Chimwemwe Undi | 2022 Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency

Chimwemwe Undi, surrounded by laptops.

The Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency provides professional artists with time to focus on their work in the beautiful natural setting of Riding Mountain National Park, housed in the historic Deep Bay cabin.

Follow along as we feature this years’ artists-in-residence and their exciting projects!

MAC: Tell us a little about yourself as an artist and your practice.

CU: I am a poet! My practice bloomed out of a teen-age spoken word career, so speaking my work aloud is a big part of my editing process. Good to know if you see me wandering around murmuring to myself.

Tell us about your project—what will you be working on in the Deep Bay Cabin? 

Generally, I write about everything – love, fear, the colour yellow, the idea of god and dance parties. Recently, I have been writing a lot about the history of the City of Winnipeg, where I live, and the voices of marginalized people that have been erased from that history. I am deeply private and superstitious about everything I work on, but I am here to work on a long form project in which Winnipeg is a character, a metaphor, and a lens.

Chimwemwe Undi at a poetry reading.

What is your relationship with the park, and what are you most looking forward to exploring?

When sharing the news about being awarded this residency, I have had a wonderful bonus pleasure of hearing other Manitobans’ fond memories of road trips to Riding Mountain National Park, to camp, swim, hike and take in the sights. I have never been to Riding Mountain National Park, but I am so looking forward to many gentle adventures in the park, with long pauses for scribbling into a notebook.

How do you hope the park will influence or inspire your project?

I am excited to be far enough away from the place I call home to write about my memory of it more than, or as much as, I write about what I can directly observe. I am also writing and thinking through a lot of poetry about the prairies, much of which circles around an idealized construction of nature, so it seems like a natural fit to be writing towards that in a national park constructed on Treaty 2 territory. Also, honestly, like many people, my “real”, day-to-day life is busy and cluttered and loud. I am looking forward to the space and time for my art to be the centre and focus of my life!

The Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency is offered in partnership by the Manitoba Arts Council and Riding Mountain National Park.

Interested in the staying in the Deep Bay cabin? Find out how to apply to the Riding Mountain Artists Residency through the Learn – Residencies grant stream. Apply by November 1, 2022 for a residency in the summer of 2023.