Michael Boss – 2021 Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency

Visual artist Michael Boss has made it his mission to document over 250 Ukrainian churches across Manitoba.

Returning to the Deep Bay cabin for a third time, Michael has visited over 25 sites surrounding Riding Mountain Nation Park so far.

“My goal is to create a collection of drawings of each of the churches I have visited, as well as those which no longer exist (as I am able to find archived images of the latter),” said Michael.

In this ongoing project, Michael uses the photographs as a reference tool, then creates elevation drawings of each church by hand – all sides, as well as a top view. Michael says he has visited and documented over 200 of these sites and the related cemeteries across the province.

“Several of them are still standing and functioning, if only once or twice each year on special occasions,” Michael said. “Unfortunately, many of these structures are abandoned now, and each year a few collapse or are demolished.”

The artist hopes to publish a book, or series of books, so they will become part of the historical record of our province once the structures no longer exist. Michael hopes this project will be used as a resource for anyone interested in researching this aspect of Ukrainian/Manitoban history.

“This activity has become a pilgrimage for me,” said Michael. “It dovetails perfectly with my larger artistic practice, spanning the past 20 years and revolving around the investigation of my family history and Ukrainian Catholic/Mennonite cultural heritage.”

Since 1996, Michael has created installations and exhibitions involving a variety of 2D and 3D media and materials, including drawings, sculpture, text, neon and traditional byzantine-style icons, to explore and express his thoughts and feelings related to his family and cultural, spiritual history.

The Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency is offered in partnership by the Manitoba Arts Council and Riding Mountain National Park. The residency takes place in the Deep Bay cabin, a recognized federal heritage building originally used as a base for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s floatplane forest fire patrols.

Since its restoration in 2006, the cabin has welcomed over 100 artists in dance, music, theatre, literary, visual and media arts, who create and share their work with audiences in the park and surrounding area.

Interested in the staying in the Deep Bay cabin? Find out how to apply to the Riding Mountain Artists Residency through the Manitoba Arts Council’s Learn – Residencies program. Apply by November 1, 2021 for a residency in the summer of 2022.