Helen is an inter/transdisciplinary artist, researcher and consultant. She makes installations, interactions, and interventions. She designs environments, exhibitions, and performances (theatre, dance, digital, or live art). She writes research reports, and consults on projects for public and private funders, and really anyone with money, or not. She understands this as ‘institution-adjacent’ work, which is good or bad depending on how you feel about neighbours. These days, Helen is preoccupied with the question of What Art Knows, which is the title of a book she is writing. The book draws on her experiences as an artist engaged in civic actions, and an ongoing dialogue with the Mowat NFP and others about the role of artists in informing and shaping public policymaking. In her work with newcomers to Canada, Helen tries to transform conventional approaches to settlement, by leading with what art knows, or looking at what art has to offer immigration. Blending performance, conceptual art, and social R&D, Helen describes her work with immigrants and refugees as a ‘semi-useful construct’ for exploring notions of decent work for newcomers and artists.
Helen is an artist-researcher with the Culture of Cities Centre, a board member with the Centre for Social Innovation, and a Salzburg Global Fellow. For over a decade, Helen has contributed to civic actions and cultural policy thinking at the municipal, provincial, national, and international levels. Obviously, this means she is poor AF. Her newcomers work has successfully helped newcomers who have experienced difficulties getting a job in Canada become employed fulltime in their field of interest, and been supported by Canada Council for the Arts, CultureLink, Centre for Social Innovation, Humber College, Ontario Arts Council, Kresge Foundation, Dreamwalker Dance Company, and Luminato.
There’s a book that’s called The Art of Possibility that says in the face of this kind of strangeness you’re supposed to throw your hands up in the air and say, “how wonderful!”