The Art of Subtraction with Steph Krawchuk

Steph Krawchuk is a painter based out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her work is largely autobiographical and documentary, painting the people and spaces that surround her. This is evident from her past work of portraiture, still life, and cityscapes. Krawchuk has an upcoming show at Art Placement May 30th-June 25th 2015. Along with her building paintings, new work focusing on lines and abstraction will be available for viewing. Reception is Saturday May 30th at 2pm in the gallery at Art Placement. I had the the opportunity to do an interview with her in May of 2015. The transcript and some of her work is below.

Artist Website

Art Placement Show Information


Amanda Leigh: What is happening with your upcoming show?

Steph Krawchuk: It’s going to be about half buildings, and half abstract paintings.

AL: Why half and half?

SK: I think that when I knew I was having a show, I was doing buildings, it’s mostly what I do, and it’s a lot of lines and shapes and colour. Then during that process I just wanted to see what I could do with forgetting about subject matter and just making those elements. Some of them are on canvas, and some of them are on paper being framed.

AL: What was the drive to strip it down more, to ‘lines and shapes and colour’?

SK: I was curious about what I could do, I had never really done that before and I’ve been painting for over 10 years. I’ve always been interested, and generally speaking when I look at art or art history what I love is a lot of abstract expressionist sort of stuff, so it seemed natural to try this.

Steph Krawchuk,

Steph Krawchuk, “Follow II”,
2014, Oil on canvas,

AL: Are there specific artists or time period that are influencing this new work?

SK: When I was looking at abstract stuff, I definitely went to Willem de Kooning, he’s like a feast of information, his whole career is pretty awesome; Brice Marden is another artist who did a lot of line work, which seems kind of easy but is not; and Stuart Davis, who has actually been called one of the first pop artists even before Warhol, he was doing these abstract shapes which are so cool and colourful. Those are three people I’ve been looking at, but also: Rothko, Pollock.

AL: With these abstracts, are you doing them freehand or basing them off of still life or the forms of buildings?

SK: It’s just the bare canvas and seeing what happens. I start by putting down lines quickly and not really thinking about it. With the buildings and the portraits it’s all about adding and subtracting until you are sort of at peace with what’s there. With these[abstracts], it’s almost another level of that process, it was very frustrating. I couldn’t have done the larger ones on canvas without doing smaller ones on paper. I’m really grateful to Art Placement, the gallery that I’m showing with, because they had a drawing show and they were totally open to looking through these sketchbooks, and I did these maybe nine years ago, I’m not even sure. The gallery took them and they framed them, and that was very encouraging for me. I mean I didn’t think these were awesome, but it was a start. I’m just very pleased to see I can do an abstract painting on canvas, because a year ago I couldn’t.

AL: What were your frustrations a year ago?

SK: It’s a different way of handling paint. It’s hard to describe. When I’m doing a building, I’ve been doing them for seven or eight years, so I have an idea of what I’m doing, where I’m going, what it might look like. The buildings also exist, they are downtown, and I know what they look like. These [points to abstract canvases] are completely made up, which maybe could be easier, but I don’t think that it actually is.

AL: Are you still trying to resolve these issues in your abstract practice, or have you become very comfortable?

SK: This is still really brand new. This show for me feels like the beginning. I think I want to start working on larger scale abstract paintings; it’s part of that process where I started doing smaller ones on paper, then moving onto bigger ones. With the differently handling of paint, it’s almost hard to tell when it’s starting to look “good” with abstract work, its tricky, it’s very bare.

Steph Krawchuk,

Steph Krawchuk, “Blues”,
2014, Oil on paper,

AL: Space plays a lot in your abstracts, compared to your building paintings that are full of the building itself, the street, the cars or trees.

SK: It takes some experience to get that space down. The original abstracts I did were very messy partly because of this, and I was kind of discouraged, but what for whatever reason I’ve talked to other artists who have said starting with paper is a more forgiving medium, and I’m not really sure why. So I started with paper and acrylic, which I think was a quicker and more forgiving process, rather than starting with oil. I then layered it with oil paint so I could have the finish that I’m used to. I feel like now I have a better grip on these paintings, but you still can’t be too confident, I’m still kind of slightly confused when I start. That [points to an abstract] took a while to do, and sometimes I still look at it and say “what the hell is that?”

AL: Depending on what type of mood you’re in?

SK: No I like it, and people that I’ve showed it to quite like it, but it’s very… different.

AL: Have you had any palette issues, with colour?

SK: Not exactly, but when you look at this [abstract painting with greys] it’s subdued in colour compared to a lot of stuff that I have done. I struggle with busyness. I’ve been wanting to refine my painting, which I think has happened in the past couple years. Sometimes my paintings are busy and colourful, but I’m also learning less is more.

