Paul Freeman is one of the rare individuals doing innovative work at the intersection of Art and human services. In addition to being an internationally known, independent artist, Paul Freeman is the Artistic Director of the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts, an art centre for artists with developmental disabilities in Edmonton, Canada. Exhibitions across Canada have showcased his work and recently (summer 2011) his piece, Sigmund & Jacques: Beneath the Valley of Objet A, was featured in an exhibit, shown in Greece, Spain and the Canary Islands. Working as an art educator for the last 20 years, he’s also a part time instructor at the University of Alberta in the Department of Art and Design.
Freeman, received his BFA from The Alberta College of Art & Design (Calgary) in 1998, and his MFA from the University of Alberta (Edmonton) in 2005. As an intermedia artist, Freeman slides with ease between sculpture, drawing, photography and digital animation.
Over the years, Freeman has collaborated with Think Jar Collective members Debbie Reid and Ben Weinlick on a variety of projects related to art and social justice issues surrounding people with disabilities. Paul brings to collaborative projects mind-blowing gifts at questioning assumptions, fostering creativity, wild divergent thinking skills and helps others find the heart of the matter. In line with “thought jarring” ideas that shake loose a fresh, deeper perspective, Freeman recently reflected on his latest exhibition,Mind Control Tricks,
“For me, art needs to be beautiful and seductive and appealing, but at the same time it should be a little repellent and confusing. Walter Benjamin, would talk about the desire for narrative in life and how we always want meaning and reason. When I find something that doesn’t fit those moulds, I think it’s a great way to start figuring out what’s really going on. When it confounds those presupposed notions, I think we can get at a more interesting truth by peeling away what’s comfortable and just looking at it.”
Below is a documentary Paul was integral to, “Through the eyes of artists” (Arthouse Productions, 2005). It looks at a project he helped lead about artists with disabilities exploring social justice issues.
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