March 11 – April 15, 2011
Out of the Ordinary: Annual Curated Student Exhibition
Guest Curator: Emily Falvey
The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery provides an exceptional opportunity for the professional development of Art Studio majors as they near completion of their degree. The Annual Curated Student Exhibition has recently been revised to give students realistic experience with the process of applying for exhibitions and receiving feedback from an established curator. The exhibition is only open to senior art majors in order to focus attention on those with the goal of becoming professional artists. In applying for this exhibition, the students follow the same process and standards for documenting, describing and proposing their art work as they will when applying to public art galleries and artist run-centres or for grants. Staff from the Art Gallery provide advice on preparing the proposals and share insights into what curators look for when deciding to book a studio visit and choose art work for an exhibition.
An established curator from outside of Lethbridge is invited to create the exhibition. The curator views the proposals and selects a short-list of students for follow-up meetings during a visit to Lethbridge. From these studio visits, the curator makes the final selection and works with the Art Gallery staff to lay-out and install the exhibition.
The Annual Curated Student Exhibition provides a showcase of excellent work by Art Studio majors in that year and gives the students a valuable achievement to list on their résumés. As well, the students who are not selected receive feedback on their proposals and can learn how to improve as they prepare to begin their careers.
Visit the Faculty of Fine Arts.
Artists (click image to enlarge)
Chip Painting, acrylic on chipboard, 2010
Chip Painting – Details, acrylic on board, 2010
Indian Act; Revised, handmade paper from the Indian act, hair, 2011
Indian Act: An Indian Perspective, Digital photograph, 2010
preFIXation, cedar wood, plastic, paper stickers, ink, typewriter ribbon, 2010
Remain Calm…, vinyl lettering, 2010
The Hobbyist Collection, mixed media video, 2011
Showcase, cabinet, paper, 2011
Tinsel Tick, wire mattress, tinsel, pillows, 2010
…eaten @ 1:55, video, 2011
not uniform suit, nylon pantyhose, polyester fibre, thread, 2011
Visual art that explores the aesthetic and political potential of the everyday has a long and rich history. Although art historians usually associate this kind of work with modern and avant-garde artistic practice, it can in fact be traced to 16th- and 17th-century Renaissance still lifes, which used symbols of ephemerality—such as cut flowers, rotting fruit, small insects, and skulls—to both celebrate and caution against over-consumption. At the time, these detailed trompe-l’œil paintings were considered the lowest fine-art genre, and so artists were at greater liberty to experiment with them. In many ways, painters such as Cornelius Gijsbrechts (Antwerp, ca.1630-1675) and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (France, 1699-1779) laid the groundwork for pivotal 20th-century artists like Meret Oppenhiem, Marcel Duchamp, and Any Warhol, whose work turned mundane, found objects and images into vectors of outrage, wonder, and dread.
Out of the Ordinary revisits the practice of extracting unusual and unexpected forms and meanings from everyday materials and subjects. By creating work that incorporates or builds upon found objects, patterns, and text, the artists in this exhibition explore a wide range of issues, including states of contradiction, processes of legitimation, and acts of both violence and healing. Corinne Thiessen Hepher’s work, for example, uses costumes and body extensions to explore themes of metamorphosis and hybridity. Often constructed from found materials such as pantyhose, her work plays on the distinction between intimacy and extroversion, the beautiful and the grotesque. Less dramatic, although no less paradoxical, Katie Bruce’s prints focus on discrete cracks and other patterns that develop naturally in the built environment. Approaching these formations like readymade engravings, she uses them to emboss paper, then works back into the resulting image with embroidery. Also working with textiles, Jena Ursel explores the relationship between repetitive, ritualistic processes and therapy. Inspired by a personal struggle with depression, her work represents both a form of self-examination and a means of escape. In a similar vein, Kalen Hussey’s photographs consider the tension between strength and vulnerability by zeroing in on accidental and self-inflicted scars.
Among the more playful works in the show, Bonnie Patton’s preFIXation (2010) treats prefixes and suffixes as alchemical devices capable of transforming any word. A set of language games made from altered Rubik’s Cubes, handmade Scrabble pieces, and dice, the surreal randomness of this work is echoed by a text fragment enlarged to fill an entire wall. Combing craft techniques with found vintage and kitsch objects, Arianna Richardson’s multimedia practice critiques methods of assigning value based on a distinction between fine-art collectors and hobbyists. Brenna Crabtree’s ongoing series of bread tags explores the hidden formal possibilities of extremely banal subject matter, while Chad Patterson’s tactile sculpture, Salt Lick (2010), offers a playful take on the Duchampian readymade. Also referencing modernist frameworks, Donna Bilyk’s Chip Painting (2010) undermines abstraction as a form of individual expression by using programmatic methods and a limited palate of commercial paint.
Perhaps the most political work in the show, Indian Act; Revised (2011), by Allison Crop Eared Wolf (Blackfoot, Blood nation), deconstructs the offensive Act of Parliament used by the federal government to define who is an “Indian.” Motivated by a desire to both highlight and obliterate this disturbing document, she painstakingly shredded a copy of the Act by hand, turning the remains into sheets of hand-made paper. Embedded in each sheet is a lock of the artist’s hair, a reference to the Blackfoot custom of burying hair after it has been cut.
Emily Falvey, Guest Curator
Originally from Nova Scotia, Emily Falvey is now a Montreal-based independent curator and art critic. In 2009 the Canada Council for the Arts awarded her the Joan Yvonne Lowndes Award for critical and curatorial writing, and in 2006 she received the Curatorial Writing Award (Contemporary Essay) from the Ontario Association of Art Galleries. She is currently working on the manuscript for her first book of art criticism, titled Torn Halves and Half-Truths: Strategies of Paradox in Recent Canadian Art. Her curatorial work includes Exploded View (2010), Nite Ride (co-curated with Ryan Stec, 2009), Blue like an Orange (2009), and Buildup (2008). She was Curator of Contemporary Art at the Ottawa Art Gallery from 2004 to 2008.