When Toronto-based artist Heidi McKenzie toured Medicine Hat’s I-XL Brick and Tile Factory, it invoked memories of her father working the Stelco brick furnaces of Hamilton. Heidi, who is a seasoned ceramic artist, happened to encounter the I-XL factory during her 2019 residency at Medalta’s International Artists in Residence Program.
Heidi’s father is of Indo-Trinidadian descent, and the memories of him working the brick furnaces prompted several questions in her mind: had local Indigenous people or immigrant persons of colour laboured at the Medicine Hat brick and clay factories, and if so, had their experiences been documented? The subsequent research later became the foundation of Heidi’s installation, on now until August 20 at the Esplanade Art & Heritage Centre in Medicine Hat.
Brick by Brick: Absence vs. Presence is a multi-facetted art exhibit featuring historical and contemporary photographs, ceramic sculpture, and a host of multi-media elements. Heidi joined CKUA’s Lisa Wilton to discuss the history behind the installation, and how she combined various audio and visual elements to create Brick by Brick: