Canadian Men's Chorus: Shadowland

This past weekend, our work with the Canadian Men’s Chorus wrapped with a performance at Trinity United in Gravenhurst to close their performance season. This was an art child so special, I have come out of my blog slumber to try and process what happened over the last couple of months.

I came to understand over the course of working on this project that the song curation was a strange and beautiful creature. It drifted into the room, gently tapped on our shoulders, and politely asked if it could break our hearts. The set was equal portions sweet, haunting, uplifting and joyful. Artistic Director Greg Rainville gave us what we didn’t know we needed: To propel ourselves into Shadowland.

“Shining five and six in a row on a wooden fence, Why do you keep wishes on your face all day long…” —North Wind (Nicholas Kelly, original poem by Carl Sandburg)

“Shining five and six in a row on a wooden fence, Why do you keep wishes on your face all day long…” —North Wind (Nicholas Kelly, original poem by Carl Sandburg)

I hope I’ll be forgiven for calling this kind of performance the best kind of antidote to what ails us. What is music but one of the most effective tinctures to an exhausted soul? It’s still a sequence of sounds, but with none of the delight that has the capacity to shift us to another plane of existence.

To rewind: I had no idea about the beautiful one-two punch I was about to be delivered when I sat down with my artistic co-conspirator (also former professor) Jay Wilson in January. After some catching up/pleasantries, he pulled out a piece of paper and said “If you’re interested…” The piece of paper had scribbles of song names and stage designs. He had it in his head that we were to do something about it, insisting that each song was more beautiful than the last.

Now… It’s not that I didn’t believe him (he taught me to pay attention to beauty years ago) but the belief that a choral performance is so engaging that it’s practically begging for artistic intervention made me wonder: How moving could these pieces possibly be?

In February, the three of us (Greg, Jay and I) met to see what could be done and how. There were changes, but we basically hashed out the visuals within two, maybe three hours. I’m not sure if that happens with most meetings, but in my own experience - that’s rare. And in terms of moving, I guess I had my answer. Somehow we maintained a bizarre mix of trust and what can I only assume was enchantment over the course of the three months that followed.

Along the way we brought Mira Szuberwood, Thang Vu, Sonia Pajakowski, and Audrey Yip to produce visuals and add performative elements to the stage production. We had a mixture of digital and analog elements, everything was timed, re-considered and timed again…

…Fast forward to May when our team was intact, all of the videos were edited, rendered, recodec’d, and we were putting up screens to have our first rehearsal at the Church of the Redeemer. I won’t go into too much detail about how terrified I felt, but sufficed to say at that point, it wasn’t just another gig for me. The work felt too personal to fail.

Our recording from our first show is forthcoming, but releasing that work will be bittersweet for the team. While we haven’t seen the last of each other, I think each of us understands that the deep magic we all felt can’t be conjured up exactly the same way again.

I’ve hopefully expressed my gratitude enough for the team to get the picture, but just in case: Greg, Jay, Thang, Mira, Sonia, Audrey, Gary on the piano, our vocalists Gareth, Rick, Carl, Johnny, Tyler, Diego, Dan, Stephen, Kamryn who recorded our work, the whole CMC Team who did all of the things, and our surprisingly effective Ian. Who are you all even? I’m certain we’ll be indebted to one another for some time.

Also special thanks to the Toronto Arts Council and my alma mater Sheridan for sponsoring our work.

Is there something finished? And some new beginning on the way?

Joyland Magazine, So Far.

As Joyland Magazine celebrates its new publishers this month, I wanted to post a quick update on the amazing work we've done so far...

"Retro 5" will be coming out this Fall! I've designed the cover, which is a throwback to Joyland (the novel) beginnings. 

Joyland Magazine, Retro 5, Anthology, 2016. (cover, Carolyn Tripp)

Joyland Magazine, Retro 5, Anthology, 2016. (cover, Carolyn Tripp)

We've also been feverishly updated the content for the site! These are my favourite pieces I've done for the magazine so far. 

First image (left from right)  "The Huldra" by Ryan Sloan, "Society and Others" by Tim Conley, "Desiree" by Linnie Green, "Ghosts You Loved More" by Michelle Lyn King, "Something Night Music" by Craig Shilowich, "Partnered" by Emma Horwitz, and "Sand Castles," by Alyson Foster.

I'll be updating my blog shortly with details on how to order "Retro 5" once it's been completed. xo

Announcing a new partnership with Joyland Magazine

I'm happy to announce that the fine people at Joyland Fiction and myself have begun a new partnership wherein they publish incredible short fiction and I illustrate it for the purpose of entertaining you fine people.

Check out the main site: to view what we have in store beginning in April!

Long Winter Galleria at Galleria Mall

We got to art and party in one of our favourite Old Toronto holdouts this past weekend. The Galleria Mall's future is uncertain, but whatever developers make of it, at least we'll be able to say we threw a fantastic Long Winter in its corridors. My installation/performance, "RGB Nails," was delightful to execute in such a unique space.

This process was inspired by my fascination with different way-finding techniques used on elements of mid-twentieth century pop psychology (including the Ouija board). The idea that we can ascribe meaning to something as simple as a nail colour says more about our own psychology and self awareness that, say, believing an "external presence" is guiding our actions.

he group effort involved in selecting colours was oddly meditative. Mostly I was fascinated by how many Long Winter patrons were physically unable to relax - especially in a party environment. Their hands and wrists were tense as they touched the view-finder with me. As curious as I find it, this is something to which I can relate a great deal (especially in my formative years of not really getting what art parties were for or why we should have them).

Oddly, many thought I was a colour expert or psychic of some kind... As if using such a familiar mechanism gives one automatic credentials for such a thing. I assured everyone that I was neither an esthetician or a clairvoyant, but many still took the process of flashing lights and colour-finding very seriously. The LED lighting, installed to hover above the structure, was successful in throwing visitors off until I switched them to "white" when their session was completed. Many didn't know what their colours were supposed to be until the proper light balance was achieved.

I'm grateful to the Long Winter crew for making this project happen... And of course to everyone who stood in a long line to chill with me and select some colours with a party raging down the hall.

CBC Arts Exhibitionist-in-Residence This Week

Leah Collins interviewed me this week for the Exhibitionist in Residence program over at CBC Arts. The Exhibitionists team will be covering my animation work - it airs 4:30pm this Sunday! 

Here I manage to process my Bowie grief and answer a few of her other questions, too.

Pineapple Bowie, Carolyn Tripp, 2016

Workshops at Nuvango starting January 12th, 2016

I'm teaming up with Nuvango for the next three weeks to provide workshops for emerging artists (ie students, new grads, or anyone starting out their practice).

The first one starts this coming Tuesday! It's free but registration is required in advance. You can do that here:


We’re excited to present a brand new, 100% free, three-part educational series run by Carolyn Tripp & Nuvango to help you get on your feet and stay there in 2016. This series will focus on facing the fears of being a real, legit, professional, practicing artist. Don’t worry, no one said anything about having to be an adult - we just want to give you the confidence to take off your training wheels and zoom off into the artworld sunset.

Ready to step up your game, art star?

Sign up for part one of the This is Happening?! series “The Mad Real World: Professional Practice, Constructing a CV and Documenting Your Work, Getting to Know Website Basics, and Approaching Galleries,” featuring artist Rachel McRae here

As a participant in our first session, you will walk away with the skills and tools to manage your professional art practice including learning about grants, galleries, the first stepping stones of website management, tricks for documentation and gaining the confidence to get out there and show your work. We know it can be scary to create a business from such a personal practice, but we’re here to help - and what better time to get started than a brand new year, ‘cause this IS happening!?