It Still Matters

Professionalism in Practice at the 11th Art Matters Festival

“Art is sometimes the only vehicle of communication and expression available to artists,” said Helen Arceyut-Frixione, a coordinator for this year’s Art Matters Festival.

Now in its 11th year, the annual student-run festival aims to highlight the professionalism of this year’s applicants, rather than the decidedly humble origins of its contributing artists.

“I think Art Matters provides an idealistic glimpse into what [an artistic career] could be like,” said Stephanie Bokenfohr, the festival’s special events coordinator.

“Our festival exists in a learning body,” she continued, “and so it’s proud to remain an exploratory opportunity for current undergrad fine arts students to ‘take the ball and run with it.’”

“In the past we feel that there has been a strong emphasis on the student-run aspect of the festival which overshadows the
festival itself,” said Arceyut-Frixione. Although photography is her forte, she said organizing this year’s festival has quickly become her primary artistic activity.

“Art Matters has been around for 10 years, and in our 11th year we want the festival to become [more] recognized within the Montreal community.”
Over the last decade, the festival has also garnered a reputation for some of its memorable parties. This year in particular, the organizers said, they are working to “go really big” for all the events, which include vernissages, an opening party, workshops and a speakers series.

While the city has a great number of galleries and artist-run centres, Arceyut-Frixione said it’s still difficult for artists to get their work shown—though hard work and persistence lead to the biggest pay off.

“This goes hand in hand with getting to know your artistic community and building strong bonds,” she said. “By getting to know the available resources, opportunities become visible.”

So what does it take to become a part of this year’s Art Matters?

“It really is all about persistence, curiosity and willingness,” said Bokenfohr. “The students that make up the festival—from curators to artists—are given an opportunity to discover their own unique praxis. To actually live through [this festival] is an invaluable exercise in professionalism: working in the real-world setting of commercial galleries.”

The Art Matters Festival is looking for undergraduate student applications. For more information, visit The deadline for applications is Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 8:00 p.m

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 17, published January 4, 2011.