An unmasked grind culture: Arts Matters workshop

Portrait of Lance Kenneth Blakney a filmmaker and photographer based in Fredericton, New Brunswick. (Submitted: Mag Hood)

In the Arts Matters workshop, UNB Media Artist-in-Residence offered insight into overcoming the idea of imperfection in creativity and the power of visual storytelling.  

On March 23, University of New Brunswick events presented an Arts Matters workshop titled “Navigating the Artistic Process: The Good, The Bad, and The Mediocre.” This workshop was hosted by the UNB Media Artist-in-Residence and filmmaker/photographer, Lance Kenneth Blakney.

The event featured installations, guest lectures and workshops. It also aimed to foster visual storytelling in an ever-changing social and political landscape.

”I love talking about creativity,” he said. “Just not presenting our creativity but overcoming imperfection in creativity.”

Blakney said he feels in the academic setting imperfection is not a often topic of discussion and most of the time not celebrated nor tolerated.

The workshop was more conversational, where he shared anecdotes that prompted deeper conversations. And once the participant felt more comfortable they could start asking questions.

Blakney, a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, is passionate about representations of underrepresented groups in visual mediums.

He said the role of representation is something that he takes very “seriously in visual arts, whether it be photography or videography, or even just like a story editing, storytelling perspective.”

For him, it’s important to represent underrepresented groups and promote authentic storytelling even when the workshop is not specifically talking about representation for equity.

“It’s still very much infused in every level of the decision making process,” he said. “We wanted to make sure people whose stories are being told, like they’re the ones with agency over the story, we’re trying to lift that up.”

The workshop became a reminder that visual storytelling can contribute to social and political change.

However, Blakney said authenticity isn’t an inherent part of visual media and pop culture films are an example of that.

“I believe that authentic storytelling can really change the world,” he said.

Through the Arts Matters workshop, he hopes people get to practice more “self love and kindness” in this creative process where it is possible to experience different challenges such as creativity burn out.

“I was very guilty of that for most of my 20s that grind culture.”

Although Blakney describes New Brunswick as a “vibrant community,” he also makes emphasis on how integrating self-respect and self-presentation into one’s approach to work is essential for well-being and sustainability.

“Don’t be afraid of failure. I think striving for perfection is something that gets in everyone’s way,” he said. “I think it is very important to try new things and not everything you’re doing is going to change the world, and that’s okay. But if you can help people along the way and make really cool things; that’s what’s most important.”