Brick by Brick: Absence VS Presence, by Toronto-based artist Heidi McKenzie, is a multifaceted installation featuring historical and contemporary photographs, augmented reality, ceramic sculpture, video, and sound projection.
The daughter of Indo-Trinidadian and Irish American parents, Heidi rooted this new body of work in sentimental, ancestral exploration sparked by her 2019 residency at Medalta’s International Artists in Residence Program here in Medicine Hat. During her residency, she toured the former I-XL factory, which brought to the surface memories of her father’s experience working the brick furnaces at Stelco in Hamilton, Ontario, in the fifties.
These personal memories ignited inquiries into whether local Indigenous people or immigrant persons of colour worked at the brick and clay factories in Medicine Hat, and if so, what was documented in regard to those experiences? The findings of this research were the conceptual foundation of this work, which thoughtfully combines historical and contemporary content into a visual manifestation inspired by Heidi’s familial past and Medicine Hat’s industrial history.
Artist Bio Heidi McKenzie is a Toronto-based ceramic artist. In 2009, she left a 20-year career in arts management and radio producing to apprentice in her father’s ancestral home with India’s foremost studio potter, Mini Singh (a student of Bernard Leach). Heidi returned to Canada and completed her diploma at Sheridan College in 2012 and subsequently her MFA in Curatorial Practice and Art Criticism at OCAD University in 2014.
Heidi has exhibited nationally and internationally, including biennales in Romania, Hungary, Australia and at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). Her work is currently touring Europe as part of the “best of” exhibitions with Cluj Biennial and Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Centre. Heidi is an advocate for BIPOC and marginalized artists, an active arts journalist, ceramic arts reviewer and is a board director for NCECA.