Internationally renowned artist Ed Pien joins the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery to kick off the You Are Here series of exhibitions, workshops, performances and presentations running from September 2017 to March 2018. Opening September 14 in the main gallery is Pien’s exhibition Liquid Being and Up in the Air in the Helen Christou Gallery, both exhibitions curated by gallery director Dr. Josephine Mills.
The You Are Here series invites southern Albertans to find new ways to think about the future of their environment. Pien began his research and community connections a year ago, with three visits to Lethbridge to meet with Blackfoot environment experts and scientists researching water and climate change and to work with youth from Lethbridge and Kainai First Nation.
“Ed Pien is one of Canada’s top artists,” shares Mills. “His work has been created and exhibited all over the world from Japan, to Cuba, Brazil and more. We are very lucky to have him here. He produces art to engage with the audience, not just in his installations but also in the creation. During his time in Lethbridge he has spent dozens of hours working with the public, especially with children.”
Pien’s research and collaborations led to the creation of Liquid Being, an installation that includes drawings of monstrous fish etched onto hundreds of Mylar sheets suspended in the main gallery. With light projected through them, the drawings become visible in the shadows. The installation also includes a channel of water brought in from the Kainai reserve which runs through a Mylar structure. The water projects a shadow through the structure and evaporates over time. Leading environmental lawyer and Indigenous ally, Merll-Ann S. Phare (Winnipeg) will contribute text. Liquid Being will be in the main gallery Sept. 14 through Oct. 26.
The Helen Christou Gallery, uLethbridge Art Gallery’s satellite space in the hallway between the library and University Centre for the Arts, will feature more of Pien’s work in Up in the Air from Sept. 20 through Oct. 20. After conducting workshops with youth from Lethbridge and Kainai First Nation, with senior new Canadians and through ULAG’s Culture Vulture Saturday program, over 30 kites with images inspired by the fate of fresh water fish and the monstrous results of climate change were created. Images of the work by the young participants, a video documenting the performances of kite flying, and drawings by Pien will be on display.
“The drawings in the Helen Christou Gallery were made with ink and water,” says Mills. “Water is his collaborator. He studied the eleven species of fresh water fish found in southern Alberta and created loose and abstracted drawings of ghostly images of monstrous fish. He also let ink evaporate on different materials, creating abstract topographical maps of lakes and rivers.”
Both exhibitions open with a reception, Thursday, September 14, 3 to 6 p.m. in the main gallery.