Community Profile- Joan Sullivan

HLSL would like to congratulate Joan Sullivan of Saint-Valérien-de-Rimouski for her Canada Council for the Arts grant for the creation of her abstract photographic project, Becoming River (Je suis fleuve) and recent exhibit LA VOIX DES GLACES.   

Joan Sullivan is a familiar name in Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence circles. Resident of the Lower Saint Lawrence since 2008, Sullivan is also a member of the HLSL Board of Directors since 2019.

For more than a  decade, this accomplished photographer, multi-disciplinary artist and writer focused exclusively on climate change issues, criss-crossing Canada and the United States to document energy transition with a focus on the men and women building utility-scale wind and solar installations. 

Fast forward to 2023, Joan’s photography is described as a shift to the abstract, almost existential. And that journey in itself is quite the story. During her studies in artistic practice (Étude de la pratique artistique) from 2019-2021 at the University of Québec in Rimouski (UQAR), Joan had an emotional breakdown standing on the shores of an iceless Saint Lawrence River in the middle of winter, at the same time as Australia’s ecologically devastating Black Summer bushfires killed countless animals and plants. Joan follows life and climate change in Australia because her daughter, Anna Lemay, lives there. In a moment of intense grief, Joan realised that her entire body was shaking, as if to embody the chaos of climate breakdown. And the result? A blurred almost mystical mirage of obscure images revealing a river undergoing profound changes. And so was born Joan’s ongoing abstract photographic project, Becoming River (Je suis fleuve), part of which was created during a winter residency at the Reford Gardens. A selection of images from Becoming River has been exhibited in six galleries to date – four in the LSL, one in Quebec City, and most recently in Carleton-sur-Mer. An article about her latest installation, LA VOIX DES GLACES, a collaboration with the sound artist Robin Servant, was published in Le Devoir in February 2023.

For those of you who would like to see one of Joan’s photos from her Becoming River series, stop by the HLSL’s Rimouski Resource Center. Another of her photos is hanging at one of the Reford Gardens   rental location – Eco House, 132