News / Edmonton

Art among the dead: Edmonton photographer chosen as first artist-in-residence for cemeteries

Photographer Candace Makowichuk talks with Metro about the eerie opportunity.

Candace Makowichuk is the city's new cemetery artist-in-residence.

Kevin Tuong/For Metro

Candace Makowichuk is the city's new cemetery artist-in-residence.

“Moody” and “nostalgic” are two words Candace Makowichuk brings up when talking about her photographs.

It makes sense, then, that she will spend the next six months working in a cemetery.  

The Edmonton Arts Council has chosen Makowichuk to be the first City of Edmonton Cemeteries artist-in-residence, which will see her stationed at a “nice and bright” studio space in Mount Pleasant – in the same building that holds niches for cremated remains.

Makowichuk describes her work as a merging of the modern and the old, using a combination of digital photography and historical processing methods.  

She will make her rounds across seven local cemeteries throughout the six months, taking photographs at each, and host workshops for employees.

Metro spoke with Makowichuk about her art and the advantages of making a living among the dead.

Q: What made you want to apply for this residency?

A: “I’ve always loved cemeteries. I kind of have a bit of a weird interest in them. I can remember being a young girl and riding my bike with friends and we would always go check out the cemeteries.

“It’s the people and the stories and those memories and bringing some of those to life, and then also there’s something very tranquil about the spaces. The city does a really remarkable job maintaining them and making them have this kind of park-like atmosphere. It will be a quiet kind of place, very contemplative.”

Q: It seems like the process you put your photos through is pretty involved.

A: “Yes. With modern photography, I know a lot of people who are spending just as much time in Photoshop working on a final print as you used to spend in the dark room, so I’m just taking a bit of a different approach. But it is very methodical.

“The other thing I like about the historical photography and working with the film is there’s a lot of my movement in it.”

Q: What do you hope the work you make during the residency will be used for?

A: “There will be an exhibition at the end, so I will have to make arrangements for where I’m going to host that. And also would really like to do a photo book of each site.”

Q: Can you speak to how helpful it is to have such a long residency?

A: “It’s huge. I’ve had project grants in the past, but usually even with those, I’ve always had other things on the go, because most times that’s just covering the cost of your materials and little bits here and there.

“But this opportunity is extremely valuable because I can just throw myself entirely into my work for a six-month period, without having to worry about making ends meet.”

Answers have been edited for space.

A fitting piece from Makowichuk's Kalyna Country series.

Supplied/Candace Makowichuk

A fitting piece from Makowichuk's Kalyna Country series.

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