CVAG GATHER : PLACE / December 13, 2019 – January 4, 2020
beside / new work from NIC Fine Arts course Sculpture and Intergrated Art Practices /
artists: Mona Baker / Janina Brugamn / bobbi denton / Tina Filippino / James Kormansek /
Bran Mackie / Rennee Poisson / Spencer Sheehan-Kalina / Kelly Wilson
North Island College Fine Art students studying Sculpture and Integrated Practices have collated their work in an incubator project with the support of the Comox Valley Art Gallery. This is a visual representation, of a diverse group of artists, showcasing the primary creative concerns that they have worked throughout this past academic semester.
Working side by side, with clay, plaster, metal, video, text and wax we wove our processes together. We inspired and energized each other. Our individual understandings expanded through discussion, storytelling, critiques and sharing.
– collective statement
CVAG COMMUNITY GALLERY / December 13, 2019 – January 4, 2020
untitled / new work in sculpture + mixed media + digital imaging / NIC Fine Arts Program students
artists: Gabe Moore / Brandon St-Laurent / Cassidy Gehmlich
GATHER : PLACE
KELLY WILSON / Holding Dust and Living Memory
(bamboo, willow, bicycle, porcelain clay body multiples). 2019
How do we as humans cope with death? The visceral reaction to death is often the opposite of what I am trying to facilitate with my choice of materials. The pod and cans are both made of natural materials that readily break down into components that do not contaminate the earth. Taken as a whole, this piece is about death but not just as a physical process. The human body, like bamboo and clay, fast returns to the earth. However, our memories of those who have died do not disappear so readily. What are we to do with these memories? How do we hold these memories when those we share them with are gone forever?
This piece is how I choose to honour those who have died with ceremony: quietly, contemplatively and in an unobtrusive way. The bicycle is an essential part of the process; with it, I use my still present body to move the bodies of those who have died to their resting place. The body is contained within the bamboo burial, or cremation, pod. Our bodies and the cans that carry cremation ashes will disappear. My memories of the people will live and I am able to physically demonstrate, by moving the bodies myself, how moved by their existence I am. All these containers, our bodies, the burial pod and the cans, will disappear. The cans are made of porcelain clay body with clear glaze. The molds for the cans were intentionally made using a variety of cans found in the supermarket. The form of the cans is a direct reference to the plethora of industrial mass production items we are surrounded by that simultaneously make life so easy for us while also alienating us from one another and the earth. As cremation canisters, I chose to make them with porcelain. In contrast to regular tin cans, each porcelain canister is unique in its form. Regardless of what consumer culture assumes, each individual is unique. Death is the one universal experience for all forms of life.
KELLY WILSON / In my early years, I studied fine art at the University of Guelph. Following that, I moved to B.C. and for many years focused on building a house and establishing a farm. Once I had the time to return to art, I became preoccupied with how to bring practical concerns of life, especially those confronted by farmers who work so hard to keep animals and plants alive in an environment that is fast becoming inhospitable to life, to the realm of art. This interest in farming and art led me to pursue an apprenticeship in European basketry under a British basket weaver. I also studied with traditional willow basket makers from France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. In addition to weaving, I learned to cultivate willow varieties for basket making. Weaving techniques and materials now heavily inform my work. Even when not using willow, I still always use materials that are naturally sourced and easily break down before returning to the earth.
JANINA BRUGMAN / Rain (rice paper, glue, beeswax, string) / untitled (porcelain clay slip multiples and epoxy). 2019
As someone who doesn’t yet feel as though they’ve found home, I am interested in how people end up where they are. How it is either a choice made by themselves, their parents, or the circumstances surrounding their place of birth. I do not want to make art that accurately points at one answer. I want people to be able to build their own narrative to my explorations of material and form.
However, my focus in creating rain people, was to replicate 3D forms of the 2D raindrop icon we all know. The cycle of rain has always fascinated me. The way in which it is carried to its destination in a cloud, it then falls in thousands of individual drops, landing sporadically. Then those drops will either join into communal bodies of water or be incorporated into the land, or they are evaporated, forming a new vessel to carry new drops to a new place.
In a sense, people do this as well. Many people, including my own parents, immigrate, landing in a new place and becoming a part of the community. Some families have been in the same cities for generations, and some people leave to find their own place to fall. The variation in the way every human makes different decisions about where they will live and how has been fascinating to me.
JANINA BRUGMAN /Currently, I am in my final year of the North Island College Fine Arts Diploma Program. Overall, I enjoy exploring what I can create with different materials and pushing the limits of what I can build with the outcome being structurally sound. I am far more interested in the hands-on aspect and the making, than the overall concept. I have never been an overly deep thinker when it came to art, nor have I ever made heavily conceptual work. This course has challenged that, and although I don’t think I am quite there yet, I feel I’ve chipped the tip of the iceberg.
