Guidelines by Carmen Papalia with Heather Kai Smith

Red pastel  is used to create a detailed illustration of the lower half of a people walking in line single-file.

Heather Kai Smith, "Open Access: Claiming Visibility" (2019), 14 inches x 22 inches, pastel on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Walter Phillips Gallery presents summer exhibition by Carmen Papalia with Heather Kai Smith

Carmen Papalia with Heather Kai Smith 
June 15 – August 25, 2019
Walter Phillips Gallery (107 Tunnel Mountain Drive Banff, Alberta) 
Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity  

BANFF, AB, June 4, 2019 – Walter Phillips Gallery at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity presents Guidelines, an exhibition of new and existing works by 2019 Sobey Art Award-nominated artist Carmen Papalia with Heather Kai Smith. The exhibition is free and open to all from June 15 – August 25, with an opening reception on Friday, June 14 from 6 until 9 p.m. 

“The exhibition reflects a deep collaboration between the artists, as well as with Michael Lis of Goodweather Studio,” said Jacqueline Bell, Curator at Walter Phillips Gallery. “This substantial body of new work offers diverse points of entry into Papalia’s concept of Open Access, via means both direct and poetic.” 

Since 2015, Vancouver based-artist Carmen Papalia's practice has been grounded in the conceptual framework he terms “Open Access”. This set of five tenants draw on Papalia's experience as a non-visual learner, a term he chooses to identify with over the medicalizing terminology of blind or visually impaired. Emphasizing what he understands as an institution's social accessibility, the framework of Open Access advocates for the artist's understanding of "accessibility as social practice" – a temporary experience that requires a relational approach to mutual care. 

For this exhibition, Papalia is collaborating with Heather Kai Smith on an animation titled Open Access: Claiming Visibility (2019), which visually interprets the concept. The animation will be presented alongside a series of works on paper by Smith, as well as a new sound work developed at Banff Centre. Primarily working in drawing, Smith often engages ideas of mutual support through careful renderings of archival protest documentation. 

Materially emphasizing the labour, as well as ephemeral nature inherent in a relational approach to accessibility, the commissioned works will mark the Vancouver-based artists' first collaboration. 

Public programming during the exhibition includes: 

•    Exhibition Tours // July 3 and August 21 at 5 p.m. 
•    Art Break // July 31 at 12 p.m. 

Walter Phillips Gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12:30 until 5 p.m. Group tours of exhibitions may be arranged. Please call Walter Phillips Gallery at 403.762.6281 for additional information or to arrange an appointment.

For information about current exhibitions at Walter Phillips Gallery, visit

About Carmen Papalia: Born in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish territory in 1981, Carmen Papalia is an artist who uses organizing strategies and improvisation to address his access to public space, the art institution, and visual culture. His socially engaged practice is an effort to unlearn visual primacy and resist support options that promote ablest concepts of normalcy.

Papalia’s walks, workshops, and interventions are an opportunity to model new standards and practices in the area of accessibility. He approaches the museum as a colonial enterprise that has benefited from a tradition of cultural violence; a platform that contains valuable cultural resources, which is marginalizing by design. His work has been featured at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Tate Liverpool, Liverpool; the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge; the Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana; and Gallery Gachet, Vancouver; among others. Papalia was a nominee on the longlist for the 2019 Sobey Art Award. 

Papalia is the recipient of the 2014 Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary and the 2013 Wynn Newhouse Award. He holds a BA from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and an MFA with a focus in Art & Social Practice from Portland State University.

Heather Kai Smith: Heather Kai Smith is an artist who currently lives and works in the unceded Coast Salish Territory known as Vancouver. She completed her MFA at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2017), and her BFA in Drawing from the Alberta College of Art and Design (2009). Her current practice explores the potential embedded within archival images of protest, collectivity, and intentional communities activated through drawing, observation and iteration. Rooted in the practice of drawing, her work has lent itself to projects in animation, printmaking, and installation.

Smith has attended residencies across the United States and in Germany, while exhibiting her work within a variety of institutional and non-conventional spaces. Smith has participated in and facilitated workshops and collaborative projects across Canada and the United States. Her visual work was recently exhibited in Beginning with the Seventies: Collective Acts, at the Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery in Vancouver, curated by Lorna Brown. She is currently a non-regular faculty member in the Audain Faculty of Art at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

About Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity: Founded in 1933, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is Canada’s largest postgraduate arts and leadership school. What started as a single course in drama has grown to become the global organization leading in arts, culture, and creativity across dozens of disciplines. From our home on Treaty 7 territory in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity aims to inspire everyone who attends our campus – artists, leaders, and thinkers – to unleash their creative potential and realize their unique contribution to society through cross-disciplinary learning opportunities, world-class performances, and public outreach. 

About Walter Phillips Gallery: Walter Phillips Gallery is exclusively committed to the production, presentation, collection and analysis of contemporary art and curatorial practice. For contemporary artists, particularly those engaged in alternative forms of practice, Walter Phillips Gallery remains an essential and principle site where art is presented to an audience for critical reception. In an effort to ensure a broad and balanced representation of the different areas of research at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Gallery displays and collects: painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, photography, and new media-based works.