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Meet the Artists - 2013

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2013 Mentoring Artists

The 2013 Artist in Residency artists come from all over Canada (and the world!), but they have strong connections to Fort McMurray and the Wood Buffalo region. Learn more about the artists and their work:

Luke Maddaford

Luke Maddaford is an Alberta based interdisciplinary artist.  He is currently studying drawing at the Alberta College of Art + Design in Calgary, and is the director of the Marion Nicoll Gallery.  He graduated from Keyano College in Fort McMurray with a Visual Art and Design Diploma and has shown work around both Fort McMurray and Calgary.

Contact Information:

Nicola Tibbetts

Nicola was born in Pine Falls Manitoba but soon moved to the woods of Ontario and then Vancouver Island. In 2008 he received a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal and then went on to complete an MFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in 2010. Nicola is currently living in Vancouver where he teaches painting and drawing part-time at Capilano University. He has an active painting and drawing practice in his home where he cultivates a large vegetable garden and keeps chickens too.

Contact Information:

Interview with Nicola:

1.What motivates or inspires your creativity?
Objects, people and places.

2.What were your goals for yourself during the time spent in the Wood Buffalo Artist in Residency Program?
To make work that I am happy with and that Wood Buffalo communities can get something out of as well.

3.What piece of advice or idea would you like share with young artists in Wood Buffalo?
If you are considering art school know that post-secondary is not only an excellent way to learn techniques and skills but it is a great way to meet people, share ideas, take classes for interest sake and see other cities in Canada.

4.What is next on your horizon?
I will go back to Vancouver and continue working in my studio, exhibiting and teaching.

Donna Bilyk

Born and raised in Saskatoon, SK, Donna Bilyk knew from an early age that her passion in life was the creation of art. Married with 5 children, Donna has moved around Western Canada and, since 1995, has operated her own business specializing in custom picture framing, fine art photography and commission art work. She has had the opportunity to participate in numerous solo and group exhibitions across Canada and her works are held in private and corporate collections.

Her practice incorporates a multi-disciplinary approach. She is inspired by Impressionist artists such as Degas and Manet for their use of light, brushwork and strong compositional elements. Recent exposure to contemporary artists: Richter, Bartlett and Hughes have formed a diverse assemblage to draw upon.

Donna completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts, with great distinction, at the University of Lethbridge in 2011. As the recipient of a SSHRC grant and Graduate Scholarship, Donna has come full circle and enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Saskatchewan. She has successfully defended her Thesis in March 2013 and attended convocation in June 2013.

Contact Information:
46 Ridgewood Blvd W.Lethbridge , AB. T1K 6B9

Interview with Donna:

1.What motivates or inspires your creativity?
Many things motivate and inspire me.  I am constantly moved by the world around me as well as by images of the past.   As a visual artist I find myself constantly thinking and responding to these visual stimuli through photography, paint, sculpture or whatever medium needed.

2.What were your goals for yourself during the time spent in the Wood Buffalo Artist in Residency Program?
My goal during my Wood Buffalo residency was to immerse myself in the location and respond using a variety of mediums. I also wanted to use my time here to explore and experiment with mark-making.  I feel very privileged to have been given this opportunity to work in the Anzac community.

3.What piece of advice or idea would you like share with young artists in Wood Buffalo?
I would tell them to follow your dream and never give up.  I was once a young artist who found life had taken me in many directions other than art making.  At the age of 40 I decided to go back to school and follow my dream.  Since then I have completed both my BFA “Bacheolor of Fine Art”and  MFA “Master of Fine Art”, now finding myself on the path to becoming a full time artist.  Proving it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

4.What is next on your horizon? 
My next horizon is to one day soon open an artist residency which would include a tea room and art gallery.

Christian Villacillo

Christian Villacillo was born and raised in Cebu, Philippines. At the age of twenty, he immigrated to Canada with his family and now considers Alberta home. It is here, in Alberta, where Christian chose to begin a career in the arts. Christian received his Visual Arts & Design Diploma from Keyano College in 2011. Since 2012, he has worked in the Keyano College Printmaking Studio as a technician and art demonstrator.

