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Exhibitions 2021 - 2022

ANTHROPOCENE

Brennan Munshaw

ANTHROPOCENE aims to explore the intersection of humanity and the natural world. The goal of this exhibition is to provide a space for people to examine how they view human dominance over nature and how their lifestyles contribute to the Anthropocene Epoch; the unit of time that describes the period that human activity has had a significant impact on the Earth’s processes and physical makeup.

Human motifs of built form, technology, and urbanism are imposed upon natural motifs of organic form, environmental interactions, and time, in manners which they both clash and synthesize.

You can see more of Brennan’s work on Instagram @brennan.munshaw, as well as his website.

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Exhibitions 2021 - 2022

RECOVERY FOR ME, RECOVERY FOR ALL

Anna Golding

RECOVERY FOR ME, RECOVERY FOR ALL, is an in-progress documentation of my recovery from breast reduction surgery. After my surgery in fall 2021 I developed feelings of shame and embarrassment towards my healing body. To ward off these feelings and to cope with my new body I started painting it. 

Take notice of the dried blood underneath the crusted surgical tape and the scarring running down the breasts’ curve, which in some cases are misshapen and bruised. Not only are these once-thought embarrassing details present in the paintings but brazenly emphasized with bold, almost blinding colours. 

I found out quickly that painting the stages of my recovery was important in tracking my physical healing, reaffirming my decision to get the surgery in the first place, and to console and resolve the abuse I’ve been feeding myself internally since the surgery, and long before that. 

I will bring attention to the beauty and strength of my own body, that of which I have only recently discovered, from all stages of my recovery up to the present. Viewers will leave the exhibition with awareness and a changed perspective of the negative stigma surrounding healing bodies. 


This exhibition will be as much for myself as it is for others, hence its title: RECOVERY FOR ME, RECOVERY FOR ALL

You can find more of Anna’s work on Instagram @art.oclock.with.anna

Categories
Exhibitions 2021 - 2022

Manifold

Specialized Studio – Fall ’21

Gallery Map – designed by Maeve Hind
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Forced Depth

Emil White

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Artist Statement

These past five years I have specialized and constructed much of my practice within photography, video, and other digital media. Through experimentation with digital and analogue techniques of abstraction, my work explores topics centered around mindfulness and self-image, as they pertain to our increasingly digital, yet physically fragile society. However, this year, as evidenced by my works presented in Manifold, my practice has undergone a conceptual and material shift as explorations of performance and sculpture have become my primary focus. 
 
My second piece in Manifold is a sculpture titled Forced Depth. The 3D printed sculpture of the phrase “Sorry” toys with the idea of the cheap repetitive apology that loses significance when not reinforced by action. Over the last near decade of my life, I have observed how unlearning and reconciliation can feel uncomfortable. Struggling to face this, Forced Depth is a sculpture that encapsulates the outsourcing of this inaction to a machine, highlighting the avoidance of reconciliation that occurs when our apologies aren’t backed by change. The length of the sculpture, indicative of the number of printed apologies, is an attempt at creating distance between the accuser and the accused.  
 
Moving forward I hope to form more concise connections between this apologetic sculpture and our colonial state – one that’s notorious for hollow apologies and vacant promises of reconciliation.

You can see more of Emil’s work on his instagram: @emil_whot

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Lost

Mei Lein Harrison

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Artist Statement

My practice involves the investigation of themes relating to racial and gender identity, mental health, as well as the dissection of semiotics in domestic spaces. I often use my practice as a way to process the world around me as well as a medium to investigate introspectively. Because I approach the content of my practice in such a personal way, I often perform as a subject across many pictorial mediums, exploring my external and internal identity through the depiction of my own body in my work. With a background in improvisational performance, my work often contains humorous undertones and pays particular consideration to the viewer’s potential interaction with my chosen media. The work I produce frequently contains an amalgam of disciplines, primarily sculpture, photography, and printmaking techniques, to explore these topics.  