Steph Krawchuk,

Steph Krawchuk, “Cambridge Court”
2015, Oil on canvas

AL: Why have you been so eager with bright colours?

SK: I’m attracted to it I guess, I think people are attracted to colours, it draws people in very quickly, but maybe people can be turned off by it too. I’ve always found colour to be a way of communicating, I don’t exactly know what, but maybe as a way for people to get engaged with my paintings. It’s very immediate, whether you like it or not it’s there, it makes you look at it.

AL: I think everyone, regardless of art training or background or anything like that, can talk about colour.

SK: Everybody has a relationship with colour. I think I kind of use that in a way. I once saw a Van Gogh painting in New York, and that’s when I feel I really learned about colour, because it was a portrait, and I really didn’t even like the painting to be honest, but the colour in the background was this lime green, and you were fixated on it. That sold me on the impact that colour can deliver. You don’t even have to like the painting.

AL: I think that speaks to space again, the painting was of the figure, but that background played such a large roll for you, larger than the “focus” the painting.

SK: I mean if you look at my portraits, it’s always a flat colour behind. It’s almost in all my paintings actually, people say that my buildings are almost portrait-like.

AL: Why are you so interested in painting Saskatoon, or cityscapes?

SK: I’m interested in documenting what’s around me. I don’t think too much about it, I don’t want to paint a picture from a photo of some other city I’m not living in. I live downtown, I walk around a lot downtown, I work downtown, and so it seems like an obvious subject matter. There is so much information in a scene; there are so many lines, there’s so much opportunity for me to paint.

AL: Are you interested in architecture?

SK: I’m interested yes. I love travelling and see different cities and buildings, and making paintings of it. What interests me the most, and maybe you can tell from these paintings, are buildings with character. Stuff like that is just waiting for me to do a painting of it. I could just take the scenes of Saskatoon for granted so I have to look a bit into… what I’m looking at. Through these paintings I feel like I’ve gotten to know so many little details that people probably don’t notice. I look around a lot, I kind of love that.

Steph Krawchuk,

Steph Krawchuk, “Parkview Facing the Street”,
2014, Oil on canvas,

AL: Do you find that people connect to you because of the city paintings?

SK: Sometimes I’m commissioned to do a painting, but there no doubt some people do like to see Saskatoon like this.

AL: In the buildings in real life, these facade colours are so neutral these small details almost disappear into each other. You’ve been able to achieve really picking and choosing your small detail to focus on, while kind of blocking everything else with colour.

SK: That’s exactly it it, I was thinking about a write up Lorenzo Dupuis, a painter I did a show with, and what he said is I don’t get overly detailed with these buildings, but like you said, what I’m interested in I highlight. I paint a door, a window, a sign, as a focus and that’s how I pare it down.

AL: Do these little details relate to your influences we talked about earlier?

SK: Before this show along with getting interested in these abstract painters which I’ve always cared about, but looking more at those three I mentioned in particular, I also briefly got interested in pop art, and that’s the point in art history I usually start to get disinterested. I realized though, that I like painting signs, and restaurants, and I just figured whatever. I sort of embraced that I maybe had some pop in me too.

AL: It’s not something that you have to dislike

SK: No no, but the pop artists were doing these almost meaningless paintings, almost with no emotion because they didn’t like the abstract painters and that their paintings were full of emotion.

AL: Are you using your paintings as a vehicle for emotion?

SK: Not really. When I’m painting it’s more about the process, about refining the painting, and the use of colour. I never really thought of colour as being a subject matter. You know, you go to school, they set up a still life, and we’re all thinking we need to reproduce this thing like it is, and you can do so much more. I think that’s why painting is so frustrating the first year, because what we think what we need to be painting is so limiting. I was taught to never use black lines, so a lot of my earlier work is really colourful… with no black lines. I am still using colour, but you can see the old work is a lot ‘louder’ with it.

AL: You’ve really taken colour and run with it, while being able to break some rules and add in black lines.

SK: Yeah, and maybe colour has been my first endeavour, and still is, but now I’m really interested in focusing on how much I enjoy and am interested in lines, and where that can go. Along with colour, lines are the process of these abstract paintings, and with lines come shapes.

Steph Krawchuk,

Steph Krawchuk, “Follow”,
2014, Oil on canvas

AL: In this new work it’s evident colour is playing less of an obvious role, when looking back at your contrast work, especially the red/green paintings.

