POSITIVITY SHACK: a project by Heidi Nagtegaal

Artist Statement by Heidi Nagtegaal

POSITIVITY SHACK: a project by Heidi Nagtegaal, as a part of the queer Arts and Crafts exhibition Craftivism in New York.


Exhibition Performances Installations Videos Workshops Panel
July 12, 13, 14, 2013
Le Petit Versailles @ Avenue C 346 East Houston Street, New York
Curated by Coral Short


Heidi Nagtegaal: POSITIVITY SHACK is based on the radical notion that your community can support you. That you can feed into your community, and your community can feed you back. As an artist you could say that I lean heavily in social practice, using materials, installations, environments, ephemera, and interaction to engage in participant driven “happenings,” which can be documented through film, photography, drawings, etc. Previously, I had a large practice of interactive soft sculptures, using textiles as a way to engage with publics. I’ve worked with festivals, galleries, museums, streets, groups, community centres, institutions, and grassroots organizations.


I run a residency program in my house called HAMMOCK RESIDENCY, which offers artists a space to create, reflect, and exhibit their work in a non-coercive, co-creative setting. BACK YARD MUSIC FESTIVAL is our biennial, which focuses on independent and emergent practices, in visual art, sound, dance, film, performance, and installation.

It’s my biggest dream to work and live in my community, and be supported by the people that I interact with on a daily basis. I want to know my neighbours, and I want my neighbours to know me. I want my neighbours to text me to “turn it down a bit” at a late night hang out, instead of calling the cops. I want my 1 street over neighbour to teach me landscaping, and my 2 street over neighbour to come over and take some of the free stuff from the perpetual market in the front yard. We live in the biggest city in BC, and yet, the #1 complaint in Vancouver is social isolation. I’m not talking about “friends” or “being popular” or “how many people like you on Facebook” but rather the bravery to step outside of the comfort zone of our cars, homes, and fenced off yards, and say hello.

1,000 t-shirts

I used to have $60,000 worth of student loans. Now I have $20,000. If I make and sell 1,000 t-shirts at a $20 profit each, I will be debt free. It is with this intent that POSITIVITY SHACK is formed, based on local economies, everyone helping everyone out, mutual aid, resourcefulness, and creativity. Each shirt as been repurposed, and is hand silkscreened by myself and with friends in the area, using images that I’ve made while thinking about this project. This is the 2nd instalment of POSITIVITY SHACK, the first being in the Chinatown Market in Vancouver BC, and the 3rd being in Kensington Market in Toronto ON.
POSITIVITY SHACK is a part of THE SCHOOL OF THE FREE HAMMOCK, a 2 year mentorship based MFA program that I designed for myself. Part of my curriculum includes paying off the remainder of my student loans, and leaving TSOTFH debt free, not with more debt from an MFA program, but with NO debt from either BFA or MFA or other studies taken along the way. HAMMOCK RESIDENCY is hosting TSOTFH (September 2012 – September 2014) and my goal is to graduate debt free at the end of August 2014, at the third BACK YARD MUSIC FESTIVAL.


About Heidi Nagtegaal

Heidi Nagtegaal is an artist, writer and facilitator living in Vancouver, BC, Canada. She has recently exhibited in the Tate Modern (London, UK) for the No Soul For Sale: A Festival of Independents, with the Western Front, Äkkigalleria (Jyväskylä, Finland), Vancouver Art Gallery, Burnaby Art Gallery, Richmond Art Gallery, CSA, Signal and Noise, and portable gallery spaces worldwide.

Related Links

New York: Craftivism Presents Revolutionary Artists a curatorial statement by Coral Short.