Chris Battaglia is a multidisciplinary artist. In 2011, he responded to an ad to be a “badass digital storyteller” for a nonprofit, which led him to live and work in Laos, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and subsequently New York. In 2017, he was the documentary filmmaker for an 1,150-mile canoe-paddling expedition down the Lower Mississippi River for the Lower Mississippi River Foundation. In 2018, he founded the Village Canoe, an artist residency and exhibition program at the intersection of arts and the outdoors in Maine. In 2020, he worked remotely with artist Harrell Fletcher in a series of directed studies, supported by a grant from the Public Art Learning Fund.
The Village Canoe is a floating artist residency program with follow-up group exhibition. In its first phase, 10 artists were chosen by a jury from a free open call application, and paddled in two 30’ canoes with a Maine Guide, and I - as project leader/facilitator - from Bangor, down the Penobscot River, and out to Penobscot Bay. We camped along riverbanks and on islands along the Maine coast between Bangor and Brooklin, making artwork inspired by Maine wilderness, and creating community while participating in artist programming, throughout. One month following the 10-day residency, the experience culminated with a retrospective show at Waterfall Arts, alongside a 3-day, free, public art exhibition along the Belfast waterfront in a 40’ temporary structure. Artists exhibited work across various media (sculpture, painting, photography, fiber, audio/video), and performed dance; select craftspeople provided workshops and demonstrations on carving half-hull canoe models and paddles; musicians led a community singing workshop on traditional paddling “worksongs”; the exhibition opened with one of the artists-in-residence leading a near-100-person parade through the center of downtown Belfast. The entire weekend was documented through photographs and on film with a local filmmaker and collaborator.
The second and current phase is to complete is the construction of a big canoe to be used for future residency and community-building programming.