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It takes a village … of artists

Sep 29, 2014

In a small fishing village off the northern coast of Newfoundland, one alumna is helping pave the way for a sustainable economy. But Nicole Lattuca, ‘01, is not in the industry you would expect: She is neither an investor, nor fisherman, but an artist. 

After working with the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, Lattuca, who holds a degree in fine art and graphic design, became interested in a project architect Todd Saunders was developing on Fogo Island. Plans called for artist studios and a luxury inn as part of a way to diversify and revitalize the island’s local economy. 

Fogo Island, one of Canada’s oldest communities, has seen hard times in recent years after commercial and government offshore fishing destroyed much of its livelihood. But an organization called the Shorefast Foundation has been working to jumpstart the economy through various collaborative endeavors. With the initiatives of artists like Saunders and Lattuca, the community is making a comeback. 

In particular, the Shorefast Foundation has established the Fogo Island Arts, an artist residency that brings creative minds from the around the world to engage in, study and help develop the island’s cultural landscape. 

“Their goal is to assist economic growth by adding tourism to the existing economy of fishing,” Lattuca said. “It’s a contemporary approach to bring a population back to the island. The residency and the inn have provided jobs and increased tourism.” 

Inspired by the impact art culture was making in this tiny village, Lattuca began to draft a project that would reach out to younger generations of islanders.

“I proposed to create an educational program for the Fogo Island community about the contemporary architecture project as a way to get youth involved with the changes on their island,” Lattuca explained.

An art curator who specializes in experimental education projects, Lattuca proposed her idea of a traveling school program called the Fogo Island De-Centralized Academy to the Shorefast Foundation. She was awarded a residency on the island soon after. 

For the past few months, Lattuca has immersed herself in the Fogo Island culture, spending time with fisherman and hunters, and learning more about the landscape and history of the island. She was continuing her research this summer before the new school program was implemented in September.

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