travel. And then they have to be installed in different venues by non-professionals, people that are not in the art world. So we’re talking about librarians, teachers, people working at senior centres, that’s mostly who’s going to be unpacking the crates and putting the work up in their space. So the work that travels has to be like, it can’t be super heavy, it can’t be super delicate. And it can’t be enormous.”

Pieces must be no larger than 35 by 35 inches framed, or 30 by 30 inches unframed, to allow for a single person to be able to unpack and put it on display, though those who work larger are still encouraged to submit their works.

“If you are working at a large scale, you can still apply because there are still programming opportunities that we can consider the applicant for,” said Farrell. “But for the Travelling Exhibition Program, because those exhibitions are travelling for two and a half years, and they won’t go to just our region, they’re gonna do the entire province, or they’re gonna go to Calgary, Edmonton, Grand Prairie regions, and then all those little communities within those areas. So for that program, specifically, we’re only considering work that is within those parameters.”

Interested parties are encouraged to submit images of their work, as well as a small artist’s statement and project proposal by midnight on the evening of March 1st,  the exact details of the requirements available at trexsoutheast.ca.

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