Introducing Artist in Residence Group 31


We are pleased to introduce a hard-working group of folks, the latest cohort of artists to journey through the Artist in Residence program at Artbeat Studio.  Congratulations to the artists of Group 31; we're excited for the future ahead with you all.



Stay tuned for more opportunities to get to know our artists!

Abigail Wall



Abigail Wall, born in Winnipeg, grew up in a household of six adoptees from diverse backgrounds, “warrior-women who carried pain in their eyes.” She says that in La Salle, MB – where she was the first black kid – it was her aboriginal siblings who really took care of her. She later studied acting and has done stand-up comedy and improv. She also studied classical voice (Conservatory, Grade 8) and has more recently sung jazz and written songs.

About five years ago, she added painting to her repertoire – and so far has had three solo shows – but in this domain she is self-taught. She paints in acrylic on canvas using ink splatters as highlights. Abby says early influences include Japanese anime, the work of pin-up illustrator Gil Elvgren, and Archie comic characters Betty & Veronica. Her twist on these precedents is to embody the personalities of “women I can recognize in all shapes and sizes,” including especially women of colour, whom she considers under-represented in art. Where she portrays partial nudity, it is not to focus on sex, but to better explore human form and movement. Her colours are bright and her backgrounds vibrant, ranging from cosmic, to psychedelic, to plaids reminiscent of traditional Jamaican bandana or madras patterns. “I’m an extrovert,” Abby says, “so painting is my company when no one’s around. I’m prolific, and will stick with a project for twelve hours at a time. Art heals and feeds me.”

photo by Joanie Peters | bio by Michael Rennie

Download a printable pdf of Abby's bio here!

Christine Girard



Christine Girard, born in Winnipeg in 1990, made cards and other crafts from an early age. When she was 15, her Mum got her started crocheting. Some years later, also with help from her Mum and subsequent learning from YouTube, she expanded her craft to include knitting. She finds traditional patterns on line for such crocheted and knitted classics as towel-toppers and Grandma’s Favourite Dishcloth. “I like to make stuff that is useful,” says Christine, “and I try to do a good job of replicating the traditional patterns.” However, she sometimes designs her own patterns or modifies traditional ones to make them simpler and more economical of yarn. Her products include towel rings, coasters, potholders, and Christmas ornaments. She hopes to expand into making other items and also to learn to weave.

Meanwhile, Christine is a fibre artist with social commitment, who sits on CMHA’s National Youth Advisory Council. Far from profiting monetarily from her fibre art, she has been donating the products of her work to Winnipeg Child and Family Services. Christine adds, “I’m dedicated to this work. It helps direct my mind toward something positive. Whenever I’m sitting, I’ll most likely have a hook or needles in hand.”

photo by Joanie Peters | bio by Michael Rennie

Download a printable pdf of Christine's bio here!

Colin Valen



Colin Valen, born in Winnipeg in 1993, won high school Remembrance Day poetry contests several years in a row. After a hiatus, he picked up writing again three years ago on what he feels is a more mature basis. His life experience in the meantime included barn work and being a swamper (heavy lifter) for a moving company. “I have deliberately developed my style in a vacuum,” says Colin, but he is influenced by his admiration for Dante along with Greek and Nordic myths, Tolkien, and what he calls the “dark romanticism” of H P Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. Colin says he emphasizes circularity of narrative, and uses rhyme “compulsively,” all perhaps to echo the flavour of ancient sagas. His work, in a variety of challenging settings from the Old West to the northern tundra, ranges from short poems to some that run to 20 pages. Personal themes include longing, madness, despair, corruption, unrequited love, and the power of womanhood for both good and evil. Adds Colin, “Such themes can lead my poetry to reflect with demented glee upon human viciousness, violence, and the macabre – all of which can finally result in a break with traditional morality.” While reflecting a measure of darkness in his poetry, Colin says he’s protective of children and his friends in real life. “I’d like to be a buffer between them and the horrors of human experience.”

bio by Michael Rennie

Download a printable pdf of Colin's bio here!

Deborah Haliburt



Deborah Haliburton, born in 1958 in BC, grew up in Nova Scotia. Her writer father wanted her to become a writer. She has written in earnest since her twenties and honed her skills in creative writing classes at the University of Winnipeg and workshops with the Canadian Authors Association. She also studied Creative Communications for a time at Red River College. She mentions Leonard Cohen and “New Thought” philosophy as influences. In line with this, she works at focusing on inspirational writing, with a view to eschewing negative thoughts and dwelling on all that’s good and beautiful. When she must deal with difficult issues, she imbues her work with a kind of bold honesty that she resolves with hopeful endings. Her poetry has been published in Transition, a magazine from the Saskatchewan CMHA – and in a self-published chapbook titled Come Morning.

