Growing art in the greenhouse

Dr. Roewan Crowe, ©UWinnipeg.

Dr. Roewan Crowe, ©UWinnipeg.

Formerly home to the Biology Department’s collection of exotic plants, the greenhouse on the fifth floor of The University of Winnipeg’s Library has been transformed into a different kind of laboratory. Freshly minted as the greenhouse: a feminist artlab for making and thinking, the space is now dedicated to incubating the arts and artists on campus.

The artlab, which is the brainchild of Dr. Roewan Crowe (Chair, Women’s and Gender Studies), will not only host artist residencies and public art events, but it will also act as studio space for some classes.

“There are so many creative people on campus and we have to remember the importance of arts and culture in thinking, in innovation, in health and well being, in mobilizing communities,” Crowe says. “This is really important to me, and I think it’s really important to the University — this kind of opening up to include more of the arts in the humanities and the social sciences.”

Members of the artist collective CONSTELACIONES Helene Vosters (from left), Monica Martinez, Roewan Crowe, and Christina Hajjar, pose in the greenhouse with some of the ceramic forms used in Return Atacama. Photo supplied.

Members of the artist collective CONSTELACIONES, Helene Vosters (from left), Monica Martinez, Roewan Crowe, and Christina Hajjar, pose in the greenhouse with some of the ceramic forms used in Return Atacama. Photo supplied.

This month, the greenhouse is celebrating the work of multidisciplinary artist collective CONSTELACIONES in its inaugural artists residency, taking place now until January 31.

CONSTELACIONES is a made up of Crowe and UWinnipeg undergraduate student Christina Hajjar, as well as artists Helene Vosters, Monica Martinez, and Doris Difarnecio.

The group, which has been working together for roughly two years, embodies collective healing through art-making, kinship and vulnerability — rejecting isolation, silence, and disconnection in the face of trauma.

The collective will be sharing works-in-progress and artifacts from the trans-hemispheric performances they carried out in 2016.

Among other performances, the artists traveled to the Atacama Desert in Chile to perform and create an unauthorized sound sculpture with ceramic forms created by Martinez. The three-hour performance and resulting monument served to honour and remember the lives affected by the 1973 Chilean coup.

To find out more about CONSTELACIONES and the project, visit

The public is invited to stop by the greenhouse to see the work and engage with the artist during an open studio on Thursday, January 19, from 2–7 p.m., and an art happening on Friday, January 27, from 1 –4 p.m.

Crowe says the goal of the open studio is to think through CONSTELACIONES’ next project, which is a digital book about Return Atacama to be published by Hemi Press.

“It will be an opportunity for us to engage with them about our journey, so we can think through dialogue with others about the book,” Crowe explains. “Because people are going to ask us questions and we might not even have thought about those questions.”

Looking forward, Crowe says there will be two more artist residencies taking place in the greenhouse during 2017, with plans for many more in the future.

Roewan Crowe, Chair, Women’s and Gender Studies, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.786.9426, E:

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