Finding Oliver: Ligtvoet’s art is a celebration of Oliver’s best

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January 16, 2019
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March 14, 2019

Finding Oliver: Ligtvoet’s art is a celebration of Oliver’s best

In his music, Cadence Weapon would often point to popular Edmonton watering holes ― from a drunken stupor at the Black Dog or a slice of pizza at the Funky Pickle. No matter where the night would take him, this former city poet laureate, would always make his way back to Oliver Square.

“See me on the bill
Better follow me there
I solemnly swear
I’ll make it back to Oliver Square”

Paul Blinov for Vue Weekly in 2015, took a deep dive into Cadence Weapon’s lyrics for “Oliver Square” ten years after the song’s debut. Within that span: an evolution of the neighbourhood, a decade of civic change. The Funky Pickle, a pizza spot on Jasper, now closed. His song, however, a useful archival recollection of Oliver’s contemporary transformation.

In the same way, Métis painter and printmaker living in Edmonton, artist Kiona Ligtvoet reflects on memories and experiences through art.  

“I focus on representing my feelings and memories in my artwork,” Kiona says. “This tends to take on an ‘emotional mapping’ approach where I take different experiences that I have had, and link them together to create new narratives.”

Using family photographs as part of her research at the University of Alberta, Kiona has initiated an intimate and introspective process of retrieval and remembrance of memories from her past. Cree-Mohawk Métis and a member of Michel First Nation, Kiona’s art also touches on themes of childhood, sexuality, gender, and Indigenous identity.

With her experience and personal understanding and celebration of cognitive maps, Kiona was enlisted by the Oliver Community League to imagine and design a print representing the Oliver neighbourhood and community. Inspired by the feedback and input from area residents and visitors, Ligtvoet was able to tap into the essence of a place.

“This project was fun for me in that I got to explore mapping in a more collective sense, as opposed to just based on my own experiences.”

From bubble-facades to full-to-the-brim coffees at local java joints to bicycle-rides along the “Oliverbahn,” Kiona’s print can be replicated at a special Oliver Community League event. Join in on the fun, meet your neighbours, and learn more about Kiona’s art piece:

  • What: Our Oliver ― A Community Printmaking Event
  • When: Friday, March 15, 2019 (Drop in anytime between 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.)
  • Where: SNAP Printshop (10123-121 Street NW)
  • Cost: Free (suggested $10 donation)

Through this iterative and collaborative process with the community, Kiona learned more about the Oliver neighbourhood’s assets and values, fostering a deeper appreciation for the people, restaurants and shops, and spaces within it.

What inspired you to participate in this initiative?

My inspiration for this project was a love for Oliver and its treasured spaces, like SNAP. Oliver has a tight knit sense of community represented by the beloved infrastructure of the neighbourhood. A local coffee shop or gallery is more than just that, it’s a meeting place for students, parents, small business owners, and artists alike.

How have you interpreted the feedback/input from Oliver’s residents and visitors into your art piece?

After reading the responses from the survey that OCL put out, I decided to touch on the sense of community felt around social spaces in the neighbourhood. I decided to work a number of meaningful hubs and activities into an artistic map of Oliver, to represent what the community members see as quintessential to the neighbourhood identity.

What did you discover/learn from this process?

I learned a lot from the feedback from Oliver residents and visitors. It was heartening to see that my favourite Oliver places and activities so closely coincided with other residents, and to know that Oliver is a community built on places and things that are loved by the people living here. On the other hand, I discovered a lot of elements of the neighbourhood I’d never noticed or considered before. This process has me thinking about where I want to see Oliver in the coming years, and how I can help foster more great spaces for the community.

What was your impression of Oliver before you engaged in this project? Has it changed?

Before I engaged in this project, I had always suspected that Oliver was a neighbourhood built on activities and spaces held close to the hearts of the area’s residents and visitors. In many ways, that notion remains the same, only further affirmed by the feedback from the community.

In other ways, I now see Oliver as a neighbourhood with room to grow in terms of accessibility, family friendly living, and municipal services.

What next project/initiative are you working on and where can people learn more about you and your work?

Right now I am entering into the last year of my BFA at the University of Alberta, with a focus in painting and printmaking. Most of my energy is put into growing my body of work and further exploring my style and process of creating. I have a website for my artwork that I keep up to date, as well as an instagram where I post in progress updates of new work.

For more information about Kiona Ligtvoet, visit: or @kiona_wynne on Instagram.

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