Lanre Ajayi – filmmaker and visual artist, Calgary
Lanre Ajayi is a passionate storyteller who believes in using his artistic skills to build and promote Alberta communities as a platform for every member of society to become aware of the happenings around them. His new media storytelling project, called “My City Speaks to Me,” is a collection of short documentary films creating a positive narrative from the lens of an immigrant.
Janita Frantsi – dancer, Edmonton
Janita Frantsi is a contemporary dance artist based in Edmonton. Originally from Finland, she spent her youth training in various styles of dance, such as jazz, street styles, contemporary, modern, ballet technique and flamenco, and then fell in love with contemporary dance. Janita holds a MA in Dance from the University of Alberta.
Yukichi Hattori – dancer, Calgary
Yukichi Hattori started dancing in Tokyo, Japan. He joined the Hamburg ballet in Germany in 1999 and was promoted to soloist in 2004. He then moved to the Alberta Ballet in 2006, where he danced until 2016. He opened and operates the H/W school of Ballet in Calgary along with his partners, Galien Johnston Hattori and Tara Williamson.
Zach Polis – poet and spoken word performer, St. Albert
Zach Polis was St. Albert’s first poet laureate, acting as a literary and cultural ambassador for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. He has performed in New York City and across Alberta, including the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. His poems have been recognized on Vogue Italia’s PhotoVogue and displayed on public art projects and transit vehicles. Zach holds a BA in Drama and Creative Writing from the University of Alberta.
Natalie Vargas – filmmaker, Calgary
Natalie Vargas is an emerging first generation El Salvadorian-Canadian artist. After completing the 2-year film program at the SAIT, Natalie found her voice in filmmaking using stories of her culture and family's triumphs as her inspiration in her script writing and creativity. She now works in collaboration with local artists, using Super 8mm film as her creative medium for storytelling.
Billie Zizi – musician, Edmonton
Edmonton's Billie Zizi deftly combines the groove of classic soul with a flair for contemporary RnB melody, while adding an avant-jazz vibe with her adventurous guitar forays to create a sound as accessible as it is experimental.
Alberta’s first Artist in Residence/Arts Ambassador was Lauren Crazybull, a Blackfoot Dene visual artist. During their term, Lauren engaged with communities across Alberta – from Medicine Hat to Fort McKay – and completed an art project, “TSIMA KOHTOTSITAPIIHPA Where are you from?” that premiered at Latitude 53 gallery in Edmonton on January 24, 2020.
Credit: Photo of Lauren Crazybull by Conor McNally
We thank Lauren Crazybull for successfully completing their term as Alberta’s first Artist in Residence.