Being in Canada, we live in a country of many different ethnicities. A mosaic. I have always been interested in the backgrounds of people and how they got to where they are or where they’re planning on going. My parents are both immigrants, one from Europe and the other from South America. This has provided a unique upbringing as well as opportunity for travel. I have had exposure to different cultures from a young age. Family scattered throughout the world, although it means we miss out on having a big close-knit family, has quite often helped to provide those travel opportunities, and it is within this scatteredness that I take interest in the notion of where and how people decide to settle. How people decide to leave their place of origin, or how they don’t, and they may continue to live in a place for generations. The whole notion of finding a place that truly feels like “home” to someone weather its near or far is something that interests me as an artist and a human being.
MONA BAKER / The Forgotten
Little changes. Refugees desperately
seek safe haven, and marginalized
people feel the prejudice and grapple
Only a headline in the news, soon
forgotten, reminds us of the ongoing
MONA BAKER / Lithuania, my country of origin, was
decimated in two world wars. The people
scattered to the four corners of the Earth.
Canada generously opened it’s door to many
refugees, including my family.
Thankfully, Canada continues to do so.
bobbi denton / The Orb Series, installation
(porcelain multiples, hd video loop (10 min), three digital colour prints on archival Museum Etching 320 gsm paper / prints presented in CVAG hub). 2019
As with much of my work, The Orb Series birthed from a perchance viewing in nature: a small group of plants with tiny round mushroom-like heads, clinging together, emerging from within green strands of spring grasses.
Pale, fragile and vulnerable they shivered in the icy winds of spring.
This image birthed multiples of porcelain orb-like forms.
The memories of those shivering little round heads, tossing back and forth, suggested nature and water as a likely medium for an explorative interaction with the porcelain orbs.
As they entered the water, the porcelain orbs, sucked deep, filling up with golden liquid that had journeyed through peat and seaweed. Air escaped and bubbles formed as they bumped and jostled in this natural moving stream, a convergence of freshwater and seawater.
The seagulls shrieked in hope of food or just for fun. The porcelain skins of the orbs tinkled with each bounce and nudge. The sun came out and magic happened.
As the sunlight moved through the air and into the water, with it’s lower optical density, its angles changed, and it’s velocity decreased. This refractory effect created optical illusions, transformations and moving abstractions.
Magic happened, and nature put on a show of surface, form, water, movement, light and sound.
bobbi denton / Growing up on a farm in N. Ireland, I acquired a love for, and a great connection to the land and all sentient beings.
I was the child who carried the ladybug back to her home.
Now living in the beautiful Comox Valley I still carry that sense of wonder and respect for the ancient wisdoms in our lands and all living forms. I am drawn into the mystery, bearing witness and sharing through my art process. I work in multiple mediums; photography, paint, ceramics, video and sound, choosing to work with those that best convey the concept, and open a conversation. I work from a place of “feeling into”. Most of my work starts in the pit of my stomach, respecting that intuitive sense. Giving chance and the lack of control the upper hand, my objective is always to be surprised and arrive at a place I did not know.
SPENCER SHEEHAN-KALINA / Bear
(printed matter, written word) /Bear Masks (paper, duct tape). 2019
I seek to explore the human experience and humanity’s place in nature through a diverse, multidisciplinary approach to making artwork. My approach to making art is experiential and process based, with acts of repetition and revision collating to create a summation of work. While my work work is drawn from a deep wellspring of personal experience, I seek to transcend the limitations of a singular personal experience by recontextualizing my own narrative in a way that relates to what is universal, in an approachable creative-vocabulary of expression.
SPENCER SHEEHAN-KALINA / I am an author and multidisciplinary artist. My work explores the human experience and our relationship to the natural world. My most recent art work and writing can be found in the anthology In Our Own Aboriginal Voice 2. I was raised and born in Ottawa, live in Courtenay with my two cats, and am currently a Fine Arts Diploma student at North Island College. I proudly identify as being metis and a member of the LGBTQAI2+.
RENÉE POISSON / Brainbox (digital colour prints on archival paper)/ Seesaw (steel multiples – 13 welded elements, each balanced on a fulcrum. 2019
This piece is nothing without movement.
This installation is still in development.
Brainboxes / These constructed images are my vision of what might be when the clay becomes stoneware in the kiln.
Responding to the idea for private space, safely enclosed and completely impenetrable, I built these clay forms as three dimensional diagrams of a brain. Impressions of camera circuits and motherboards are metaphors for nerve maps of our brains. It is the closed off aspect of these forms that will allow them to float.
I see them lost or found at sea like bottles with messages tossed to drift and land somewhere at some time impossible to predict. They are fragile enclosures. Air floats stone(ware). Hieroglyphics. Markings of a kind of language.