SK: I use to love the old red/green combo, it was a good one [laughs]. The German expressionist movement, in the 30s, learning about that just left a big impression on me. And we grow up knowing what about art? And then you take art history and you see that people made naive looking paintings, people made paintings that kind of looked like kids did them, but they were experienced painters, there is so much you can do. Seeing the German expressionists was really inspiring to me; they were slightly messier, and angrier, which these [points at abstracts] are not. I’m realizing I’m kind of a clean painter, I don’t really paint out of the lines, it’s kind of contained. In university I realized that I was an expressive painter, but I’m not an emotional painter. I think its up to the viewer if they connect some sort of emotion to it, its up to the audience.

AL: I think that’s what a lot of people like. Maybe it’s not ‘the job of an artist’, but the by product of an art work is that you’re making something apparent, you’re showing something in a new way that is everyday to a lot of people.

SK: I really want my work to get people who don’t even know they like art excited about art, someone who maybe wouldn’t necessarily go to a gallery, or know anything about art history, I don’t think that you need to. I think it’s possible to connect with these paintings. I don’t think they’re overly challenging to the viewer, and they weren’t easy to just make at all, but I think for the viewer my art is maybe more accessible. Four kids own my paintings [laughs]. For anybody to get excited about my work is cool.

AL: It’s really important to be exposed to different kinds of painting, or art, at a young age. If they see them, maybe they can make them.

SK: And it’s nice to own original art. They grow up around these paintings, so they grow up with the idea that they can have original paintings too.

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Patricia Shiplett “Break On Through to the Other Side” at Snelgrove

Patricia Shiplett, or Patty, has a very nice installation-exhibition in the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery until the end of the week. This is a show that you need to spend some time in, absorbing and reflecting on what is going on. It’s place to meditate and reflect on your reality, mortality, what might lie beyond. It is a quiet journey about one’s existence. There’s a delicate balance that this exhibit walks; teetering between elements of psychedelia (through various uses of lights/lasers) while also grounding you and connecting you to memory and self reflection. There’s hints of phantom mysticism and I found myself searching for something deeper than average reality. Lights appear like spirits. Many of Patty’s projections have moments of beauty, that you want to grasp on to but they quickly fade away. Maybe it’s something to be said about the impermanence of life.
Everything someday will go away.
But were they ever there? What is the basis of our reality, is it really real.
One projector cycles through the lit words “are you really sure you really are”

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The largest sculpture in the exhibition is in the center of the room as you walk in. A few bundles of branches that are wrapped in a way that feels like a funeral rite. Then surrounding these bundles are lit tubes containing sapling plants. Accompanying the ground sculpture is a wall projection that shifts between light clusters resembling cell division and Patty’s own archival footage of domestic scenes or something resembling old biology films. That’s the thing with this whole exhibition. There is a vague familiarity with a lot of elements but you are never completely sure. Which brings you back to that phrase ..are you really sure you really are? Back to the sculpture, Bring your own meaning to it, I felt like I was witnessing the life cycle. Old plant life, with new plant life, and the projection being the non-physical; memory and consciousness.

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To the side of the entrance is a long sheet of plexiglass with thousands of spiked glass shards poking through, the whole thing is back-lit by a red LED. The lighting effect made a line with a large round shape above it. The circular shape is a good focal point but it’s nice to explore the peripheries of this piece seeing the light and shadow play as its shines through this complex surface. The shape of the red circle with the line made me think of a persons silhouette maybe a Buddha, but another person I spoke to saw a horizon with a sun.

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On another wall is bands of color on a wall. When inspecting this more you realize that each band of color is actually a distorted video feed. There’s moments during these bands videos that their colors and pattern have a beautiful harmony together, but just as you realize it, it changes. You do this a lot with her exhibit. Finding a moment and it disappears. Makes you want to watch through it again to see that moment. Patty told me that they were streams of consciousness. Which makes sense, people’s lives are sometimes in tune with each others then they keep moving. Whatever it is, I like it.

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Here we have cut portions of Emerson Poetry, plants, and a photo of a man and a skull.
A collection of thoughts, an example of life, light, and the physical body.
-I liked the reflection of the lights inside the box. Like phantoms of something existing somewhere else.

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Here’s another projection. A figure appears and disappears into the background, fuzzed up, sometimes looking like a blob more than a human. Looks like a moving abstract painting. The figure in dark blue amid a blue background with the hint of a warm inviting light behind the figure. There’s something nice about it.

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Beside that projection is a light box photo with a shifting laser pyramid. The light box photo is a person behind a screen with hands and chest close to the screen. It reminded me though of the face of a fetus in that strange development phase when fetus of humans, sharks, bats, dolphins all look the same,

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My favorite film is on the north east wall. There’s two sections of this film that I really enjoyed. One moment there are globes of light traveling across with an ambiguous structure that might be double exposed. But eventually it clarifies to a bus seat and the reflections of the city traveling by.

