ICE BOX 2021 goes virtual amid pandemic

ICE BOX, an annual wintertime celebration of local art, will be held online this year. (Adam Bramburger/Gazette file photo)



With the number of weekend celebratory events  dwindling during the COVID-19 pandemic, local arts organization The Department of Illumination has chosen to continue its ‘pandemic pivot’ to keep bringing joy, merriment and creativity to the people of Prince Edward County by going virtual with their first event of 2021, ICE BOX.

The event kicks off on a screen near you on Sat. Feb 20.

The third incarnation of their much-loved winter arts event, ICE BOX has been transformed into an at-home/ physically distanced festival with three main components: an at-home activity box, free online programming and an art exhibition featuring works from 66 community members.

The “ICE BOX in a Box” is designed by a team of ten artists and chock full of activities to help keep people creative and connected while at home. Filled with fun and surprises for all ages, the limited quantity of boxes quickly sold out online.

“We started ICE BOX in 2019 to offer our community fun and creative activities during what is for many people the hardest time of the year,” said Artistic Director Krista Dalby in a statement. “We all know this winter has been particularly challenging, so when we learned we’d received some federal funding, we knew we had to find a way to bring our creative magic into people’s homes. Art has the power to lift people’s spirits and we need that more than ever.” 

In addition to the activity boxes, ICE BOX will also feature free online programming including video tutorials to inspire creativity and daily Zoom dance parties. The festival wraps up February 28 with some physically distanced dance flash mobs led by dancer and choreographer Arwyn Carpenter.

Artists involved with ICE BOX include Mehdi Agahi, Arwyn Carpenter, Nella Casson, Krista Dalby, Milé Murtanovski, Hri Neil, Andrea Piller, Chrissy Poitras, Susanne Larner, Kyle Topping, Susan Wallis, Bay Woodyard and 66 community artists involved in the Art in Isolation project.

Also as part of ICE BOX is the culmination of Art in Isolation PEC, an outdoor art exhibition in Armoury Square on Main Street Picton. The project was started by Dalby and photographer Mehdi Agahi during the spring 2020 lockdown when they invited the community to create and share artwork over a one-month period. The resulting exhibition features 96 works by 66 artists. 

“It’s like a time capsule from that month of our shared history,” Dalby said in a statement. “It’s powerful.” 

They have also produced a catalogue of the collected works which is available for purchase.

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