Artist in residence

Our Artist in Residence program is an initiative of the culture plan. The program offers opportunities for artists to partner with the city to deliver community art projects to citizens of all ages, abilities, and experience.


On this page

  1. 2021 Artist in Residence
  2. Schedule of activities and challenges
  3. Artist biography
  4. Past artist in residence

2021 Artist in Residence

The City of Waterloo is pleased to announce Lucy Bilson as the 2021 Artist in Residence.

Throughout the summer, Bilson will engage the community in a series of community engagements both online and in-person. These engagements will invite the community to participate in the creation of a collaborative art project that will be exhibited throughout September and October 2021 during the city’s Culture Days festivities.

From July to October, the community is invited to follow Bilson through Create Waterloo’s social media and YouTube channel as she provides weekly instruction and programming. Community submissions will be assembled into visual displays, banners, and installations that will showcase the talent and resiliency of Waterloo as we all navigate the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic isolation and recovery.

The residency, which differs from other years, invites people to participate from their homes by submitting their artwork submissions online. All activities and videos will be posted online at YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.


Schedule of activities and challenges

  • July 9, 2021 — Introduction to participate
  • July 13, 2021 — Scavenger Hunt: Waterloo is Creative
  • July 20, 2021 — Project challenge launch
  • July 27, 2021 — Scavenger Hunt: Waterloo as a Bee City
  • August 3, 2021 — Project challenge: Can you find shapes, patterns, and textures in nature? Together we’ll explore how we can look for and find things to inspire us to create!
  • August 10, 2021 — Scavenger Hunt: Waterloo as a community of neighbours
  • August 17, 2021 — Project challenge: Let’s explore our city parks!
  • August 24, 2021 — Scavenger Hunt: Waterloo as a place filled with wildlife
  • August 31, 2021 — Project challenge: Let’s talk creativity and how to get creative
  • September 7, 2021 — Scavenger Hunt: Waterloo as an inclusive space that belongs to all of us, where we all belong and can participate in and enjoy parks and trails
  • September 14, 2021 — Project challenge: Let’s explore some natural spaces in Waterloo
  • September 21, 2021— Scavenger Hunt: Trails as connectors through the city and as networks of nature
  • September 28, 2021 — Project challenge: Connecting all of your submissions
  • October 4, 2021 — Sneak peaks of the final collaborative art work
  • October 11, 2021 — Treasure Hunt: Find your artwork along the trails!
  • October 25, 2021 — Prize week to celebrate the involvement of community artists and participants

Participate in this artist’s work. Submit your work using our online form.


Artist biography

Bilson is a designer, researcher, and educator working at the periphery of contemporary graphic design practice. In addition to operating Lucy Bilson Design, Bilson’s creative practice explores the interdisciplinary space between design and art, often using her work to contest the boundaries of contemporary practice.


Past artists

Learn about past artist programs, view sample works where available and find where some of the past work is currently displayed around Waterloo.

2020 program

The 2020 program hosted Richard Burrows and Christa Mercey as the 2020 Artists in Residence. Throughout the summer, Burrows and Mercey presented a unique opportunity for the community to participate in an art project culminating into two community anthems, O’Canada, and an original song, We are Waterloo.  

Each week, new elements of the two songs, O’Canada and We are Waterloo, were added through sheet music online and through video tutorials on YouTube. Participants of every level were encouraged to follow along, create their own videos, and submit their creations. These were be assembled into final versions of the songs which premiered as part of Waterloo’s online Canada Day celebrations and at the end of September as part of the City’s Culture Days programming.

Each week sheet music was provided, and the 2020 Artist in Residence assembled a final community version of a song.

O Canada - guitar (PDF)

O Canada - uke (PDF)

O Canada - drums (PDF)

View click track on YouTube.

Watch the videos they created on the Create Waterloo YouTube.

2019 program

The 2019 program was hosted in Veteran's Green weekly from July to October. The community was invited to meet with artist Paul McDonald as he held sessions to discuss the art he was creating.

McDonald's project saw the development of a temporally large scale installations that celebrated elements of the unique neighbourhood located between Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, bound by University Avenue West, Phillip Street, Columbia Street West and King Street North known as Northdale. Over the past 25 years, the area has seen permanent residents replaced by a student population and rental housing.

2018 program

The 2018 program was hosted in Waterloo Park to celebrate its 125th anniversary, with Denise St Marie and Timothy Walker of St Marie φ Walker selected as the artists.

Their project, Prose in the Park, included hands-on workshops, word walks, storytelling activities, word treasure hunts and other activities in the park.

2017 program

As the 2017 artist in residence, Barbara Hobot facilitated a community-wide art initiative. "Growing Together: A Neighbourhood Cookbook Project" collected the art, recipes, instructions, and family memories of community members to produce a published collective of community stories.

Throughout the project, Hobot worked with community members to collect their stories and visuals during free workshops. These workshops were held in parks and community gardens across Waterloo. No experience was necessary and all materials were provided. There was also an opportunity to share recipes by email or scanning at designated city facilities.

"Growing Together" aimed to explore neighbourhood identity and foster inclusivity by encouraging discussion among neighbours from diverse backgrounds. The project also supported the development of Waterloo's neighbourhood strategy.

View the cookbook (PDF)
2016 program

As the 2016 Artist in Residence, Michele Braniff held a series of free, hands-on workshops, story-telling tours, and urban sketching meet-ups. Her project, "Community Re-construction of Waterloo Construction 2016" engaged the public in crafts, collaborative art, and the exploration of community ecosystems.

The collaborative project offered participants a chance to engage with construction and development in Waterloo through a new lens. Together, the community and artist constructed a continuous image depicting the look and feel of the area during the span of the residency.

2015 program

In 2015, Waterloo artist Rick Nixon, was selected as the city's first artist in residence. Nixon held a series of free, hands-on workshops at the Albert McCormick Community Centre. His project "Birdhouse Installation" engaged the public in crafts, collaborative art, art installation, and the exploration of community ecosystems.

During the workshops, Nixon invited citizens to think about the area surrounding the community centre and participate in the creation of bird houses that reflect the community and the facility. Participants were encouraged to incorporate found objects into the sculptures. The birdhouses were later installed in gardens around the community centre.