a life in three minutes

by Wendy Hollo

We tell stories in order to live.  Joan Didion  How could you live and have no story to tell?  A Dovstoevsky character

On March 30th, over 70 people squished into the Stollery Gallery to see Brief & Bracing, digital stories from the Nina. We thank the Edmonton Community Foundation for its generous support of this project.  Thanks also go to the Upper Crust Restaurant for the excellent chili, cornbread and squares and to Blindman Brewery for their superb beer.  Amid all the excitement that night, one response to the stories, from an EPL librarian, was succinct: “I am humbled,” she said.

A truly packed house!

In a good story, we recognize the fear of facing the unknown.  And we may be surprised, enlivened, and moved by the countless different ways people face their unknowns.  We might connect with the fear of coming to a new country or scaling a climbing wall or the loss of one’s father or grandmother.  We might delight in details: the name of a pet snake, the way someone’s friend does her hair, the reason someone else favoured the colour blue for a month. Those details alert us to the complex, utterly distinct experience of another. In a good story, we sense the unknowable as well as the universal.

The Nina’s digital story project was designed to make the most of storytelling. The form of digital storytelling—a short, personal video that can include many visual elements—seemed perfect for many Nina artists who didn’t want to tell stories through a traditional text format. And the digital storytelling process allows for truly inclusive participation.

Crystal Sydor with special guest

Over a one-year period, diverse groups of Nina artists, staff, workers, volunteers, and community members were formed by project organizer Jocelyn Brown. With recruiting help from EPL and Arts on the Avenue, five groups were created of 5-8 people, each group meeting every week for six weeks with Karen Matthews of Weasel Tale.  With writing support from Jocelyn, digital story expertise from Karen, and encouragement from other group members, each participant created a story. In a year, 30 amazing digital stories emerged.

Linda’ story

Over the next few weeks, we will share some of these stories with you in weekly blog posts.  If you follow our blogs or are a “friend of Nina“,  you will know Linda Vincent as the 2017 Stantec Artist of the Year.  But there is so much more to know about this dedicated artist – her story was a revelation even to those who have worked alongside her in the Nina studios for years.  Here is Linda’s story – a life in three minutes.