SPARK Exhibitions

"Changemakers" - A SPARK Festival Solo Artist Series

For its tenth year of presentations, the SPARK Disability Art Festival introduced a new Solo Artist Series, hosted in collaboration with Arts Commons and developed alongside the RBC Emerging Visual Artists Program. Featured in this showcase were seven emerging or early career artists—selected from SPARK’s ten-year exhibition history—who demonstrate exceptional talent and tenacity, and who represent Calgary’s next wave of professional artists living with a disability.

  • Changemakers | Arts Commons Window Galleries (across from the Max Bell), 205 8th Avenue SE, Calgary AB | Sept. 9 - Dec. 8

The 2019 "Changemakers" showcase was proud to spotlight: Amber Harriman, Daniel May, Eva Hontela, Lynn Cameron, Macarena Ruidiaz, Penny Gunderson and Shawn Belanger.

Leading with difference, the “Changemakers” exhibition enacted positive change in Calgary’s art sector by giving emerging artists with disabilities the best opportunity to launch their careers at a professional level. Spanning all media and genres for art-making, the themes of the exhibition evolved alongside its participants, encompassing the different ways that disabled identifying artists contribute to, create and experience culture. Through this exhibition, SPARK invited the public to meet, see and begin to understand what motivates great artists to create their work and impact their communities.


The exhibition ran from September 9 through December 8, with an artist reception at Arts Commons (Artist Learning Centre) on November 29.

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Matthew Carberry / From Concept to Comic


Directly following the "Changemakers" exhibition at Arts Commons, the SPARK Festival 2019 was pleased to partner with Studio C in presenting a new solo exhibition of current and past works by disabled-identifying artist Matthew Carberry.

  • From Concept to Comic | Studio C, #235, 1721 29th Avenue SW, Calgary AB | Dec. 5 - 17 | Gallery hours: Monday - Friday 9am - 4pm

Matthew Carberry (BFA) is a digital illustrator and painter specializing in cartooning, character design and comic book art. A long-time exhibiting artist with the SPARK Disability Art Festival, "From Concept to Comic" celebrated Carberry's advancing career while honouring one of SPARK's most prolific and trail-blazing artists working in new media.


A vibrant finale to SPARK's 2019 Solo Artist Series, Carberry's solo exhibit comprised a colourful cast of characters, immersive environments and fantastical storylines that positioned the artist as both author and participant in his own creations. This full gallery retrospective also offered a rare, behind-the-scenes look at comic-based art... emphasizing the underlying creative labor that turns each new drawing into a stand-alone work of art.

The exhibition at Studio C ran from December 5 through December 17, with an artist reception on December 12.

SPARK Community Partnerships

Nickle at Noon - Ian Kinney: Air Salt

Thursday, November 28 - 12:00PM

Gallery Hall - Main Floor - Taylor Family Digital Library, University of Calgary

SPARK continued to proudly partner with the U of C Nickle Galleries, hosting in 2019 an artist talk by Ian Kinney called Air Salt. Kinney recently completed an MA in creative writing from the Department of English, University of Calgary. His book of poetry, Air Salt (University of Calgary Press, 2019) explores his recovery from a multi-story fall. Using poetry as neuro-rehabilitation, Kinney (un)writes his hospitalization and recovery. Air Salt reflects Kinney’s lived experience of trauma, continually (re)arranging distorted phrases, interrogating and (re)forming itself, and (re)fusing to compromise.

For details, visit

Special thanks for this year's festival and community partnerships are extended to Natasha Jensen and Sanja Lukac (Visual and Media Arts Associate(s) at Arts Commons) for facilitating a brilliant collaboration between SPARK and the RBC Emerging Visual Artists Program. Gracious thanks are also extended to Rocio Graham (AUArts Students' Association) for partnering with SPARK in a mentorship capacity, and to Studio C for providing exhibition support. At the University of Calgary, thanks are extended to Michele Hardy (Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Art, Curator, Nickle Galleries) for presenting another inspired Nickle at Noon session in collaboration with SPARK, as well as guest speaker Ian Kinney.




©2019 by SPARK Disability Art Festival