While he was still a Visual Arts student, Christian began to be noticed at home and abroad. His work has been published internationally in photography magazines, he has been featured in art websites, and he has been interviewed extensively about his aesthetic and processes. He has exhibited in both solo and group shows in North America, and his photographs and prints are collected internationally including: the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Australia, and, the Philippines.  Christian intends to complete his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking at the University of Alberta, where he will start his 3rd year in the Fall of 2013.

Contact Information:

Interview with Christian:

1.What motivates or inspires your creativity?

As a print-artist, I am always fascinated with the creation and the translation of an artist’s mark and the systematic changes the idea of an image undergoes from being a mere potential which is interpreted into a matrix and emerges as a statement in the physical world. That whole process, the dialogue between the artist and his mark, inspires me to investigate printmaking more as an art of translation and interpretation.

2.What were your goals for yourself during the time spent in the Wood Buffalo Artist in Residency Program?

The goal was to continue a body of work that I started back in the summer of 2012 that evolved, due to certain forces at play, into unique images based on printmaking processes. At the same time, I wanted to keep the momentum of being able to make (art) work since graduating from Keyano College’s Visual Arts & Design Program to working as an Art Demonstrator and Studio Technician to the present as an Artist in Residence.

3.What piece of advice or idea would you like share with young artists in Wood Buffalo? 

“Man’s senses collect and accumulate, the emotions and mind convert and order, and through the medium of art, they are emitted to participate again in the life stream where in turn will stimulate action in other men. For art is not only expressive but communicable as well, this communicability imparts to it a social function.” –Mark Rothko

4.What is next on your horizon? 
Moving to Edmonton and pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Alberta with a concentration on Printmaking.

Breanna Fabbro

Breanna Fabbro’s work is an extraction of recognizable forms reconfigured, exploring the possibilities of narratives and space evolving through artistic process.  Dualities of support and restraint, concealment and exposure are drawn upon in order to create visual relationships, and to explore human experience. Abstracted spaces are explored through visual fragments of existing locations that are deconstructed and reconfigured into emotionally weighted spaces and expansive realms of non-reality.

Breanna was born in Vancouver, BC and began studying Visual Art and Art History at Langara College in 2003, and completed her BFA at Concordia University in 2008.  Upon returning to Vancouver, she has continued pursuing her art practice, and has most recently been preparing her portfolio in order to apply for Graduate studies.

Contact Information:

Bree Mackin

Bree Mackin is a textile artists and part-time wardrobe assistant in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) and has a Surface Design diploma from New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (NBCCD). She has participated in over ten group shows and two solo shows in the Maritimes. Her pieces are mostly created found objects or discarded textiles.

Contact Information:


Sonia Burke Smith

Sonia Burke Smith is a self-taught Artist whose dream is to place art and culture as one of the three foundations (culture, science, spirit) for social and economic progress in the region. Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Sonia spent most of her life travelling and living in northern Canada. She now resides in Fort McMurray, AB with her family.

Since embracing her inner artist, Sonia’s practice rapidly developed. She became an Art Educator through the Royal Conservatory of Music, participated in several group shows, and continues to offer art workshops and afterschool programming. She encourages artist development through the creation of the Boreal Artist Institute, a local non-profit organization. Recently, she tackled the performing arts by acting, writing and directing a one-act play with special needs actors.

Sonia's visual art chronicles her journey through Aboriginal-influenced styles and imagery. “I have been blessed with support and teachings from our Aboriginal people. That support came from a local family when I was young and has stayed with me my whole life. I have a great respect for what I was gifted and share that any chance I have.”

Contact Information:

Interview with Sonia:

What motivates or inspires your creativity?
Spirituality and environment.

What were your goals for yourself during the time spent in the Wood Buffalo Artist in Residency Program?
My goal was to connect with strangers at the river and study these connections made. My question that I wanted to explore and do a body of work on what a river represents to a community. I also wanted to explore more of what the creation of group work with the theme of the river. I also wanted to explore photography as a medium.

What piece of advice or idea would you like share with young artists in Wood Buffalo? 
To use their gift and not be afraid to express themselves honestly through their work. So often we buckle to commercialism and lose our creativity in the process.I see art as the last honest platform to express honestly the world around us. We have the ability to ask the important questions, make statements and offer solutions in a creative way that inspires others.

What is next on your horizon?
I will be working at our non-profit on putting together Alberta Culture Days with many art and culture groups and continuing on to working within the community in the arts.

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