Within the process of collaborating and working so closely with a friend this semester, I also felt inclined to create work that I had complete ownership of. I come from a family where the collection and gathering of supplies was a strategy used to protect us from the disadvantages of having a low income, stacks of stuff that wavered between defence and imparement. I have confronted these material ethics and have incorporated a lot of them into my art practice, finding most of my supplies in places where their value, status or desirability has shifted towards waste/refuse. This painting, titled Lost, was created with these close personal connections in mind, both materially and conceptually. Repurposing a box taken from a domestic context, I explore the tension between the information shared and withheld between the members of my immediate family, and the distress our presence and absence in each other’s lives can exert on our wellbeing. 

Moving forward I hope to continue to use my practice to allow me to step outside of myself and view the world, and my interactions with it, through a creative and inquisitive lens.

You can see more of Mei Lein’s work on her instagram pages: @meileinh and @by_me.i

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Perfect Blue, Best Kiss, and Faceless Hero

Romario Smith

Artist Statement

We live in fast paced world where we rarely take the time to slow down and truly appreciate the incredible things that are in front of us. Animation is something that I believe isn’t given enough credit and should be valued for every second that is shown on our screens. I personally a very deep admiration and appreciation for the Japanese anime style, particularly of the 90s. The simplistic use of shape, colour blocking, and line work come together in both harmony and chaos to create visuals that hold sophisticated stories within them. Therefore, I love to give these stories, characters and themes the care of bringing them into the world of painting since every frame in any anime is screaming out to become a part of the typical fine art world that is found in institutions. Bringing the classical and contemporary digital art forms together. What does a freeze frame from an animated clip say to the viewer outside its original context? What details within the animation were sacrificed or where were corners cut to make the process easier for the animator that can now be captured eternally on canvas? How does the image read loping the even, smooth blocks of colour, now replaced by brush work? These are questions I ask myself while creating and ones that I hope viewers will ponder as well. 

Anime also has a special place in my heart because it was the main source of entertainment that I remember having access to after my family immigrated to Canada from Jamaica. I was intrigued by these characters and worlds that I could submerge myself in through the brightly coloured pixels gleaming from my television. I used these stories to explore my identity and desires without the need of vocalizing or acting upon them, making them real. I could run away from home, state my mind on religion, harm my enemies or lose my virginity, all without having to move away from the screen. Honestly, with muscular men like Inuyasha and Goku in my life from such a young age, how could I not be gay? The drawings are the wall are not only to credit my linear painting style and importance of my drawing practice that is ultimately covered by my painting practice (literally); but they are to act as reminders, guardians of my childhood and symbols of who I am today.

These works are a physical expression of me utilizing these properties to address conflicts within myself that relate to sexual power, fetishization of my race, racial inequality, and relationship with religion, particularly within the LGBTQ2IA+ community. The intervention of the subtitles act as my tools to reconstruct the context of the image that I’ve deconstructed from its original source. The largest painting, titled ‘Perfect Blue’, being the focus of the overall collection of works, plays deeply into sexual power. At first the selected text may act as merely shock value for some; however, I’ve always used humour and erotic subject matter to strip my viewers wall of expectation of fine art and hold them where they need to be to see the intention and purpose of the combined themes, text and or visuals. It is easiest to conclude that the text “I’m gonna cum on your face” is being stated to the figure and that act will be done whether she wants it or not. What I would hope is that we would entertain the thought that perhaps she is the one about to cum on someone else’s face. With the “I’m about to cum” expression she has I would think that would be obvious. What preconceived biases cause us to believe that a person lacks dominance and what happens when those who appear to lack dominance, claim it unapologetically? This work is the perfect outlet for me to address my personal development and conflicts, while also sprinkling in my own sense of humor, all within visuals that I find to be stereotypically or ironically beautiful.

You can see more of Romario’s work on his instagram accounts: @mariominajesty and @we_are_starving.

