Haines Junction welcomes its first artist in residence

When Jacquelyn van Kampen flew into Whitehorse earlier this month, she started feeling inspired before the plane even touched down.

When Jacquelyn van Kampen flew into Whitehorse earlier this month, she started feeling inspired before the plane even touched down.

“Looking at the landscape coming up here, the whole time I was (pressing my) face to the window.”

The 29-year-old Toronto fashion design student will be spending the next three months getting inspired in the Yukon as Haines Junction’s first-ever artist in residence.

“When artists are around in the community it brings a certain vibrancy to the community and it inspires people maybe to do art or look more into art,” said organizer Heiko Haehnsen.

“We have kind of an artsy community. Many people don’t do it so much because they’re caught up in their jobs, but they have an artist background many times. So that’s exciting.”

Van Kampen is no stranger to travel. Four years ago she graduated with a degree in industrial design from a school in the Netherlands.

“I love going to new places and experiencing things totally fresh. Not knowing anybody and just immersing fully.”

After graduating she came back to Canada and found herself a desk job.

“Here that was what I could find and as a creative person I had a hard time with that.”

She started trying her hand in fashion and “found the thing that I’m meant to be doing.”

Van Kampen clearly sees crossover between her old career and her new foray into clothes. Her work has gone from concrete and wood to silks and cotton but she’s still building things, this time to wear.

“I love things that are tactile, so that not only I can feel it as I’m making it, but the audience can also feel it or be included somehow,” she said.

There’s the dress with a floor-length fringe skirt made entirely of alpaca wool.

In the winter of 2015, van Kampen and two other women had a $200 budget and 48 hours to complete the dress for Toronto’s runway competition, Creativ Catwalk.

They cut the donated yarn into pompoms and hand-stitched each one onto the dress.

“The point of the dress was that it feels warm. I wanted people to come up and pet the dress in a way. It’s like a living piece of art.”

Van Kampen is currently working on a spring/summer collection to be part of her school’s graduation fashion show in December. She said she has no doubt her time in Haines Junction will influence what she creates.

“For me personally, if I can find a way to connect in that way and create something out of that experience that’s a win for me,” she said.

“If I can create something that has my story and (the story of) people that I meet.”

Unlike other artist in residency programs where an artist is given a cabin or a studio to work in, van Kampen will be spending most of her time living with a local family in Haines Junction.

“I really get that people experience as opposed to being totally isolated in a cabin somewhere. Which is also a great experience, but different.”

Living with locals who are familiar with the area means she’s already getting involved in events all over the territory.

During this week’s Arts Up Front festival on Whitehorse’s waterfront, van Kampen will be running a workshop on marbling fabric and making silk scarves.

From Aug. 12 to 14, a weekend of crafting workshops will be happening in Haines Junction.

More than a dozen artists and crafters from around the territory are coming to the community to run classes like woven headbands, jewellery-making and leatherwork.

Van Kampen will be teaching a workshop on pattern drafting and fabric origami.

For more information on the weekend’s events, including the cost of workshops, contact Junctionjar@gmail.com

Haehnsen said he hopes van Kampen’s experience will lead to at least one artist in residence in Haines Junction every year.

Future residencies could focus on other types of art outside of clothing and textile, he said.

“I think this would be a very neat development for the area, to get artists in and using the beauty of the landscape we have without the need to change the landscape.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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