In operation since 2015, Whitehorse’s Jenni House provides studio space for all kinds of artists from the Yukon, as well as NWT, Nunavut and Northern BC, to undergo residencies and work on their craft. This spring, the Jenni house welcomed musician Paris Pick, who is working on writing new songs out of the Chambers House in Whitehorse; and Martha Ritchie, who is working remotely, printing on repurposed clothing and other textiles, from her own studio in Haines Junction, as resident artists.
Musician Paris Pick and textile artist Martha Ritchie working as Jenni House residents this month
“I have seen and heard news and interviews of Jenni House resident artists over the years and been interested and curious,” said Ritchie. “When I saw the call for applications, I jumped.”
Ritchie said she enjoys residency situations because they give her time to focus solely on her art. While in the past, she has found working elsewhere as a resident artist exciting because of the change in environment, she’s happy to be working from home during the pandemic, so she decided to take advantage of the Jenni House residency’s remote work offer.
Pick, on the other hand, is looking forward to being in an unfamiliar place, to challenge herself to come up with new songs in a different setting than what she is used to. The musician has big plans for the summer, with festival appearances in BC, Saskatchewan, Alberta and even the UK, with her band. With a busy summer and plans to possibly pack up and head down to Nelson, BC, for music school in the fall, getting some time blocked off just to write new songs is an opportunity Pick was happy to take.
“I feel like every year this happens, where winter is dead and nothing is happening, then spring creeps along and all of a sudden I’m booked until fall,” she said. “It’s like, what the heck–where did my summer just go?”
With the songs she is writing during her residency, Pick has decided to try something new. While writing is usually a personal and cathartic experience, wherein she vents her current emotions onto paper, this time she is leaning more into concept-writing territory.
“I’ll write out a list of key ideas for a song and then try and write around that idea,” she explained. “It’s nice to be able to try and get more witty with things, or not as literal.”
Ritchie, who called herself a relief printmaker, creates art by carving printing blocks from linoleum and printing them onto various surfaces. She has been working with images from the Boreal Forest for the past few years, and her work has progressed from two-dimensional prints on paper, to textile printing and three-dimensional paper sculptures.
“I have been working to combine the three different aspects of my printmaking practice into one body of work,” she said. “My goal is to use my time at the Jenni House to create a series of clothing items from my prints.”
So far, the majority of Ritche’s effort has gone into assembling a skirt from repurposed fabrics, which is hand-printed and painted to represent the forest floor. She says her completed work can raise the question as to how we choose our clothes to express ourselves and send signals to the outside world.
The Jenni House program is organized by ArtsNet and is supported by several Yukon-based arts organizations, including the Yukon Arts Centre, Yukon Film Society, Jazz Yukon and Music Yukon. To learn more about the Jenni House artist residencies, visit https://yukonartscentre.com/artist_opportunities/the-jenni-house-artist-residency-in-whitehorse.
Both Ritchie and Pick have big plans beyond their residencies, so make sure to keep up with them on social media as well.
“At this point, I’m just nervous and excited and hoping everything works out okay,” said Pick.