Wool. Paper. Plastic. Butter. These are but a few of the mediums that Agnes Niewiadomski has experimented with in her career as an artist and a maker. She sees the creative potential in each material and is drawn to them for different reasons.
“Mediums like butter or balloons are interesting because of their temporal nature,” says Agnes. “They couldn’t be more different from each other but the reaction they generate in people is one of bewilderment and delight – a terrific response to art.”
There are some materials that can occasionally generate periods of obsessive interest for Agnes, and can eclipse all others. Sugar and cake design have been consuming passions, as well as fibres such as wool, which is at the heart of her adorable needle felting projects.
While the life of an artist can be isolating with hours spent alone in a studio, Agnes has shifted some of her art to public spaces, with a focus on collaborative projects. You may have played with the impressive, large-scale Light Bright game Agnes originally created for NIGHT/SHIFT, Kitchener’s annual nocturnal arts festival. Or perhaps you bore witness to the collaborative creation of the fibre-arts geo-dome at Kitchener’s inaugural Maker Expo last fall. Or you may have ridden the Steel Rails in her Enchanted Paper Forest train car.
“I enjoy creating an experience for people, one more focused on making memories than objects, while letting people build their skills and have fun,” says Agnes. “Playing in public spaces builds a sense of community, something KW has really embraced,” says Agnes.
Embracing opportunities to create in public, Agnes has also done live artistic performances at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) for the last several years, where under the watchful and curious eyes of CNE-goers, she sculpted elaborate butter creations.
A passion of Agnes’s is the maker movement — a technology-influenced, DIY community who publicly share their made creations — and she has travelled across North America to attend Maker Faires.
She has been involved in Kitchener’s maker movement for years, as a member of the hackerspace Kwartzlab, a facility dedicated to inspiring people to bring their projects, whatever they may be, to life. As the Art Program Director, she runs the artist-in-residence program, and uses the community space for her project productions as the space, tools and company are excellent.
When the good folks at Kwartzlab, and their community-maker friends launched Waterloo Region’s Maker Expo last fall, it was no surprise to learn that Agnes was one of the principal organizers, leading large-scale, interactive installation art projects and rallying the masses to volunteer at the event. This year she will lead the curated installations and workshops and has some neat ideas up her sleeve. (Mark your calendars for this year’s Maker Expo on September 10, 2016 – you don’t want to miss it. Trust me).
Agnes’s latest creative adventure is Mindful Makers, a new summer camp for the curious and the creative. This is a natural extension of her experience teaching art and programming summer camps all bundled up with her natural passion for art and creating.
“It’s important to follow your passions in life, and its my mission to spread the joy of maker culture and empower people to lead their lives with a DIY ethic,” she says.
P.S. Agnes’s favourite topic of conversation: making things.