It’s been almost six months since I left The Banff Centre as a work study. While living in Banff, I was often making work through rubbings from spaces in town or in Glyde Hall as a way to familiarize myself with this place and to make it more my home. The process of rubbing initiates a certain level of intimacy with an object that you wouldn’t normally have. You become familiar with the scrapes and dings on a stool, or how the edges of a table are so much smoother where the finish has worn off. It’s a way to take a space from just being the place you are, to a place you can think of as familiar.
The Walter Phillips Gallery invited me to lead a spring workshop earlier in April as part of springstART, leading a group though different spaces downtown. It was thought of as a way to help people see the parts of Banff that are often overlooked, as well as an invitation to think about alternative ways to create artwork. My art practice is based on alternative methods of printmaking, often making work from found materials or things that are found outside of the traditional art supply stores. One of the works I made while in Banff was a rubbing of a large picnic table at the recreation grounds. After, I traced over the print with ink. The piece was a record of the condition of the frequently used table, but by drawing over it, by altering the image, I was able to claim it.
Twenty people signed up for the day, and thirty people joined us at the Banff Park Museum Saturday afternoon, despite the wet spring weather. There were several families, as well as Banff Centre employees, locals, and travelers who participated. Nobody was afraid to really explore Banff. For me, this workshop was a great reason to come back to Banff. It also gave me the chance to step back from my work, to see people discover the materials I spend so much of my time with.
Sarah McKarney is an Edmonton-based artist who works with alternative printmaking materials. Previously a Banff Centre work study, McKarney was recently invited back to the Centre to run Rubbing Off: A printmaking workshop as part of springstART programming.