Keeley Haftner Image
Keeley Haftner '11
Keeley Haftner has made it her mission to turn perceived trash into treasure. The Fine Arts grad and nationally-noted artist recently curated Galleryfill, a permanent public installation commissioned by Third Space, an artist-run centre for contemporary art.

Haftner, who is also a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago explains, “To produce the installation, we collected unwanted artworks from artists in the City of Saint John, while I also collected pieces from artists in Chicago. These works are being used to produce an underground gallery installed to landfill standards by layering stones, sand, clay, leachate barriers and felt.”

A publication will be produced in conjunction with the work.

This latest project fits well with Haftner’s artistic practice.

“I am a sculptor who works with waste using a wide variety of intensive processes, ranging from 3D printing to glass blowing,” she says. “I aim to express the complexity and contradiction of our current ecologic-less condition, and give my objects a poetic context in which to be considered. I often say that if I can seduce a viewer into wanting to lick or steal an object I’ve transformed – an object that was once broken glass or an abject disposable cup – I feel I’ve succeeded.”

Originally from Saskatoon, SK, Haftner calls her path to Mount Allison “serendipitous and a bit ironic.”

“I (came to Mount Allison) for two reasons. Firstly, I was told by a mentor with whom I’d been painting figuratively that Mount Allison was one of the last heavily traditional programs left in Canada. Secondly, I wanted a degree in case I eventually decided to teach,” she says.

While she considered other schools on both coasts, Haftner is grateful for her Mount Allison decision. 

“The killer combination of intimate class time, intensive studio training, contemporary rigour, and Sackville’s community-oriented vitality proved to be formative for me,” she says.

Following graduation, Haftner completed residencies in Canada and internationally and then returned to Saskatoon to practise as an artist while her partner worked on his PhD. While back in Saskatoon, Haftner founded the Street Meet Festival for street and graffiti art, which has been going for five years, and also produced a public sculpture that started a national dialogue around public art and value.

Currently residing and making art in Chicago, Haftner will return to Sackville in 2017 for a residency at Struts Gallery.