ESTEVAN - Ruth Langwieser says it’s been an “awesome year” for her as the artist in residence at the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum.
The residency for Langwieser, who is a Swiss-Canadian ceramicist, wrapped up in the spring. She split her time between working in the community and developing her own practice, including the exhibit Mania Plastica, which is currently on display at the EAGM’s Gallery No. 2.
“I was so happy and so much was going on, and had so many places to go to, and working with different people, I really am very, very thrilled,” said Langwieser of her residency.
There were many different activities. Last summer, she led workshops at an art tent at Woodlawn Regional Park.
She was also part of the community project, Lucy’s Winter Coat, that was displayed at the Christmas Festival of Lights at the park.
“I’ve never done an installation like Lucy’s Winter Coat down at Woodlawn. I’ve never done anything of that size.”
At the start of 2022, she had a series of art courses, classes and workshops that she called Ceramic 101 at the gallery. She taught basic ceramic techniques to participants.
“It was an intense beginning of the year, and then I was preparing these pieces,” she said, referring to Mania Plastica.
Langwieser was pleased with how much she was able to do in the community despite the challenges of COVID-19.
She evolved as an artist during her time with the EAGM.
A reception for Mania Plastica was held June 9 at the EAGM as part of the organization’s Arts Night.
“It’s really over the top. I’m really happy and really thrilled and pleased with everything,” said Langwieser.
According to an EAGM statement, Mania Plastica is an installation consisting of a series of handcrafted genetically mutated flora and fauna creatures. The artworks are composed of recycled plastic materials and porcelain paper clay combinations.
While clay is a very durable substance that has been around for a long time, plastics are relatively new, Langwieser said. And she finds that western society cannot stop creating waste. She sees people throwing away plastics every day, and she knows she is guilty of it, too.
“Where do they go, these plastic bottles? Where do they end up? We don’t know. Some are recycled. But we have gotten rid of so many. We have a huge pollution problem.”
Langwieser and her husband are beachcombers and they collect thrown-away bottles.
“The imagination for me is yeah, we throw the plastic away, and then it’s getting out of our control. What does the environment do with this plastic waste?”
The plastic items used in this exhibition were collected from the artist and the community.
EAGM director-curator Amber Andersen noted that throughout the past year, Langwieser has worked to be part of the community.
“Ruth has been a cornerstone of our programing and a delight for everyone who is working through her outreach during the last year,” Andersen said.
Langwieser also expressed thanks to Andersen and gallery programmer Karly Garnier for giving her structure and support, and allowing her to experiment with new materials and new ways of looking at things.
“So it really made it possible for me to go through these kinds of ups and downs that you have when you are creating,” said Langwieser.
Her husband was really helpful with the lighting for Mania Plastica, too.
And while her term as the artist in residence is over, she won’t be leaving the community. Langwieser has lived in Estevan since 2019, and looks forward to remaining here.
She will slow down, but since she is a member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council, she will continue to work on her art.
“I have ideas, but I cannot tell yet,” she said. “I will continue working with porcelain, paper, clay and plastic.”
The Saskatchewan Arts Board provided the grant for Langweiser’s residency.