A children's tour sits together in a museum.
Photo: Carey Shaw

Art equals limitless possibilities for Program Guide

Brenda Feist

Job title and department
Program Guide

Describe the work you do
I lead public, corporate, and school tours for all ages, and design and facilitate artmaking activities and programming in conjunction with Remai Modern exhibitions.

What attracted you to work at Remai Modern?
Everything attracted me to work here. From the architecture, the space and light, to the people involved to the philosophy and direction of the leadership. It’s an opportunity to be a part of something so well thought-out and open to evolving.

What is your favourite thing about working here?
There is no favourite thing. They all work together. 1. The people I meet and talk to 2. The people I work with 3. The art itself. 4. The opportunity to work in a space that is constantly changing while asking hard questions, giving comfort, and validating things that are sometimes hard for people to articulate. I also love the diversity of artists and viewer and art, whether that be age, gender, race, geography, etc.

What is a recent project you’re excited about?
Art camps. I love them. I love the possibilities inherent in immersing kids in artmaking and viewing for a week. I love the interactions, the laughs, the profound comments, and the art itself. It’s pure, it’s honest, it’s unafraid.

What I love about art is that it never stands still. It’s always moving, completely rearranged by each viewer that stands before it, according to their filter/experiences/histories.

Share a memory of a time where you felt proud to work at Remai Modern.
Again, way too many memories of swelling with pride. I feel it almost everyday. Every time someone has an experience of the gallery or the art and feels compelled to tell me about it, I am honoured to be part of those conversations, revelations, epiphanies. A favourite memory I have, though, is of doing a public tour when an older couple from Hungary, turned the corner and gasped seeing Fred Mendel [founder of Remai Modern’s predecessor the Mendel Art Gallery] and his horses/horse trainer (Alag by Ignac Konrad) and recognizing the man on the horse in the centre as the Regent of Hungary at the time. They gave me a complete history of Hungary between the world wars and it forever altered my experience of that painting. I’d seen the work 100 time before and always thought it seemed to be about a man and his wealth. Now it was full of new questions. Mendel was Jewish, the Regent was placed when the King was exiled. The conversation revealed all these new layers. I am crazy about those shifts in the way we can open up or have an artwork opened up right before our eyes.

An arts educator stands behind a table demonstrating an activity to a class of students
Photo: Carey Shaw
A Remai Modern program guide leads a tour of highschool students through Rebecca Belmore's exhibition at Remai Modern
Rebecca Belmore, Facing the Monumental, Installation view, Remai Modern, 2019. Photo Carey Shaw

What do you love about art?
What I love about art is that it never stands still. It’s always moving, completely rearranged by each viewer that stands before it, according to their filter/experiences/histories. People walk through a gallery and see a work of art and think they’re done but they don’t realize that same work moves differently under every viewer’s eye.

Why should people visit art museums?
To be changed, transformed, expanded by another point of view. To be presented with the opportunity to understand another’s experience or an old idea in a new way; and to recognize, given half a chance, that their filter is not the entire world, but just a fragment of the kaleidoscope. Art, itself, is healing. Shaped and formed by an artist’s hands and lens and spirit, hard things can be taken in/digested more easily. If it’s alluring enough, we will spend time with ideas we may reject any other way.

A Remai Modern program guide assists two students with a linocut print activity
Photo: Carey Shaw

Look for Brenda during your next visit on a public tour or in the Cameco Learning Studio. Feel free to ask her questions or strike up a conversation about art.