A rock and a sense of commitment helped this Digital Arts and Media alum carve out an unexpected career
When Jason Carter received a rock as a gift, he had no idea it would help chart the course for a new career and change his life in unimaginable ways.
After graduating from MacEwan University’s Digital Arts and Media program in 2003, the aspiring filmmaker was working as a camera operator on the Edmonton morning television program, Breakfast Television. “I had no idea that I would be the visual artist that I am today,” says Jason. “My intention when I first enrolled at MacEwan was to pursue film, and possibly go to film school.”
But when he was gifted the rock, he began to chip away at it and within hours, a raven emerged, along with a passion for stone sculpture and carving. “From that day forward, a passion for the visual arts was unleashed in me,” he says. “The skill set I developed at MacEwan gave me the confidence and the ability to pursue that passion.”
By 2008, Jason had held his first solo sculpture show, and since then has become recognized as one of the foremost contemporary sculptors and visual artists to emerge from the Alberta arts scene. His work has been featured at and commissioned by numerous galleries and organizations, including the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Edmonton Arts Council, Syncrude, and the Government of Canada. He has created large-scale installations for the Edmonton International airport, the Calgary International Airport, the Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality and the Moose Hotel in Banff.
Jason has also collaborated on a series of children’s books with Theatre Arts alum Bridget Ryan. Together, the pair opened the Carter-Ryan Gallery and Live Art Venue in Canmore in 2011. They opened a second gallery this past spring in Banff.
“ He looked at me and said, Don’t get good at something you don’t want to do.” Jason Carter
Though Jason’s career has taken many unexpected turns, it has been defined by a firm commitment to pursuing his passion, a habit he picked up during his MacEwan days. “I had a photography instructor named Paul Saturley,” he recalls. “I showed him a graphic design portfolio that I was putting together and he said, ‘Why? Do you want to be a graphic designer?’ I replied, ‘No, I want to be a filmmaker.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Don’t get good at something you don’t want to do.’”
That advice stuck with Jason. “The takeaway was to be the absolute best at what you love doing, to commit,” he says. That sense of commitment remains strong to this day—he currently carves or paints seven days a week.
We acknowledge that the land on which we gather in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home.