08.12.20 Salt Spell

Third Space Connects With THIRD SHIFT 2020 Artist Christiana Myers

Christiana Myers is a Saint John-based curator, writer, artist, and museum educator born of settler ancestry. She holds a BFA from Mount Allison University and an MLitt Curatorial Practice from the Glasgow School of Art. Her practice often explores human form and function, specifically physical and communication-based limitations.

For THIRD SHIFT 2020, Christiana is preparing to install Salt Spell – sponsored by Tuck Studio – on August 23 in Uptown Saint John by the Marco Polo Cruise Terminal, where you can view her project between August 23-26. Shout out to Port Saint John for hosting Salt Spell!

What inspires you as an artist?

Christiana Myers: To me, the most interesting thing about art is the ability to create connections. I think this is why a lot of the time in my work , whether it’s writing, curating, or art-making, I like to explore things that are disconnected–bodies experiencing illness, dysfunction in human relationships, or lapses in our relationship to the natural environment–to see how concepts can be brought together to be better understood.  

What can you tell us about your THIRD SHIFT project, Salt Spell?

CM: Salt is an ancient mineral that over the course of millennia has been assigned many practical applications and symbolic meanings ranging from a mined resource, to a form of currency, and as an important element in ceremonies and superstitions across cultures. Salt Spell will comprise a durational performance and drawing installation made of salt situated at the edge of the Saint John Harbour that will emulate a magic circle—an elaborately patterned design used to delineate a protected area in the practice of ritual magic. Salt’s material connection to landscape, labour, and safekeeping are pertinent to contemporary Saint John. As a coastal city with vital marine environments; a city underpinned by industry and trade; and as a centre where the environment, heritage and—in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and innumerable acts of injustice—citizens, deserve safeguarding, salt is emblematic of collective care and collective faith.

What inspired Salt Spell?

CM: My THIRD SHIFT project, which has a lot to do with protection and natural materials, was initially inspired by some creative projects I was working on related to environmental conservation in Saint John. Then, when everything shut down due to COVID-19 and we were seeing countless injustices in the news, it felt even more relevant to propose a project based on hope and safe-keeping.

What do you love most about contemporary art?

CM: I love that contemporary art has the capacity to frame or reframe political and social issues in critical and creative ways. 

How did you get started with creating contemporary art?

CM: I got started with contemporary art while I was completing my Bachelor of Fine Arts at Mount Allison University. 

What do you love most about the contemporary art community in Saint John and the Maritimes?

CM: The art world can be extremely exclusionary, but what I love about the community in Atlantic Canada and Saint John in particular is that so many people are able to be artists. THIRD SHIFT exhibits work by people who don’t have contemporary art backgrounds, or–like myself–haven’t had the most active art-exhibiting practice lately, and I think that ultimately makes the festival stronger and more accessible. 

What is your favourite part of THIRD SHIFT?

CM: My favourite part of THIRD SHIFT is the way that it allows people to not only re-think what their idea of art is but also re-think the city of Saint John and all of its potential that is sometimes hidden in its nooks and crannies. 

What do you hope viewers of Salt Spell will take away from the durational performance? What do you hope they will take away from viewing the drawing itself?

CM: I know I’m really looking forward to spending a day working with my hands and with a new medium. I was doing so many things virtually for so long (as I’m sure many people were) that working on something laborious and messy is really exciting. I hope people will get to appreciate the sensory experience of the performance and the installation–seeing the salt be poured and smelling the harbour air. As for the drawing itself, I hope it is seen as a gesture of care from me to the community and to the landscape. 

What do you anticipate being the biggest challenge when installing Salt Spell?

CM: I just hope it’s not too windy on installation day!

You can find Christiana’s installation, Salt Spell, by the Marco Polo Cruise Terminal in Uptown Saint John from August 23-26, and you won’t want to miss watching the installation happen live on August 23 from 10am-3pm! To see more of her work, check out Christiana’s website, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Learn more about THIRD SHIFT 2020’s artists and installations here.