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Three Factored

Alexa Collette

Artist statement

When I hold a pencil or paintbrush, my hand mimics the posture of picking at my skin. The difference is that holding an implement is productive. It prevents me from further damaging and scarring my body. Making keeps my hands busy and provides a sense of relief. I am able to mark a surface other than my body. In this space, I am making for myself. It is the act, the performance that generates meaning. The act is grounding me in the present and in itself is a documentation of my time and bodily movements. The repetition, the compulsion to move my hands along my body, searching for something to hold onto, to pick at. The momentary relief brought by this action is addictive, but so is the substitution of my body for the wall in this work. I don’t need to be picking at my skin, I just need to be using my hands. And so I make to keep living. It is not about the resolution of any one piece, rather the commitment to material engagement and physical output that drives my practice. 

To feel is to soothe. Engaging in repetitive body-focused behaviours are a coping mechanism in my daily experience of anxiety. These behaviours are not a conscious decision, but an automatic solution to a negative internal state. Picking at my skin, biting my nails, scratching my head, rubbing my nails with my finger, biting my lip, twisting my hands, grasping my body, scribbling in a notebook, rewriting notes, fiddling with a lanyard, teasing through my hair and feeling over my body for blemishes. My work is concerned with my relationship to my body. Living with mental illness means that I am often caught up in my mind, but creating something with my hands brings me back into my body. 

My practice is largely concerned with painting, but has expanded to include more experimental drawing and most recently video. I am most interested in the visual impact of my work in relation to emotions, but have been thinking more about the interactive and textural dimensions. The work I have been producing has been centered on the now. My goal is to come back into my body in the present moment. My body is intuitive. I feel everything, hard. I feel it through my whole body. I need to manually regulate my nervous system because of my sensitivity to input from my environment. Every day I have been engaging in moments of mindfulness because my body needs it to function. I need to reset my breathing every hour. This work is for me, to honour the time and energy these practices occupy in my day to day. With a background in Psychology and more specifically cognitive neuroscience, I have become familiar with the concept of emotions as being three-factored. Emotions have a behavioural component, a physiological component and a feeling component. My work strives to make the connection between the many components involved in the emotional experience. This comes into my recent work as I have been regulating the physiological component through the employment of the mindful practices and documenting it. 

This installation is called, “Three-factored.” Drawing on the walls with crayons, brings me back to my childhood, where many of the behaviours I engage in were formed. The material contrasts the seriousness of the text, which reads “Crying in private helps no one,” prose written by CAConrad from their (Soma)tic poetry ritual titled “DOUBLE-Shelter.” I resonated with this line of text because my work is concerned with bringing emotionality to the forefront. I find power in the vulnerability of creating work that is as open as the act of crying in public, which is why the text is then adapted into “Crying in public helps.” I use found objects such as the side table and cardboard box, which holds a sculptural work made from my tissues. In the video work, I document a behaviour that I have engaged in for as long as I can remember. Best described as petting my nails, this sensation of touch is grounding and I catch myself doing it and sometimes cannot stop. I realized that I have been ashamed of my anxiety-related behaviours because I was never taught about them or had them properly acknowledged. In giving this video space to exist and at a large scale in comparison to my hands, I am letting my hands speak for themselves.

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HEALING IS A DUTY AND AN ACTION / SHAME CANNOT BE SEPARATED

Claire Wright

Artist Statement:

Claire Wright is a queer multidisciplinary artist and musician currently in her fourth year of the studio art program. With emergent themes exploring catharsis, experiential polarities, the body, nature, shame, and vulnerability, her work speaks to the deep-seated desire for human connection, personal and community care, and reconciliation with discordant experiences of the Self. Reflecting upon her positionality as a white settler in relation to the land she occupies, there is a conscious intent to begin uncovering hidden truths of her identity, motivating performative actions as an attempt to acknowledge and bridge the gap between colonial attitudes and reciprocal relationships to nature. Perceiving a lack of spiritual engagement within her own upbringing and cultural history due to a nonpresence of ancestral knowledge and tradition, and acknowledging her past experiences with self harm and pain, she seeks to mend feelings of disconnect by carving out healing spaces and experiences for herself.

