“As I reflect on my career as a jeweller, designer, performance artist, cultural ambassador, poet and educator I have come to realize that every creative decision has brought me closer to artistic enlightenment.”
Dee Fontans has dedicated her working career and life to the development of the arts as a master craftsman, volunteer and educator. She is a part of the sessional faculty at the Alberta College of Art + Design (ACAD) and teaches in the Jewelery + Metals program and the Wearable Art class. Fontans studied fashion design at Parsons The New School of Design in NYC and jewellery at the State University of New York. Dee came to Calgary in 1988 to continue her artistic journey and to build a life.
In April 2010 Ms. Fontans was listed by Avenue Magazine as one of the top ten tastemakers in Calgary. Dee was named the tenth most important artist in Calgary in 2003 for her international art practice presented at the Triangle gallery and was given the Award of Honour from the Alberta Crafts Council for her commitment to fine craft and education in 2006. Dee is a Culture Ambassador for Calgary 2012. Fontans organized “Dee’s Team” which consists of artists, photographers, models, hair and makeup people videoographers and writers. They came together to perform at the Sweet City Woman gala and the Sweet City Woman video, Dee appeared in the Bow Dress, The Year of the Dragon Dress and Pumping Fashion at the Lilacs Festival, the Chinese New Years parade, as host of ArtaWEARness, ArtWEAR wearable art director, judge at the Grave Gala in support of CPO, a Druh Farrell community social and represented the arts at the Mayors Business lunch.
Dee’s artistic practice is diverse. She is inspired by material and concept. The artwork produced is under the title Outing The Body (OTB). OTB is a series of related pieces that blurs boundaries and fuses together fine jewelry, fashion design and performance art. She is able to invent a message, an idea that promotes conversation and critical thinking. Fontans shares her creative vision with the students at ACAD, in the classrooms of local high schools and through international workshops. Dee inspires the emerging artists to trust their inner voice and create their own artistic path.
Dee is a “Connector”. Malcolm Gladwell author of the Topping Point says, “Connectors are translators: they take ideas and information from a highly specialized world and translate them into a language the rest of us can understand. Connectors make change happen through people because they’re all about people.” Fontans uses television and social media as a vehicle to educate the public about art and design. She considers television to be an effective way to propagate cultural change and reach those people in the community not engaged with the arts. She volunteers her time and expertise presenting and interviewing on City TV, Global, SHAW TV, CBC and CTV programs. She has been filmed for CBC Art Spots, Lynda McPhee’s Workshop on PBS and the HGTV program That’s Clever! and TLC’s Perfect Proposals. Dee’s Team was featured for a NuTV documentary on the creative process, “I educate through entertainment.”
In 2000 Fontans partnered with a group of ACAD students to produce the first ArtaWEARness, a cross disciplinary Wearable Art exhibition in motion. The event has been performed for 12 years to an audience of 800 at each event. The popularity of ArtaWEARness amongst the students changed the curriculum at ACAD and Dee created a surreal fashion performance class. The importance of the Wearable Art movement has inspired other art institutions including Art Central and the Art Gallery of Calgary (AGC). Dee’s students performed at Art Centrals Birthday party for 6 years with attendance reaching 500 at each event. These people were exposed to the art galleries and independent practicing artist exhibiting in the space. Fontans and her students also support the AGC’s ARTwear fundraiser. The ACAD Wearable Art class is a major attraction to raise funds for the junior art educational programs for the AGC. Dee is currently designing with the Make Fashion collective, an initiative collaboration of technology the arts and is Curating a wearable art performance for the 2013 Senior Winter Games.
Dee Fontans is a role model, creating art history. She builds community and liaisons bridging the arts, business, government and the general public through artistic activities.