Curator: Josephine Mills
Opening reception: November 5, 2010 4-6PM
The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery has changed considerably in recent years. Some of these changes are visible, such as the floor-to-ceiling renovation of the main gallery or the new look to our website and posters, while much of the transformation happens behind the scenes, such as updating our policies and procedures or shifting our reporting structure within the university. From my job as both Director and Curator of the Art Gallery, I balance working on the larger vision for the goals of the gallery with planning our exhibitions and programs. It is not important that visitors to the gallery see the connection between the events and the vision, but what does matter is that the exhibitions and other activities bring that vision to life and then inform the next phase of creating the goals and plans.
On first seeing Alison MacTaggart’s work, I recognized the beautiful fit between her interests, use of materials, and response to how visitors experience exhibition space and my own goals for the U of L Art Gallery. MacTaggart focuses on the relationships involved with communication – the artist communicating with the viewer, the personal relationship one has to objects meant to facilitate communication, and the possibilities as well as frustrations with language. Her works invite touch, raise questions, and encourage discussion. MacTaggart’s combination of addressing the ideas involved with communication while also encouraging dialogue resonates with the potential of the Art Gallery to be a forum for the exchange of ideas, a place of contemplation, and a site that supports interdisciplinary discussion.
Promising Objects is an exhibition that explores the dialogic relationship the viewer has to an artwork and the parallels between language and art. The works for the exhibition also correspond with my interest in inventors and artists and their respective quests to devise solutions to problems and ideas.
To guide the early stages of the work, I decided on three parameters derived directly from The Guide to Patents from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office . Each artwork or solution to my proposal to explore language and the dialogic must demonstrate novelty, utility and ingenuity. To demonstrate novelty, each artwork must be “new” in some way. It could be an improvement on a previous artwork or the first such object in the world. With regards to utility each artwork must “work” or have a “useful” function. For example, the artwork could be an apparatus or it could be a process or a method that invites participation. Who says art can’t be useful? To demonstrate ingenuity each artwork must be a development that would not have been obvious beforehand and it would elicit a “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that” reaction from other experts or artists in the field—a challenge indeed, to say the least.
The resulting works are embodied solutions to my proposed idea. They make “vibratory” references to harmony and discordance, pitch, tone, amplification, elastic potential energy, and other forces and effects. They promise an encounter between the viewer(s) and the artwork, the viewer and his or herself, and the viewer and the artist by way of the artwork.
Alison MacTaggart is a Vancouver-based artist whose conceptually inspired installation work bridges the disciplines of sculpture, drawing and writing. She completed her MFA in 2006 and has received awards and grants from the BC Arts Council, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts. She currently teaches at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, BC.