Moozhan Ahmadzadegan and Brooklyn Bellmond are recent graduates from UBCO’s Fine Arts program. Throughout their years as undergrads, their ethos was always about inclusion and diversity within the arts, which they were able to promote through their roles as President and Vice-President of the Visual Arts Course Union. After graduating, it only made sense to the duo that their involvement in the arts community would continue beyond the parameters of the university. In fact, their strong connection to the artistic community has been the driving force behind The Laundry Room Collective, an intimate space they created to host events, workshops, and exhibitions in Lake Country—and yes, it all began in a laundry room.
I sat down with Moozhan and Brooklyn over Zoom to discuss their current projects, their experiences at university, and their outlook on the local arts community.
Jayme: Can one of you describe to me what the Laundry Room Collective is and why you named it that?
Brooklyn: The Laundry Room Collective actually started in the Lake Country Art House, which is a house that was acquired by the Lake Country Art Gallery about 6-7 years ago. The studio we were renting from there was actually the laundry room of that house. Together, we already knew that we wanted to start a collective to give back to the community. So, starting with the space that we had in the laundry room and the art house, there was room for us to host public workshops and events. We’re always trying to bridge the artistic community between Lake Country and Kelowna, and through that, also promote the talent within our communities.
Jayme: What inspired you to start this project?
Moozhan: Brooklyn and I have been pretty involved in the arts community since being undergrads. The idea of connecting people and creating opportunities for artists really excited us, especially in the Okanagan where there isn’t always a lot of that happening. It was actually Brooklyn’s idea to start the collective. We acquired the studio space together and she really wanted to start something, so we did. It was an opportunity to continue making connections in the community and fostering culture through arts. It was also a way for us to promote our personal mandates of inclusivity, diversity, and supporting marginalized people by making space for that kind of work.
Jayme: What made you decide to do this as a partnership? Tell me about your relationship.
Brooklyn: Moozhan and I met in our fine arts degree at UBCO, so we had a good four years of getting to know each other and building a relationship together. In our fourth year, Moozhan was the President of the Visual Arts Course Union and I was the Vice-President, so we already had a background of working together and figuring out what kind of events were important to us. Through that experience, we also had to make a lot of decisions about what was important to the different communities within the university. Aside from that, we also became very close friends. Within our art, a lot of our themes—while different—also reflected each other, what our values were, and what we wanted to push for in culture and in art, so it just kind of made sense to keep working with those themes together and with the community. After school, we remained friends and we were still talking about our art and the community and having those important discussions. When we found the studio and were able to work together in that space, it really made sense that we would use it to create something more with our talents and our passions.
Jayme: What are one or two key things you learned in your degree at UBCO that has helped you in your current art world endeavors?
Moozhan: I would say in the arts especially, you really have to be a—I like to use the word “hustler” just because it’s hilarious—but you have to find opportunities outside the classroom if you want to go anywhere. It’s really the connections you make, who you know, the experiences on your resume, and all those little things that are going to open up opportunities for you. Art is competitive, so it’s about what else you’re doing outside of your degree. I noticed that I really enjoyed being involved outside of the classroom, not just for the advantages that it gave me, but because I realized it was actually something that was really important to me—to be involved in the community, making connections with people, and meeting other artists. That was a big learning curve for me and it’s really created a lot of opportunities, including The Laundry Room Collective.
Brooklyn: I totally agree with what you said at the end there, it’s fulfilling work. When I started studying, I didn’t really know what fulfilling work was, what that would look like, or how it could be done. With the visual arts degree, we have to put on a show at the end of the year. So, in a more technical aspect, it taught me a lot about putting on events, all of the nitty-gritty stuff behind the ideas, and more or less what was actually possible. But it also opened up that way of thinking about how it doesn’t have to be your career, but you can still do the work and feel fulfilled. I learned how important that is as well, to think about it in those terms rather than more economic ones.
Jayme: What do you envision for the future of the Laundry Room Collective?
Brooklyn: For me, I think it will continue to be a method for how we share our ideas and interact with the community, whether through social media or events, but for me I see it as a slow and fulfilling long-term project.
Moozhan: I think as long as it makes sense to keep going, then we will. As things pop up, we take advantage of them. So as long as the ideas keep coming, we’ll keep going.
Check out The Laundry Room Collective here: