Up in the Air
September 14 – October 20, 2017
Artist: Ed Pien
Curator: Josephine Mills
Coffee’s On & Exhibition Reception: Thursday, September 14, 3 – 6 pm, Main Gallery, Fine Arts Building
Part of the “You Are Here” series
uLethbridge Art Gallery is pleased to present 2 projects by internationally renowned artist Ed Pien: playing with light and shadow to explore our relationship to water, Liquid Being is an immersive installation featuring hundreds of monstrous fish; and the Helen Christou Gallery exhibition Up in the Air features drawings and images for kites produced in Pien’s workshops in Lethbridge and on the Kainai reserve.
Toronto-based artist Ed Pien conducted workshops over the past year with youth from the Kainai Reserve, students at Chinook High School, seniors from the Lethbridge Bhutanese community, and through uLethbridge Art Gallery’s “Culture Vulture” program. Pien invited participants to use empathy and contemplate the fate of fresh water fish, to draw the monstrous results of contamination and climate change, and to imagine what these creatures would need to survive. From this foundation, uLeth-bridge Art Gallery commissioned 31 individual kites to be produced from the resultant images. Participants in the workshops and the general public were invited to fly the kites at events around the city, including at the Galt Museum and as part of uLethbridge’s Homecoming celebration for the 50th anniversary. All of the images made by workshop participants are displayed on a slide show in the exhibition and a video of the kites in action is projected on the end wall.
Pien also produced his own monstrous fish by working with water as his collaborator. He soaked sheets of paper and drew with ink that then spread as it became diluted. From this template, he pressed a second piece of paper and made a single impression (a mono print). To that print, he added more water and ink, blotting off the excess, letting the sheet dry and repeating 2 or 3 times until he achieved a de-sired image. In these prints, as in much of his art practice, Pien draws on sources varying from Asian ghost stories to the works of Hieronymus Bosch and Francisco Goya to create works that are abstract and grotesque, haunting and evocative.
In addition to this exhibition, Pien has transformed the Main Gallery (located on level 6, Centre for the Arts) into an immersive installation titled Liquid Being. Pien’s projects launch uLethbridge’s “You Are Here” series: consisting of exhibitions, workshops, performances, and presentations designed to invite a diversity of people in Southern Alberta to find new ways to think about the future of their environment. The series is produced in partnership with Level 2: Lichen Lab, a symbiotic research partnership studying the connection between art galleries and enactive cognition. In the coming months, look out for other components in the series. Lisa Hirmer and DodoLab will be on campus the first week of October talking to the community about a different way to prepare for disasters in Plant Tenders (and other future currencies) — a project about tending to what is not yet here. And later in October, Lichen Lab will launch their first season of podcasts. For more information, please visit: ulag.ca or lichenlab.ca.
– Josephine Mills, Director/Curator
Ed Pien and uLethbridge Art Gallery would like to acknowledge:
Victoria Karmali, Chinook High School
Nicole Riedmueller, Chinook High School
Andrea Fox, Tatsikiisaapo’p Middle School
Electrician: Jed Mosher
Grounds Crew: Phil Dyck
Grounds Crew: Vern Leckie
Grounds Crew: Richard Feenstra
Bud Taylor, The KiteGuys, Bentley AB
Ken Conrad, Great Winds Kites, Seattle WA
Kite Flying Expert & Volunteer:
Michelle & Adam Haines
Mary Fox – OMIA’NISTITSIIKSIINAAKII
“Many Different Snake Woman”
Galt Museum & Archives