Mount Allison welcomes Tara Bursey as first Lassonde Artist-in-Residence
SACKVILLE, NB — The Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts at Mount Allison University has welcomed Tara Bursey as its first Lassonde Artist-in-Residence this month. Bursey, an interdisciplinary artist and museum educator from Hamilton, ON, will be on campus working with students and faculty members over the six-month residency.
“I am thrilled to be at Mount Allison as the inaugural Lassonde Artist in Residence,” says Bursey. “I look forward to working and connecting with students and faculty members, sharing art and experiences. I feel well-equipped to make connections and build mentorships, even through the unpredictability of COVID.”
Leah Garnett, Associate Professor and Head of the Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts, says Bursey’s presence and mentorship will enrich the student experience as they build and evolve their own artistic practices at Mount Allison.
“Learning from artists and curators such as Tara is a wonderful opportunity for both our students and the wider artistic community,” says Garnett. “I am so pleased to welcome her to campus as the first Lassonde Artist in Residence.”
Selected from nearly 60 applicants for the residency, Bursey’s artistic work is influenced by a keen interest and background in labour history and working-class identity. Over the course of the residency, she will draw from personal experiences in art production, mentorship, gallery education, programming, and curatorial practice to develop a project on campus.
“I’m very interested in the visual culture and language of Canada’s labour movement and intersections between art and activism. I study the connections between material culture of the labour movement and contemporary art. I am particularly interested in trade union banners, how they are used, and what they communicate,” says Bursey. “Labour and working conditions affect us all broadly, across sectors. This is even more evident in the pandemic where issues of workplace health and safety have become even more critical.”
Bursey has worked as an educator and programmer at the Art Gallery of Burlington and the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre; a curatorial assistant at the Textile Museum of Canada and Artscape Youngplace. She has worked in curatorial capacity for the City of Hamilton, Hamilton Supercrawl, Craft Ontario, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and the Wychwood Barns Community Association.
In addition to her curatorial and education work, Bursey maintains an active art practice. Working across media, her artwork has been exhibited across Canada as well as in Denmark, Germany, and the U.K., She has presented her research in the areas of textiles and contemporary art at conferences and events throughout Canada and the U.S.
A graduate of the Toronto School of Art and OCAD University, Bursey has also worked in several capacities focusing on arts education, including partnering with Hamilton-area elementary schools and curating exhibitions about zines and professional wrestling.
Bursey first visited the Mount Allison and Sackville community in 2019 for the Handmade Assembly, a community event brought together artists, curators, and others co-organized by the Owens Art Gallery, Struts Gallery and Faucet Media Centre, with the support of Mount Allison’s Fine Arts Department.
“The Assembly was a great way to get to know more about the artistic and wider local community in Sackville,” says Bursey. “Since then I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that if I saw another opportunity to return, I would try to take it.”
Bursey says she looks forward to connecting with Mount Allison students and faculty members and learning more about their individual artistic practices.
“Art has the capacity to communicate and empower us. It can really be a unifying force and I believe artists serve society through the work they create,” she says.
The Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts is focused on the research, creation, histories, and practices of the visual arts. Study in the School of Fine Arts is led by practicing artists and art historians in courses designed and coordinated to establish a strong foundation in all facets of the visual arts. The Lassonde Artist-in-Residency runs from January – June each year. (mta.ca/lassondeschool)