An image of Brandy Dahrouge
Photo credit: Don Lee

Brandy Dahrouge

Calgary Arts Development's Director of Public Art sees art as an opportunity to build community

Cherie McMaster

A self-proclaimed lifelong learner, Brandy Dahrouge was born in Calgary and considers herself fortunate to have grown up around Treaty 7 territory. Her artistic practices include music, specifically classical piano, which she studied at Red Deer College, as well as visual arts and photography at the University of Calgary, and media arts at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. It is with this background that Dahrouge has returned to her hometown to take on the role of director of public art at Calgary Arts Development. 

“I think when people think of public art they often think of public space, a space that is open to everyone that holds collective memories, that holds maybe a collective identity that is something that is very publicly open… but I think what public art is, for me, is it’s often a reflection of how we see ourselves, how we see the world, of how an artist thinks about the time that we’re in. It’s a reflection of a multitude of voices for a multitude of publics. It can be not only sculpture, it could be video, projection, performance, it could be an action…. For me it’s this coming together of an artist, an artistic way of thinking, and also an artistic problem solving and community. It is a nebulous sort of thing, it’s beyond just a sculpture, it’s beyond something that’s available 24/7 and not in a gallery or not in a private space, it’s really a conversation about how we see ourselves.”

In her public art role, Dahrouge now finds herself supporting other artists and enabling them to express and tell their stories — and she approaches this opportunity with excitement. 

To offer some examples of what public art can be, Dahrouge shared links to a few of her favourite projects:

2Up 2Down/Homebaked 2010 — ongoing: A bakery, community land trust and affordable housing project initiated by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, commissioned by the Liverpool Biennial.
https://homebaked.org.uk
https://vimeo.com/140601794

70 x 70 The Meal Act XXXIV, Philadelphia 2013: A community meal for 900 participants in downtown Philadelphia by artists Lucy + Jorge Orta, commissioned by The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts program.
https://www.studio-orta.com/en/artwork/284/70-x-7-the-meal-act-xxxiv-philadelphia-2013

Mobility Device, 2013: Artist Carmen Papalia replaces his white cane with a marching band as his mobility device to explore public space— this public art project has been performed around the world, from Santa Ana, California to The Highline in New York City. 
https://www.thehighline.org/art/projects/carmen-papalia/

Listen to this week’s podcast to hear more about Brandy Dahrouge’s thoughts around public art and the exciting direction the Public Art Program is headed. 

About The Storytelling Podcast

Sharing diverse stories of creativity in our city, The Storytelling Podcast shines a spotlight on artists and projects that connect Calgarians to the arts.

Part of The Storytelling Project, this series raises awareness about Calgarians who, by living creative lives, are making Calgary a better city, effecting positive change and enriching others’ lives.

Have a story to share? Email us at submissions@calgaryartsdevelopment.com.

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