Teri (Chmilar) Lamb

Video Artist

teri_lamb

Published, EAC Communiqué, January 1993

T

he untapped potential of Community TV Programming for the Fergus-Elora area has lured Media artist Teri Lamb back to studio work. Teri brings experience and strong vision to her new position as Programme Director for Fergus-Elora Cable TV. She hopes to develop the Community Channel not only to record daily events with quality but also as a hands-on facility for people to express their views on local issues. These may highlight the effects of political decisions or simply present warm human themes. Teri’s vision is to promote F-E TV as a reservoir of equipment and expertise available for our use and expression. Workshops to teach on-location camera, script writing, film editing, production and post-production skills are part of her blueprint to change passive TV viewers into active participants.

More familiar to the media world by her maiden name Teri Chmilar, she has worked in the medium of video since her days at Ontario College of Art. Her experimental and documentary films have been screened across Canada and internationally since 1976. She began at a time when the video camera was cumbersome, and elementary. She experimented with rhythmic images through editing. The hard-won results had a freshness and gusto which is absent in video today. “The innocence is gone,” she reflects.

Commissioned by Women In Crisis to do a film on Family Violence in the mid ‘70s, the intensity and immediacy of the experience turned Teri toward documentaries on social issues. After visiting the Toronto transition home “Nellie’s”, she applied for a Canada Council grant, and produced a 42 minute on-location colour video which sought to present issues at “Nellie’s” with freshness and intuition at a mature level. She developed a direct style devoid of narrative which let eloquent images hold the story. At this time she met two women who were to be the focus of other Chmilar documentaries: Ada, the subject of a film chosen to represent video as a dynamic visual art in the 1983 multi media show on Women and Aging in Vancouver, and Pearl, an eccentric woman living and surviving on the streets of Toronto filmed over a period of five years. The textures of contradictions which are reflected in these films, the soft masking the hard, are typical of her work. She continued the Institutional theme in the award winning Sudz, presenting laundromats with humour and social insight in 1982.

Teri’s artistry is a fusion of diversified visual training. Her strongly independent nature reflects the space and rocky landscape of Sudbury where she grew up on a 75 acre farm. In High School, she was fortunate to come under the influence of an art teacher who specialized in printmaking, and to find friends among developing artists already producing mature work with strong concepts.

 

At 16 she left Sudbury with five dollars in her pocket to try her luck at the Ontario College of Art, and began school shortly after. A general course of drawing, sculpture and printmaking also introduced her to film making. In her fourth year she explored aspects of photography, Super 8 Video and 16mm films in The Annex at OCA, where innovation dominated. In addition, through summer and full time courses following OCA, she obtained a B.A at University of Guelph. In 1976, studying under Noel Harding at U of G, the scope and span of the new medium video caught and held her.

During her last year of university Teri became involved with Ed Video, a cooperative in Guelph which provides access to expensive and essential equipment for video artists. The equipment, bought on a LIP grant to teach video techniques in schools, ended up untended in a factory when the project was completed. In 1979, Teri gathered this together and co-ordinated Ed Video as a facility in a room adjoining her apartment. The cooperative grew and links were forged with other centres across the country as video itself became mainstream. In 1990, Teri was given the Ten Year Service Award by the Ministry of Culture and Communications.

Through Ed Video, Teri began to edit and create the documentaries still screened internationally today. Since early involvement with the group she has been married to film graduate David Lamb. Her work with Maclean-Hunter TV Channel 8 in Guelph as Community Programmer co-ordinating ninety volunteers, and her freelance involvement in post-production design at OMAF slowed down with the advent of Isaac, their son in 1991. Now she’s ready for the challenge of programming with quality and substance for Fergus-Elora TV.

“When video began, it was thought that one day the video revolution would hit the world and be the tongue of the people,” she says. That revolution is here. Perhaps  Teri Lamb will teach us to speak with a new voice.

by Beverley Cairns, January 1993

 At 16 she left Sudbury with five dollars in her pocket to try her luck at the Ontario College of Art.

UPDATE – 1997

In March ‘93, Teri curated an evening of artists’ videos: “Cultural Rhythms”, which explored the rhythmic characteristics of a personal culture. She also created the documentary “Birthdays”, which works with the testimonials of five mothers and fathers describing response to childbirth. In ‘94 Teri took part in the festive 15th Anniversary Project of Ed Video, Guelph.

UPDATE

Teri no longer works with Fergus-Elora TV. Her videos, like “Come Back”, continue to be seen at festivals across Canada.