Local artist Cameron Kidd inspires Victoria youth and community

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Victoria-raised, self-taught artist Cameron Kidd will complete his 10-month-long residency at artist centre Open Space in April 2014.

Kidd’s residency focuses on three main public mural projects. The mural projects combine Kidd’s artistic vision and the collaborating work of young artists and community members in Victoria.

In April, Kidd will host “Reclaim the Streets: A Symposium on Public Art and Public Space” in partnership with curatorial assistant Sara Fruchtman. The symposium “will revolve around the themes of public art, accessibility, and community,” says Kidd.

Kidd will also compile a publication, displaying his work over time at Open Space.

At 21 years old, Kidd left art school to pursue a self-taught path in art. He notes that this path meant learning to self-motivate and admits that the daily learning curve is steep and at times “a bit tough,” but rewarding.

After being laid-off from his 10-year cook position, Kidd joined the Job Creation Partnership Program.

“I wanted to do something else, I was done cooking, and it provided me an opportunity to work as the assistant studio artist for the 2009 Luminara [Lantern Festival],” he says.

His involvement in the festival gave him a point of reference for future projects and inspired him to pursue grant options—which led him to Open Space.

“The work with youth, community, and the realm of public art has transpired from all of my past activities and become the focus of what I’m working on now,” says Kidd.

Kidd’s mural process begins with a wall painted in acrylic, to block out large sections of the wall for later work. Using artist-quality spray paint and acrylic latex, he then lets his inspirations come to life in the detail.

“If I can work right out of my head, I find sometimes the most interesting things occur then,” he says.

When working with other organizations and youth, he encourages the creation of a vague plan of action, to encourage productivity and focus. He says some building owners are specific, and prefer a draft of work before the mural’s creation.

Kidd prefers to work without restrictions, but says, “Sometimes people are fine with that, others want a loose mock-up of what I’m planning.”

The first completed mural of the three public projects is located in the commercial alleyway near Bastion Square. Kidd refers to the project as “an interesting dynamic” of talent. The mural was created by youths from the Intercultural Association and various up-and-coming professional artists.

The second mural is located on the side of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, on Moss Street. It was painted in collaboration with fellow mural artist Mikhail Miller and largely created by young artists in Victoria. To begin, they planned the broader areas of colour and placement, but Kidd let the young artists paint in the details on their own terms.

“The hope for me on this [Moss Street mural] project is that it can progress as a growing, ever-changing situation involving different groups throughout the community,” says Kidd.

The third, and current, project is the back wall of the Open Space location. Kidd is full of ideas and inspiration for the last stretch of his residence.

Kidd has identified different groups that will work with him on the final mural, and is confident in letting the groups decide on the artistic direction when the time comes for creation.

“For most people that use spray paint, it’s about the impromptu ideas and imagery, which seem to be an inherent part of the process,” he says.

For the mural projects, Kidd says “it started out as an idea to create a number of outlets for youth to participate in.” As the projects come to completion, Kidd has begun to realize that the works are more than opportunities to mentor youth; they make up a community-inclusive art initiative that he wishes to see flourish in Victoria.

Open Space’s curatorial assistant, Sara Fruchtman, has worked closely with Kidd over the course of his residency.

“One of the major things that working with Cam has taught me is how to co-ordinate different groups,” says Fruchtman. “He’s really good at connecting with different people in the city that could help us with the project, which I never had an opportunity to do.”

Fruchtman is responsible for bringing Kidd’s projects together conceptually, “in a way that can be presented to the public,” she says.

Kidd says he hopes that the young people who have worked with him on these projects take away “inspiration, motivation, [and] a bit of skill.”

The Ministry of Casual Living has been Kidd’s secondary project next to the residency at Open Space. Kidd will soon open a gallery space on Fort Street in conjunction with the Ministry.

Kidd’s Open Space residency will end this April, but his involvement in the artistic community of Victoria has just begun. He hopes involvement with Open Space may provide a template for future projects. “I will see what the future holds,” he says.

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