Profile: Becka Viau
by Jane Ledwell
I have a lot of energy,” says Becka Viau, “and I have to get it out. I have a lot of drive to do things. I just want to do all the time.” Becka may be known first for her photography, a craft in which she trained at art school and which she has shown prominently at Confederation Centre Art Gallery and elsewhere. But Becka’s creative doings extend to all kinds of mark-making, and she is also making her mark in many ways in the Charlottetown arts scene. “If you want to participate, there is so much to participate in,” she says. “For a small place, it is huge.”
Becka’s recent show of paintings, drawings, and small sculptures at the MUSE Artspace featured fairytale bears, foxes, owls—figures curious, playful, and ominous. Becka describes the work as “a discussion between the adult world and childhood. I’m in my late twenties with no kids,” she says. “In many ways, I am pretty free, and my childhood extends into my adult life.”
So do friendships with children; Becka’s recent work was inspired as she made art alongside a one-and-a-half-year-old girl as a collaborator. “It is really interesting being in this transition age between adulthood and childhood and having a best friend who is little,” she says of their mutually influential art-making. “The first thing you notice is how fast [children] go. They are learning so fast; there is such immediacy in everything they do… But if you take the time to look at that scribble, it is a communication that is so honest for them; these visual marks have such meaning for them… They are learning that their hand is a powerful tool for communicating.”
Becka also worked with young people as visual arts educator at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, but has recently left that role. “It was everything I wanted in a job,” she says, “but it was a battle between giving all of my soul to a job I really believed in or all of my soul to my own personal creative work,” she says.
Part of Becka’s soul’s work is as a “catalyst” in the this town is small collective. This effort “has come about out of the emerging indie community that was coming out of Ampersand,” the erstwhile downtown café, performance, and exhibition space where Becka also had a studio. “Ampersand was somewhere young artists could hang out, create, and talk. When it closed, there was heartbreak that that had happened. For many people my age, it was about losing space that they had created for themselves. It was like hitting a sad wall.”
Becka says, “This town is small is moving towards getting space back for the emerging community.” She summarizes the motto as, “This town is small, so we had better work together for something that is needed, something that is important.” She emphasizes, “It is artists joining together in a collective cause,” she says. So far, the collective has been highly active, sponsoring arts events and developing a blog for creative work and critical response.
Becka says. “Charlottetown is like a small constellation of stars. From a distance, it all looks the same. But each star is unique. We are all connected by a strange energy, and the differences make that energy strong. We have to celebrate the differences in order to celebrate the energy.” Becka says, “It feels like there is something moving.”
Pondering transitions, Becka says, “It’s a battle between becoming a responsible adult who is intellectual and academic and who has this specific training, and everything that isn’t part of that system. It’s a battle between play, and achieving in the adult world.”
Thinking again about children, she says, “Growing is beautiful. There’s that point between realizing you have a body and realizing your body is part of a wider world.” Thinking about artists like her, who live on the precipice between realizing personal creative visions and being part of creating community, she says, “There’s such a drive to see the world new again. I think we can.”