SCA News

Posted on 03 Jun 2013 in

- SFU Graduand Engages Community Through Art

Visual Art Student Andrea Creamer

Raised in Ladysmith, Andrea Creamer, a visual arts graduand in Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA), hails from small town British Columbia.

But her boundless passion for making art accessible to disadvantaged communities and creating art that incites public discussion is leading her to create a big footprint in community engagement in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Creamer’s initially small-town view that visual arts has limited career options led her to pursue a diploma in community recreation programming at Langara College.

But then a stint working on literacy programs for new immigrants and Aboriginal people through 2010 Legacies Now exposed her to discussions about art and public spaces, hosted by SFU’s School of Communication.

That ignited Creamer’s five-year pursuit of relational aesthetics, also called socially engaged art practice, at SFU’s SCA. The field marries the study of art history and the creation of art with meaningful social engagement to spark social and economic improvement at a community grassroots level.

Following some mentoring by Am Johal, community engagement coordinator, Vancity Office of Community Engagement, SFU Woodwards Cultural Unit, Creamer started coordinating SFU’s involvement in community projects such as Contemporary Arts 101 and Community Journalism 101.

Offered in conjunction with community partners, the courses, respectively, help downtown eastside residents engage directly with artists through a speaker series and gain journalistic writing and reporting skills, which they parlay into published work.

“Andrea has been instrumental in building relationships between Downtown Eastside residents and the SFU community,” says Johal. “Her support of community projects has been exemplary and her artistic practice brings a social aesthetic that comes from a rooted understanding of what it means to produce art in such a complex neighbourhood context.”

Creamer’s relentless questioning of people’s socio-political experience of public places and what she views as governments’ colonial-based regulation of public and private property inspired her to pepper several Vancouver parks with her trademark art. 

Her strategically placed vinyl-text installations, posters and other graphic work seek to engage passersby to contemplate the ironies and paradoxes that underlie many municipal park regulations. 

“I often find myself exploring political and social justice conversations of space, land, language and commodity culture,” says Creamer.

“For example, why are there physical barriers in parks that often prevent people from comfortably sitting on a park bench to enjoy their scenic surrounding?”

Like Johal, Sabine Bitter, one of Creamer’s SFU visual arts professors, credits the graduand with exemplifying student engagement at its best and making a significant mark in the relational aesthetics art field.

 “I am convinced that Andrea will continue to work on the forefront of this artistic field and drive its limits further. Likewise I am sure that we will hear of Andrea's work for many years and that she will make a place for herself within Canadian art.”

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.