Marlene Creates (pronounced "Kreets") is an
and poet who lives
and works in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland, Canada. She was born in
Montreal, studied visual arts at Queen’s University in Kingston,
Ontario, and lived in Ottawa for twelve years before moving to
Newfoundland in 1985—the home of her maternal ancestors, who were from
Lewisporte and Fogo Island.
For over 35 years her work has been
exploration of the relationship between human experience, memory,
language and the land, and the impact they have on each other. In the
late 1970s she started creating temporary landworks which she
Stones and Water, 1979-1985). This led to several years of working
with what she called ‘memory maps’ which were drawn for her by other
Distance Between Two Points is Measured in Memories, 1986-1988, and
Places of Presence: Newfoundland kin and ancestral
Hearing elderly people’s stories as they
drew ‘memory maps’ for her, and sensing a relationship between language
and the land, she spent a decade photographing found public signs in
the landscape. She has also been commissioned to create signs and
markers that incorporate other people’s stories about specific places.
Currently her work is focused on the six
acres of boreal forest where she lives in a ‘relational aesthetic’ to
the land. This oeuvre consists of Water Flowing to the Sea Captured at the Speed of
Light, Blast Hole Pond River, Newfoundland 2002-2003, and two
ongoing projects: The
Boreal Poetry Garden (2005–) which uses words in situ, many
inspired by Newfoundland vernacular, and takes the form of
photo-landworks, live-art events and a web-based Virtual Walk; and Larch, Spruce, Fir,
Birch, Hand (2007–), which concerns the inter-relationship of
individual native trees, their context in the collective of the forest
system, and the human perceiver, as manifested by the gesture of the
artist’s hand touching the tree trunks.
Marlene Creates’s art practice incorporates
her work as an educator, environmentalist and community arts activist.
She has led multidisciplinary environmental and place-based art
projects with over 2,000 school children in Newfoundland. In these
projects, students explore
the particular attributes of their local environment, community and
heritage through field trips, drawing 'memory maps', photographing,
writing recollections of their own experiences, and interviewing elders
in the community.
She has devoted many years of volunteer work
to the arts community,
serving nine years on the board of Eastern Edge Gallery, ten years on
the Arts & Letters Committee of the Government of Newfoundland and
Labrador, two years on the national council of the Royal Canadian
Academy of Arts, and four years on the board of VANL-CARFAC working for
Since the 1970s her work has been presented
in over 300 solo and group exhibitions across Canada and in Ireland,
Scotland, England, France, Denmark, the USA, and China. Her video work
has been screened at festivals and conferences in Canada, Austria,
India, and the USA. She has also
curator of several exhibitions, worked in artist-run centres—SAW
Gallery in Ottawa and Eastern Edge in St. John's—and taught visual arts
at the University of Ottawa, Algonquin College and the Nova Scotia
College of Art & Design. She has been a guest lecturer at over 150
institutions and conferences, among them the National Gallery of
Canada, the Glasgow
School of Art, the University of Oxford, the University of Kent at
Canterbury, the University of Hartford, and many Canadian universities.
She was an invited panelist at the Fifth National Women in
Photography conference, held in Boston in 1997, and the keynote
presenter at the symposium Art,
Rural Life and Environmental Concern at the Bristol School of
Art, Media and Design at the University of the West of England in 2008.
Her work is in numerous public collections
including The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery in St. John’s, the Canada
Council Art Bank, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, and
the National Gallery of Canada.
Marlene Creates received the 1996 Artist of
the Year Award from the Newfoundland & Labrador Arts
first visual artist to receive this award. In 2001 she was elected
to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. In 2009 she received The Long Haul Award for Excellence in Visual Arts
(EVAs) from VANL-CARFAC, "which recognizes a substantial contribution
to the visual culture of Newfoundland and Labrador by a senior artist,"
and the 2009 CARFAC National Visual
Award "for an outstanding contribution to visual arts advocacy."
In 2013 she received the BMW Exhibition Prize, which acknowledges "an
outstanding Open or Featured exhibition" in the Scotiabank CONTACT
Photography Festival in Toronto. In 2014 she won the Grand Jury Award
at the Yosemite International Film Festival.
- Full Curriculum Vitae