ash alberg | 2023 Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency

The Riding Mountain Artists’ Residency provides professional Manitoba artists with time to focus on their work in the beautiful natural setting of Riding Mountain National Park.

The next artist-in-residence for 2023 is ash alberg. Ahead of their time in the historic Deep Bay Cabin, ash answered a few of our questions about their art, their connection to the park, and how they’ll be spending their residency.

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

ash alberg: my primary practice is as a natural dyer and knitwear designer, but i come from a theatre background, so i’m always approaching my work through the lens of creating new worlds for my audience to walk through or create for themselves. as a natural dyer, i am particularly focused on the study of our local northern colour palette, and on interrelationships with the plants that go into my dye pots. i make my living through my art via my business, sunflower knit, and teach both natural dyeing and knitwear design on a regular basis in-person as well as online.

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

i will be sewing a quilt created with my 2022 dye colour harvests. last year, i dyed small swatches of wool, silk, and cotton/linen fabric with around 50 homegrown and locally harvested dye plants to document our local colour palette. during my residency, i will take the pieces of fabric and sew them into a quilt to create a single visual representation of our annual local colour palette. i will also be documenting the plants around the cabin and the park, and will lead the public on a plant walk near the end of my residency to share the plants that helped provide colour to the quilt.

What is your relationship with the park?

i’ve visited the park numerous times over the years, but my most clear memory of it was when i worked for parks canada back in 2011 as a touring actor and my castmates and i performed our show at the visitor centre. my parents drove up from winnipeg and we got to camp together.

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

my work is inherently place-based, and as a fibre witch, the stitches i make function as tiny spells. riding mountain will literally be stitched into my quilt over the course of my residency. i will also be documenting the plants that i meet during my stay through photography and videography. being surrounded by the (same types of) plants that provided colour to my quilt while i spend devoted time sewing it together will be very special. (remember, no picking plants while you’re in the park!)

Anything else you’d like to share with readers and the Riding Mountain National Park community?

sustainability is at the core of my work, as is joy. the two can easily go hand in hand! also, plants are a lot more vocal than we give them credit for. it was only through building deeper relationships with them through growing and harvesting them myself that i was able to start seeing that. now, i try to impart that same lesson on all of my natural dyeing students, young and young-at-heart.

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.