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‘Open views’

Master of fine arts graduate uses bicycling as a vehicle for creativity

special feature: Class of 2023

The Gazette’s latest special feature celebrates Memorial’s newest alumni.

By Pamela Gill

Biking across Europe and capturing the experience by designing a pack of cards may seem incongruous to some, but it’s a natural combination for Kellyann Henderson.

Kellyann Henderson smiles at the camera; a bookcase with art objects is behind her out of focus.
Kellyann Henderson is graduating with a master of fine arts degree on Oct. 19 during fall convocation.
Photo: Lori Lee Pike

As part of a visual arts research project while at Grenfell Campus, the fall 2023 master of fine arts graduate documented her two-wheeled journey on her website. The project focuses on playing cards and how they are a vehicle for human connection.

“I collected ephemera along my way — street posters, event cards— and used them as canvases for 100 framed pieces and large format paintings,” said Ms. Henderson. “The website is a sort of a choose-your-own-adventure, through a deck of cards.”

In addition, she created a large-format accordion book during her travels.

‘Everyone’ should have a bike

Ms. Henderson, who says she is from “all over,” calls herself a bicycle worshipper.

She believes everyone should have the opportunity to own and ride a bike.

“I want everyone to have the opportunity to see the off-road beauty of Western Newfoundland from the wide-open vantage point of a bike saddle, no matter their income or skill level,” she said. “This mindset is rooted in experiences as a life-long cyclist and community organizer and in the belief that riding bikes strengthens communities and individuals and can foster and reveal the beauty of a place.”

And so, she created Corner Broken Spoke, a non-profit community project that partners with Cycle Solutions, Grenfell Campus and the City of Corner Brook to supply tools, parts, bikes and knowledge to would-be cyclists.

Thanks to donations and volunteers, anyone in the Corner Brook area can now create their own bike, or borrow a bike, from the Corner Broken Spoke arsenal at the Centre for Research and Innovation in downtown Corner Brook.

The creation of the social enterprise earned Ms. Henderson a Grenfell Campus Engagement Award.

Kellyann Henderson holds a hand over her heart while Dr. Ian Henderson, a white man in his mid 40s presents her with a framed award. Another white man in his mid 50s stands to the right.
At left, Dr. Ian Sutherland presents Kellyann Henderson with an Engagement Award for the Corner Broken Spoke project.
Photo: Submitted

She is also the recipient of an A.G. Hatcher Memorial Fellowship, valued at $15,000, which funded her bike trip in Europe.

Additionally, Ms. Henderson was awarded funding through the Research Innovation Office. The office is committed to fostering a progressive culture of technology transfer and commercialization to promote social and economic benefits for Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Social enterprises make tangible changes toward a future that benefits everyone,” she said. “Of my time at Grenfell, that’s what I’m most proud of: that anyone can go to the centre and build a bike. I started working on this project because I loved riding in Newfoundland so much that when I came to visit for my master of fine arts degree, I decided to move here.”

‘So lucky’

The public response to her work has been encouraging.

“Grenfell’s facilities are better than most other visual arts schools across the country.” — Kellyann Henderson

She exhibited her work in her first solo exhibition in New Brunswick, at Gallerie Sans Nom.

The exhibition included the bike trip-collected ephemera and large-format paintings, as well as hand-crafted, faux-stained glass cabinets that held the dishes she made while she was in Europe. A collector in Corner Brook bought the cabinets.

A collection of wooden cabinets mounted on a gallery wall that is covered in a blue and white background.
Some of the cabinets Kellyann Henderson built and installed as part of her solo exhibition.
Photo: Submitted

“I don’t think people realize how good the facilities are at Grenfell Campus,” she said. “I made the cabinets using state-of-the-art technology in the fabrication shop. I was so lucky to be able to avail of this technology — Grenfell’s facilities are better than most other visual arts schools across the country.”

What advice does she have for other graduate students?

“The best riding spot for picking raspberries is the dirt road that cuts to the right on Route 450 before the turn for the highway. Open views and no traffic.”

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