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At another point in the film is a beautiful wall of color that has slight variations and shifts throughout it, as it slowly moves into another color. It didn’t seem like a computer made color, because it feels like there is more substance and depth to it and knowing Patty’s tendency of collecting odd bits of interesting things she films over the last four years it was probably more.I asked Patty about it and she told me that she shot this scene into a pool of water that was under-lit.

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Patty’s has a few of these slow pulsing lights that she calls portals. They fade and shift through different colors. Once again it had me staring into light trying to find the best color combinations but was also good to imagine nothing else existing but this globe of light. If it was a portal, would you enter?

Particia Shiplett’s show is really worth seeing. There’s a lot of interesting work that she brings the viewer into exploring with her. I mentioned a few things but there is a lot more. A big factor in the success of this exhibition is mood inside the gallery. With blacked out windows you don’t know what to expect. Entering in you see lights, lasers, strange sculptures and many projections but the music sets the tone. The exhibit is paired perfectly with a soundtrack composed by her son Alex Stooshinoff (aka Living Room).

The music is integral to gallery experience, Alex’s music slows you down, calms you, and grounds you. It’s beautifully rhythmic seemingly in tune with your breath that aids the gallery guest to begin the process of introspection that Patty’s work calls for. Like Patty’s practice of collecting film, Alex pairs his melodies with samples of sounds that he’s recorded through a pilgrimage in Spain. The soundtrack brings life, memory and comfort to what could sometimes be a strange exhibit.

While exploring death, this show also explores life, meaning of existence and memory.
If you want to take a quiet journey and explore something different than your usual gallery. I suggest you take in Patty’s show while you have the chance.

Movement and Growth with Laura Hosaluk

Laura Hosaluk is an artist residing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She works mainly in but is not limited to; ceramics, painting, installation, wood, and bronze. Laura is a wonderfully bright and dynamic individual in and outside of the studio. I had the opportunity for a studio visit and to interview her in April 2015. Further biographical information about Laura and her work can be found on her website.

dolls and wood work

                                         dolls and wood work

doll limbs

                  more doll limb playfulness

Amanda Leigh: What are some ideas you’re playing with right now?

Laura Hosaluk: Something I want to utilize is the pin board. I’ve used it in past installations.

AL: What other pieces have you used the pin board with?

LH: There was a piece I sent to Toronto it was a wall cabinet, it was a floating cabinet it was made into 6 rooms, and it was lit. It was beautiful from afar because the light was shining through these little cabinets, so that would pique your curiosity, and then they were all individual rooms from my childhood. My father holds onto everything, all our drawings from when we were kids, I transferred them into the bedroom walls, and they had these little spyholes you could look through. And that was for my first show, called Purge, where I started to use the doll as a body, like a vehicle with a message. I would use poetry transferred onto fabric… you use fabric like muslin and print onto it, like little stripes. I wish I could find that doll… where would he be… oh, I burnt it! I might have. I purged it.

AL: Do you often destroy your old work?

LH: Hmmm… I could destroy more. Yeah there comes a time when I’ll just burn it.

AL: You said you were a collector and that you come from a family of collectors, so why do you burn the things you make instead of holding onto those? What does that do for you?

LH: It’s cathartic. It’s interesting because I’ve been running with the doll theme for quite some time, and I’m ready to start moving in a new direction. That’s why with these pieces here [points to current doll work] I want to have a quick show, flush it all out, and move onto something new. So I just recently burnt this old work, that was made up of more fabrics, and filled them all with dryer lint. It was a real process; every time I did the laundry, I had to collect the lint. Why I did that is because my Grandmother gave me all these old blankets, and when I laundered them they were disintegrating because they were so old, so they would throw this fat dryer lint and you could see that it layered like red/blue/grey, and that to me was exciting. In my mind I was like “I could produce so much dryer lint to fill up these dolls”, so I just kept laundering them.

AL: And then you burnt dolls with dryer lint? It’s a very flammable substance.

LH: Yeah. There was only two left, from that show, and they were just in the corner sitting, they weren’t really going anywhere… I didn’t sell them. They were from really dark periods actually, from the past, and I think that was really important that I let that go. I want to start creating art from another place that resides in me, because a lot of it comes from my imagination as a maker, that’s why I love my artistic process because its so much fun, and its ridiculous. It’s definitely self-directed and self-taught, and also having teachers that are self-taught and intuitive, you learn you just really need to trust opening up to that creative process. I want to start moving toward more playful and beautiful things.

Keystone 1 - 26 x 26 Acrylic on Panel found objects

Keystone 1 – 26 x 26 Acrylic on Panel found objects

Keystone 2 - 26 x 26 Acrylic on Panel found objects

Keystone 2 – 26 x 26 Acrylic on Panel found objects

AL: You’ve been working with the doll for a long time, and it’s a body for expression. Do you feel you need to move away from it because the doll can only hold certain themes and not expand in the direction you want to go, or is there another reason?

LH: What I’ve enjoyed most about the doll was getting back to working with my hands. For a long time I was painting and really identified as a painter. Doll opened up for me a wider vehicle of how I can portray messages through different mediums. It started with hand building and sewing fabrics, stuffing them with lint, then transferring this idea to furniture. So they were boxes originally that mounted on the wall, and at that time I was doing bronze casting. What I really got curious about was how can I transfer this idea of doll into clay? Then I started pushing clay into latex molds I made to get that relief of the mask, and then I wanted to go further, so how can I create a slip cast? Now with doll I’ve refined my technical abilities, so I want to make my own objects to cast. I want to cast objects from my imagination.

AL: Do you have any idea what these imaginations are going to entail, or is that still on the drawing board?

LH: I wanna flush this stuff[doll] out first before I get too far. I’ve gone back to wood turning. Wood turning isn’t my strength but I would like to revisit that and that’s what I’ll be doing here shortly. Wood bending is new to me. My father has been showing me how to wood bend.

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wood turning sculptures

wood turning sculptures

laura pouring wax into moulds

laura pouring wax into moulds

LH: I’m doing some work for my father. I poured some casts yesterday… I was going to pull some molds. These [wood turned objects] will then be realized in bronze. So they start with a wood sculpture, my Dads carving, and with these latex molds you pour your wax, and those will be cast in Pent, Saskatchewan. Our friend Joe has a foundry over there.

I remember always knowing I wanted to be an artist as a child, but my rational was like “oh your father’s an artist so you have to choose something else”. And just how… irrational that is.

AL: Why did you think you could have only one artist in the family?

LH: I don’t know, it came through so clear. My father always told me, “Whatever you do in life Laura, you’ve gotta love.” And so I was like, “I’m gonna be an artist,” then it was like, “oh but he’s doing that.” Maybe it’s because when you’re a child, what’s immediately around you is all you know, so you want to know more. So maybe I thought, “Do something different.” Which began this serious pursuit of what do I love. It always came back to working with my hands. I did hair dressing right out of high school for four years, which reinforced I wasn’t doing what I loved. I started tattooing, did an apprenticeship for a year, but after that I ended up working in a gallery representing other peoples art… and that’s when it was really clear I was unhappy. Sitting there, representing other peoples work when it was my work I wanted to be focusing on. I ended up back in Saskatchewan in 2007… I ended up back home, and began painting. I painted some really beautiful work, and I remember thinking “This is it, this is what I have to do.” I met a really good teacher at that time, Paul Crepeau, who was working with my father. He was working on stop animation and I became his assistant, I was moving all these little chairs for a chair show. 2007 was the year I started to take my practice more seriously. I’m excited about painting again, and drawing.

Here let me show you this drawing… I was sitting in a board meeting and making little lines… little lines little lines little lines. And here [points to large drawing board], I haven’t worked that big yet. I guess as a maker I’ve always made smaller, more intimate pieces.

large line drawing

large line drawing

AL: Why do you think you’re working big? Are you trying to push yourself out of your usual realm?

LH: I think it will be a great challenge to transfer these ideas on a larger scale. I have this one idea to build a large braid. I’ve been really interested in land art, planting grass and letting that grass grow and manipulating it then just leaving it on the land. So a 20 foot long braid, four feet or five feet wide. I think it would be beautiful to leave it in the land, and let the elements and the earth to take care of it.

AL: You said you like working with your hands, but these larger projects seem like they will produce more bodily movements. Have your smaller pieces hindered the ability to have a wider scope of movements, a sort of interaction with the piece if you will?

LH: It’s a more kinetic approach to the work, relation to the material and environment. The small pieces are almost so internal, so intimate, there’s so much going into it, so it’s complex, almost overwhelming. Whereas the braid is larger but more simple, with beautiful moving lines and a certain technique.

AL: It seems with the smaller work it has very much been a reflection of yourself, and sometimes a darker part of your past. With these bigger works, maybe part of that physical movement is part of the process, which translates a kind of beauty, and the process ties into the end result your trying to achieve.

LH: It’s also a very basic material. It’s nice to have space and lots of materials to work with, but the grass is simpler. I still have an interest in doing more bronze casting though, my own molds, making my own objects, and found objects. I can’t see myself moving away completely from found objects.

AL: What’s so appealing about working with found objects?

LH: Oh… the history I believe. Their have their own unique history which conjures up playfulness in my imagination. It creates a dialogue from me to my environment. I love engaging with the world this way. Like these beveled frames with shell art in my Grandmother made, I’ll probably hold onto them. I’ve been really curious about these lenses I got from value village, I’ve been collecting these.

Grandmothers shell art

Grandmothers shell art

found lenses

found lenses

AL: Maybe your not exactly looking for an idea, but is that what found objects provide? They might provide a sudden starting point?

LH: Yes, they provide something that piques my curiosity.

AL: Do you realize an idea right when you start collecting? Or do you feel that the collecting is important and go with it till something surfaces?

LH: Being self-directed and intuitive as a maker, I trust that my inner knowing is onto something so then the collection and the gathering comes, and from that I become more informed about the process and how it will reveal itself. Definitely part of how I work is an intuitive approach. Right away I want to make this [the lens] into an abdomen, which goes back into the dolls and the wall box… so is that maybe an intelligence of my own body, of my own self? It’s telling of me; do I need to go back into something of my own body, or my own being?

AL: Yeah, are you “just creating things” or is your unconscious trying to tell yourself something?

LH: Yeah, that’s kind of the connection to the land art. How can I be separate from this? It’s coming from me, it’s through me, and it’s an extension of me. So if I create from that place of beauty, that’s going to transfer into the work, and that will influence the world. I like what you said about the land art: its very physical. I think it’s really important we take care of ourselves, that we’re taking care of our body by moving it, feeding it well, taking care of ourselves mentally, and that’s what appealing about the larger work, it’s another way of feeling balanced and whole.

AL: And that’s the balancing, moving to larger pieces. The past pieces of yours are smaller and are full of mentality, but the larger pieces move towards the unexplored realm of physicality.

LH: And it requires a refined technique to work with the land; to make the grid, grow the grass, to secure the grass, manipulate it… and I can’t do it alone.

AL: Look out everyone, Laura needs you for grass braiding.

LH: Yeah [laughs] I’ve already started hunting.

AL: It can be very hard to do some projects alone, knowing people and having that support is an important asset.

LH: My exposure to the EMMA conference has been quite formative for me as a maker. It’s a gathering of 100 artists who come together, from a global community, who make works in a collaborative way. A lot of the times my making is very private, and isolated. So working on this larger piece of land art is good for getting involved with other makers.

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dotted rocks with backings

                      dotted rocks with backings

rocks in wax

                                      rocks in wax

LH: This is something I’ve been doing a lot of: painting rocks. I meant to make earrings but I just kept going, they look really nice mounted in wax. This began with a daily walk, and looking for the perfect round rock for an earring. I get kind of manic in some of my processes, so I collected like thousands of round rocks, and smoothed them on a lapidary wheel, and started fastening little backings onto them, and then they led to a little series of mounted rocks and framed.

AL: This is very meditative.

LH: Yes, it is, I loved that. A lot of repetition. When I first started playing with dots on the rocks, we were at a little mini collaborative stonehouse on the Old Man River in Alberta, and I said, “I could do this forever.” And my Dad’s like, “No you couldn’t! You couldn’t survive off of dotting rocks for the rest of your life!” But it was just the meditative quality of it, how fulfilling it is to have that connection to the object, and to just be content. I have my purpose here, just to dot rocks! From here I can visualize a whole beach with dot rocks shoreline, but from here I need many hands, a hundred people.

This idea of doing residencies are really appealing to me; I would like to continue to foster my practice with people who want to work cooperatively and collectively, and to do some really beautiful projects that bring joy into this world.

dotted rocks on wood, framed

dotted rocks on wood, framed

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Laura is curating pieces for a collaborative art project for Burning Man 2015. Here is the information to get involved.

Burning man Sask-Playa info

Untitled (New Visions): Maggie Groat and Barbara Hobot at AKA Gallery

The last installment of my Three Gallery Shows You Need to See in YXE is Untitled (New Visions) by Maggie Groat and Barbara Hobot, curated by Tarin Hughes.
(* if you want to see it in person you need to act fast, it’s last day is Feb 28th!)

I really like this show but it’s kind of hard to talk about. A mystique. Groat’s and Hobot’s work weave together throughout the gallery in a quiet dialogue with each other. While observing this show I get the feeling of a quiet mysticism. The mood in the gallery feels stark, peaceful and profound. The silence is heavy. The gallery is made up of a collection of objects and artworks that all contain feeling / memory or imagination / association. Quite an interesting thing to let your mind loosen a bit and let these objects (in some cases artifacts) speak to you as they are speaking to each other. Maggie Groat functions like an artist shaman as she collects and organizes objects and collages that carry spiritual weight and memory while pulling to the references to natural and supernatural world. Barbara Hobot creates beautiful objects that appear like found oddities from the natural world. Lots of her work looks likes tree bark, but peculiarly curved, plastic and hand painted. By mixing Groat’s found objects and Hobot’s made objects the exhibition as a whole shifts between real and imaginary as the viewer grasps faint traces of distant memories and associations.

Curator Tarin Hughes explains that the show was inspired by Elaine Scarry’s Imaginary Flowers: Perceptual Mimesis (Particularly Delphinium) where she states that the presence of a flower triggers dreams, ghosts of recognition, and memories. Tarin delivered with this show as the presence of the objects carry meaning and associations in reality, memory and your imagination. Engaging with this show is almost like chasing the curious feeling of deja vu.

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There’s a closing talk by curator Tarin Hughes Saturday at 2pm. Try and check this show out if you have the chance!

“Self Same” Maia Stark’s MFA show

Maia Stark has had her MFA show “Self Same” up at the Snelgrove Gallery AND TODAY IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO CHECK IT OUT IN PERSON!!
but I guess if you can’t see it live you can at least read about it online.

ok?

I’ve had a bit of an obsession with pink lately (or the last year!) so I was excited when I walked into the gallery to see this.

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A huge pink title wall!!
What’s with pink? It’s a crazy color. It’s more than being girlie, pink is extreme on the eye. It’s really GROSS and that’s why I like it!
So from this pink wall, I was intrigued “is there something gross in this exhibit??” (more of this later on)

Maia’s exhibit is dominated by some large oil paintings with some smaller mixed media and drawings.

You’ll probably find this out, but I’ll just say it: Maia is a twin. She has a twin sister that I often confuse with her, Cassandra.

How do you feel about twins? Some people are a bit freaked out by them, some might think they are weird or perhaps even tricksters. As a non-twins, they are a bit of a mystery. I’ve read psychology studies that have spoken about mental connections between twins. They’ve been known to share physical symptoms as well as each others depression and pain. Society through the ages have shared my fascination with twins. There’s myths and stories regarding twins in many cultures.

Maia is looking at her personal story of being a twin with some mythology mixed in.

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Light boxes are cool. Maia has a series of three layered drawings that are quite beautiful. I love looking through the layers and appreciating the nuances.

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While most of her work includes two people. Maia has some photographic work that duplicates herself and in another combines her and her sister through collage. Her double exposure photo is really cool, with two heads mind merging. Her collage has Maia creating hybrids of herself and her sister by collaging pieces of the their faces together.

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Ok, so back to me wondering if there was anything gross in the exhibition. There is some cryptic gross elements to some of Maia’s painting. There seems to be a reoccurring skin condition in most of them. I’m intrigued and would like to know why!

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Why are we fascinated with twins? I think non-twins are really missing out. With the risk of sounding cheezy they have a “soul friend” that have a deeper understanding of each other than anyone else. A twin without a twin feels so alone… is that the way I feel all the time?

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Make sure to come visit the Snelgrove tonight for Maia’s reception! 7-9 with drinks and snacks.
We can talk about twins and stuff!

Pamela Ollenberger’s “Many Feathers Flock Together: A Celebration of T-Bird”

This week at the Snelgrove is Pam Ollenberger’s MFA show “Many Feathers Flock Together”

Her work is a reflection and celebration of fond memories when Pam worked as a camp counselor at Camp Thunderbird, a camp for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Pam’s show looks awesome in the gallery. Her paintings are massive, colorful explorations of memory, where Pam uses a lot of different painting materials and techniques. With the lights being dim and calm the bright crayola colors seem to glow and jump out of her paintings. Each painting also has a sophisticated black frame. I don’t know if it was just me, but I really noticed the gallery floor during Pam’s exhibition. It could have been freshly waxed and buffed, but the bright rich colors of Pam’s paintings spilled out and reflected onto and activated the floor of the gallery.

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Pam’s paintings gave me a load of feelings of childhood nostalgia. I went back to my own memories of summer camps as a kid. Allow me to reflect, summer camps are something sincerely special. The week (or two week) span of a summer camps feels as if it’s something SO EPIC. I remember coming out of summer camp and feeling like it was a month or two because the experiences were so rich and concentrated. Friendships were made, crushes formed, lessons learned, and camp counselors were always heroes. OK reflection over, sorry If you didn’t do summer camps as a kid.