Deborah started drawing more recently and without training, so she considers her visual work folk or “outsider” art. In this, she has been inspired by fellow Nova Scotian Maude Lewis. She puts coloured pencil to paper, adding occasional watercolour highlights to bold and totemic subjects. Deborah seeks beauty in nature, and sees spirit and message in its transformations and cycles. She finds her non-verbal visual art free from the blocks that sometimes challenge writing. She adds, “Making art is therapeutic, soothing… and I like the end result.”

photo by Joanie Peters | bio by Michael Rennie

Download a printable pdf of Deborah's bio here!

Jef Barnes



Jef Barnes was born in Kelowna, BC in 1974. He was always interested in some form of art. He was drawing at age 4, and by his twenties, he was line-drawing tattoo designs and comic books. He obtained a degree in Business Administration and is a certified medical lab assistant. Meanwhile, he remained a fan of monochrome drawings, and has continued to draw in pencil, pencil crayon, India ink, and pigment pens – including some close-up portraits. Last year, however, he discovered that painting came to him naturally “as if I was born to it.” In lieu of formal training, he did rigorous research to teach himself anatomy, colour theory, and other aspects of technique. His main work now is with acrylics on canvas. “I’m strong on colour theory, so the way I construct my palette is rather original,” says Jef. He adds that his style is still evolving, but his current landscapes and streetscapes – while painterly – show evidence of a competent grasp of line and clear echoes of the Group of Seven, Emily Carr, and the Fauves.

Jef jokes that he’s an old-school punk-rock goalie. “Music, the one thing that can really elevate you, is always in my head,” he adds. “Other than hockey, nothing has made me as happy as my painting has. It centres me and makes me feel accomplished. This is why I pursue it with persistence and commitment.”

bio by Michael Rennie

Download a printable pdf of Jef's bio here!

Rubén Trudeau



Rubén Trudeau, born in Winnipeg in 1983, sees himself as a new kind of stand-up monologist who also draws portraits, all “to foster a conversation.” His career goal is to pioneer a form of stand-up that’s not pure comedy and is much more interactive and immersive than mere monologue. Says Rubén, “I aim to be the least well-known person ever to host SNL.” For now, he frequents open mikes at bars but gets more appreciation at ‘artsier’ locations. This challenging métier helps him laugh at himself, while initiating serious conversations with others about society. It also helps him – as an introvert – to “get social.”

When he draws portraits and somewhat cartoony caricatures, the goal is the same. “They talk and I draw,” he says. “Some of their personality comes out, perhaps more than they intend. The drawing itself only takes about 15 minutes, and it’s as much about the conversation as the product, which I give to the subject or keep for myself.” Rubén’s medium is pen and India ink or ball pen on whatever paper comes to hand. He admires the pen-and-ink drawings of Winnipeg/New York artist Marcel Dzama, and is conditioned by comics and cartoons like Ren & Stimpy and Ninja Turtles, “but I’m not super-influenced by any one style.” Rubén adds, “Laughter, approval, and dialogue are related. So, with my drawing, as with my stand-up, people get something out of it even if they don’t laugh.”

photo by Joanie Peters | bio by Michael Rennie

Download a printable pdf of Rubén's bio here!

Serena Elizabeth



Serena Elizabeth was born in Winnipeg in 2001. Her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were all artists when they were younger. Not surprisingly, at age 10, Serena was creating finger art portraying mountains and other scenery, and to this day, she likes to create art that’s in a “happy place,” she says. “I believe everyone’s an artist, because even living life is an art; and I have my own personal take on that.” In addition to creating, Serena has worked as an art room helper and especially enjoys volunteering with elders, with whom she has been able to make a strong connection.

Serena’s current work is mostly acrylic on canvas, with the occasional addition of ink. She uses semi-abstract shapes and patterns, for which she considers that the underlying totemic subjects of flora and fauna are secondary. Serena puts lucid dreaming to work in her art, and believes in the power of shapes. All the same, she says she does not attempt a one-to-one match between meaning and shape as a symbolist might; rather, there’s a ‘trickster’ element to what’s represented on the canvas. “Unity of your mind with your environment results from a life that holds colour; this has the power to make peace and foster mental health. I try to make this concept of unity come together to show what a happy place looks like,” she adds.

photo by Joanie Peters | bio by Michael Rennie

Download a printable pdf of Serena's bio here!

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