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Isabel Bader Center to host immersive exhibit by local artist creative

Concept image of Aqua Nova in the Isabel atrium. Image by Hayden Maynard.

A new, transformational exhibit is coming to the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. On the evenings of September 10 and 11, 2022, Aqua Nova will turn the atrium into a giant projection screen, allowing the audience to move freely through the space and experience the show from both within the atrium and outside of the Isabel.

Don Maynard, a well-known local artist (recipient of the 2019 Mayor’s Arts Award; see City of Kingston video on Maynard’s works here), spearheaded this installation. “One day, as I was sitting in the foyer of the Isabel Bader Centre, I noticed there were aircraft cables at the top of the windows that extended around the foyer. It was a short step from this realization to coming up with the concept to turn the Isabel into a giant projection screen,” he shared in an email with Kingstonist.

He took his concept and reached out to local multi-media artists Josh Lyon, Kay Kenney (2020 Mayor’s Arts Awards recipient), and Sadaf Amini. All three came on board, and the creative process began.

“What did we want to say? What was important to us? It had to be big and it had to be something that would speak to our Kingston audience,” Maynard noted.

“At the time were all in the middle of COVID, locked out of our regular lives. We wanted to say something that would speak about this dark time, but we also wanted to speculate on what the future might bring. We were all hopeful about the future and we felt that everyone would need some type of release when it was all over. We certainly did.”

Together, the collective chose Aqua Nova as their theme — new water, a journey from dark to light.

In this exhibit, the four artists explore the language of water, how we move in it, and the physical and spiritual connections it has with our community, according to a release from the organizers.

Lyon, a local producer, director, and musician, has worked with each of the artists in the past, and expressed his excitement at creating Aqua Nova specifically for the Isabel.

“It’s incredible to have a world-class multi-arts space like the Isabel in Kingston. It’s just such a magnificent and inspiring building and everything I’ve worked on there is enhanced by being in that space,” he stated.

“This project is especially cool because it not only gets to be shown in the beautiful Isabel Bader lobby overlooking Lake Ontario, but also the piece will be shaped by and shape the space itself through a series of giant semi-opaque screens and projections that will turn the whole thing into a giant immersive aquarium-like experience!”

Kenney, a professional dancer and now Artistic Director at Kingston School of Dance, told Kingstonist a bit about how she felt about joining the team.

“Don Maynard reached out to me in Spring of 2020 to discuss collaborating with Josh Lyon and myself on a project called Aqua Nova. The more we discussed the vision of the project, the more I became inspired to engage in it,” she expressed. 

“This is my first time collaborating with visual artist, Don Maynard, and musician Sadaf Amini. As a fan of Sadaf Amini’s music, I was thrilled to learn she would be creating the soundscape for this project,” Kenney continued. “Fortunately, I have had the ability to work with cinematography throughout my dance career, though not to this degree. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with videographer, Josh Lyon, on a few different projects over the last years – we all really make a great team.”

“Kingston has never seen a show like this.  A life-size aquarium with projections, live music, and live dancing beside Lake Ontario… It’s a show you don’t want to miss.”

A 3D immersive preview of what audiences can expect to experience at Aqua Nova. Video by the Aqua Nova Collective via Don Maynard.

The Aqua Nova Collective invites everyone, community members and visitors to Kingston, to this free event to experience a unique and site-specific multimedia artwork. The exhibit will be open from 7:15 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 and Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in the Isabel Bader Center at 390 King St. W.

Read more about Aqua Nova on their website.

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