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My favorite paintings of Pam’s were here photo-transfer / painting collages.
The source imagery for these if pretty neat. Pam gave out disposable cameras to campers to document their day as they want you to see it. Her massive paintings look at little like a Rauschenberg without the pop culture imagery. There’s a lot going on in them so you can spend some time exploring the imagery. Pam also has painted over areas both additively and reductively.

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Many of Pam’s paintings have recognizable elements with hints of an inner story. I’m sure that they have loads of meaning once dissected, or with Pam’s help.

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Come down to the Snelgrove to see Pam’s massive paintings for yourself!
ORRR come for a drink and snacks at the reception Friday evening! Cya at the Snelgrove

Jessica Sukut, Kaja Coleman and Edna Oleksyn at the Snelgrove

It’s the end of the term 2 on campus and the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery is seeing the last of the BFA shows of the year. This week we have Jessica Sukut, Kaja Coleman, and Edna Oleksyn showing their BFA exhibitions.

Jessica Sukut’s “Reconstruction”

Jessica’s theme of her BFA show dwells on home and memory. Home is a great idea woth thinking about. Your home is your dwelling that keeps you safe, warm and comforted. You shape your home with colors, decorations and furnishings giving it a personality and feel that might create an emotional response. You spend so much time in your various homes that they might seem organic and alive, like an extension of the people that live there. Our homes are part of who we are.

Jessica looks at her memories of her home creating paintings that look like half built mental landscapes. I remember my previous homes, yet some details are a bit hazy and I’m sure if I spoke to one of my brothers we would have different recollections. You can see this in Jessica’s work. Her paintings are surreal toeing the line between dream and reality. Her paintings look like they’re from the head of an undecided architect: to do this she uses painters tape, mixes hard lines and sketched lines, strange vivid colors on top of solemn darks and greys, and -my favorite part- some unnatural physics. Jessica has some really cool work. There are some good layers that make them enjoyable to explore. She masks and weaves her over layers and under layers beautifully so that you question which is which. Which brings me back to the content. Is her work with painting over layers and leaving under layers go back to her treatment of memory? Do we have actual real memory (underlayer) that exists in some places but the rest of the details we paint with our own invented memories (filling the gaps with an over layer?) Hmmm. Good stuff

Some elements reminded me of buildings in a virtual world, like 2nd life. Things appear to look normal but other elements are skewed, unnatural hyper colored, and a bit strange; reminding you that it’s an imagined landscape

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^aren’t they great?.

Kaja Coleman’s “A Matter of Material”

Kaja has a series of large scale mixed media drawings of X-rays. She became fascinated with X-rays after her son was diagnosed with a condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta that effects bone strength and elasticity of tissues. X-rays are fascinating: they show what we don’t see. They also create images that tricks the eye, the hardest densest materials -bones- appear light and to be floating. Just as you might wonder how an X-ray creates an image, you might wonder how Kaja does. She’s got huge drawing that she uses numerous materials. The paintings are clean but have a life history evident in the mark making, texture and materials that she uses. There’s cheese cloth in some of them that instantly reminds me of gauze, casts, and surgical procedures. She uses wax in some of her drawings, reminding me of sculpting and bones. Her materiality speaks to you.

Then there’s interpreting these drawings. It takes a skilled physician or specialist to properly read an X-ray. How does a gallery visitor read these drawings of X rays? First do they see them as X rays: discovering the unseen bones and making an assumption about the life/health of the person. Or do they see them as drawings: exploring the materials, expressive marks, maybe footprint -a history of the artist.

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Edna Oleksyn’s “Transition”

From her paintings you can tell that Edna loves her family and nature. There’s the things you see right away. She’s surrounded by family love, there’s the painting Family Tree that has three generations together around a tree, and other familial portraits. Edna also has some love for the outdoors as she paints forests in all seasons.

But I think the trees in her paintings are her family and are a metaphor for the human life cycle. There’s a painting of horticulturists attending to and nurturing saplings in a tree nursery. There’s the beauty of trees in all seasons despite outward appearance of snow, and fall. There’s a tree roots anchored and clinging to a shore line despite threats of erosion. Then you think about family and you see her best paintings of new growth amidst old growth forest. You have some hope that after your elders are gone, they will live on through their grandchildren. There’s a broken tree, with new trees growing around it and a beautiful sun glowing in the distance. Yes, life might change, but things move on. These paintings are hopeful and are painted with love.

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the reception is Friday night, come celebrate the end of term with a drink and some art!!