Working with installation and the body as a sculptural tool, she embodies the tying together of conceptual ideas through physical action and gesture, and is interested in how site specific intersections of space and sound work together to elicit visceral reactions through emotional and physical resonances and dissonances.This process of creation involves ritualistic preparation, engagement with the self, and converses with the experience of presence. Maximalist tendencies towards colour and materials, such as through the accumulation of thrifted and  found blankets, textiles, and natural materials, speak to the desire for comfort and vibrant expression in the external world as a reflection of internal worlds; to be smothered with care both inside and out.

Following this interest in exploring her own identity as it relates to shame, the body, and vulnerability, she plans on opening a facet of her being that has yet to be tapped into within her artistic endeavors: her identity as a queer woman. It is a part of her that has yet to be celebrated in its fullness, as fear has held a firm grip on this expression for most of her life. To unify the mind, body, and spirit to reach a place of radical self acceptance is the primary goal of her practice, approaching this learning with an openness and drive to bring collective understanding and healing to those around her.

You can see more of Claire’s work on her website and on instagram: @clairev0y

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help help help

Mei Lein Harrison and Emil White

Click the “Dynamic View” button to interact with the sculpture and view it from multiple angles.

Artist Statement

Mei Lein Harrison and Emil White were inspired to collaborate having observed their propensity to aid each other in the creation of their respective individual work in the past, as well as possesing a desire to employ their different perspectives in regards to gender dynamics, a topic of sustained interest for them both. They utilize these differing perspectives –  Emil as a cis white man and myself as a coloured, mixed-race, asexual, genderqueer person – to assess past experiences with gender and dynamics of power and control they’d observed in domestic settings. This work has also functioned as a way to reflect on the shift that has occurred in the expression of these values from the each artists’ parents’ generation to their own. The creative exploration of these topics culminated, to some extent, in the installation of the work in Zavitz gallery in mid-November, an exhibition titled help help help. They used diverse aesthetic strategies to aid in the telling of a performed narrative, documenting these gestures in both their houses, as well as the street that connects these personal domestic spaces. Curating vignettes from a collection of lived experiences, they use a combination of subtle and grand, almost comical, gestures to communicate the dance around the line that resides between affection and control. The work put into the performance and the themes played upon in the video are reflected in a more tangible way in Mei Lein and Emil’s soft sculpture. The artists made a decision to only use found materials to fabricate this abstraction of the feminine form, allowing associations with these materials from previous owners, and the worn qualities, to aid in the dissection of the approach to the feminine body as an object for servitude and comfort. This work involved both the construction of parts of the body as well as the violence subjected to it in its display, particularly as all the pieces were hand-stitched onto the mattress.

You can see more of Mei Lein and Emil’s work on their instagram pages: @emil_whot, @meileinh, and @by_me.i

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Tension / Women’s work

Sarah Bryant

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Artist Statement

Sarah Bryant uses found objects and fiber yarns to explore Western gender roles, performance, and queering of gender norms. Sarah builds sculptural pieces to question gender-coding of objects and see what becomes of object associations by skewing their function and environment. Fiber arts have historically been viewed as a feminine-coded; soft, “pretty”, and lesser skilled. Femineity or prettiness is also weaponized as a weakness or deficit. Sarah uses traditional crochet techniques and wrapping to cover or decontextualize typically masculine-coded objects. Softening hard things allows Sarah to probe feelings and sensations related to experiences in the real world as a female presenting human at work, at home, and in shared public spaces. Sarah aims to create tension by twisting or reversing accepted functions of objects to play with performative aspects of gender norms in a safe manner, highlight absurdity, neutralize gendered objects, and subtly touch on some elements of violence inherent in the merging of these materials.

You can see more of Sarah’s work on her instagram: @sarah.makingstuff