Heads, minds, homes. Floating rooms. Interior airtight buoyant. Rising or sinking alone. More than one but never touching.
fall down, get up
one day up
next day down
lift of lightness
ebb low, high tide
touch down heavy
up bright empty
surge full weight
to heave up
(just enough) breath
RENÉE POISSON / As a multi-faceted artist my practice has been rooted in independent and collaborative projects involving sculpture, performance, drawing, video, installations, soundscapes. Over the past five decades until recently my education has been intensely self-directed. Meeting the Ground (2016), installed at the Comox Valley Art Gallery, used falling as a metaphor for death and included sculpture, video and performances. Artist residencies in Quebec and Switzerland and grants awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts and the BC Arts Council have deepened my art practice. Currently investigating actions of rising, I have extended my process with welding steel and hand-building clay structures. I live and work in the forest in Merville, BC.
JAMES KORMANSEK / 2/51
(ceramic multiples). 2019
My “Bottle” project consists of two types of slip cast bottles and two large hand-built versions, all based on vials that carry testosterone. For many people, vials of this sort can be seen as jarring or impersonal due to their link to the medical field and association with injections/immunizations, but for me they are a familiar and welcome part of my day to day life. My aim with this project is to treat a sterile, medical object with tenderness, transforming it into something organic and through that normalize a part of my experience as a transgender person to an audience of people with differing experiences.
JAMES KORMANSEK / I am a sculptor and painter interested in objects and scenes from everyday life. I take domestic life as the greatest inspiration and through my work attempts to celebrate and honour the common and shared experiences of people.
BRAN MACKIE / The Speculum Project
(ceramic multiples). 2019
Through using the speculum as a metaphor, I aim to create a dialogue with the physical and social tools that narrow our range of vision, and which, in the moment of looking, obscure our ability to see the whole. By looking at these speculums, and the ways in which they have been transformed, we look at the act of looking itself, and by extension, who is being looked at, and why.
The speculum is a charged object. Though early examples can be found from ancient Rome, when it was redeveloped in the 1800’s it was tested on slaves, and global reproductive rights are currently being held in the balance of a growing conservatism. The reproductive rights of certain populations has been suppressed, such as people with disabilities, and up until a only a few years ago transgender people in Canada were required to have ‘lower’ surgery through the process of medically and legally transitioning. For people who are transmasculine, this meant being legally required to remove the ovaries or the uterus.
In realizing this project I acknowledge and make space for people’s various experiences with this object. Materially, I have transformed the speculum into an object that is recognizable but non-functional- it can only be seen, and it can no longer be used to look. The speculums are slip-cast in clay, using a two part mold that is then modified. They are then raku fired with a shiny, iridescent glaze. This final process visually removes them so far from their origins that to many people they are unrecognizable.
BRAN MACKIE / is an artist living and working on the traditional territories of the K’omox First Nation. Mackie uses a variety of media to uncover connections between empathy, self-awareness, landscapes and the physical body.
Much of my process of making is carefully planned and considered- I research the history of my materials and consider the messages they are sending without me, especially in my sculptural practice. The material’s traditional uses, especially in who they are used by is as much a consideration as is practicality and aesthetics. The other side of my process is very exploratory- though I often have a concept and a place I want to go with an idea, sometimes I get there and it doesn’t work. In allowing myself to experiment and follow my intuition, my work ultimately arrives in its final form has undergone several stages of transformation. Documenting these processes is essential to me, in the form of drawings, notes and photos, even when this documentation doesn’t reach the final presentation.
JULIAN RENDALL – owner/operator of Make It Zone / compiled 3D printed sculpture and laser cut encloser / 2019
Julian facilitated a workshop on Meshmixes software to create 3D printed objects with NIC Fine Arts class – Sculpture and Integrated Art Practice. Artwork is printed in two halves using PolyAchemy Midnight Blue PLA. Enclosure is from a CAD model converted to planes and laser cut from renewable Baltic Birch plywood.
GABE MOORE / Floating (Wood, Aluminum, Monofilament). 2019 / Floating on (Mixed Media). 2019 / Floating (Video & Sound). 2019
This installation is shown in two forms, one with projection and one with just the sculpture. The work started as an exploration into metal, but the way the metal discs emerged, made me think of living bodies. The curves of the discs mirror the silhouette of the salmon body. I realized my work represents the influx nature of salmon. During my investigations, I recorded footage of salmon spawning at the local hatchery. I observed how they interwove. Bodies writhing in tandem, as they struggled for space. From above, fish congealed into a singular mass. From a viewing portal below, they glided past one another, dancing across the tank. Their serene movement inspired a sense of mesmerising calm. I was captivated. I wanted to translate this same experience using video. Thus, Floating was born.
The sculpture emphasises a meditative quality and the crack of its discs, when they strike one another, mimic salmon breaking the waters surface. Salmon are not perfect, flawless creatures. As they spawn, they degrade, and their bodies break down. Yet, they are in continuous movement. Striking figures that twist and turn with the currents. Like the sculpture, they float in space. The cyclical mobile represents the struggling cycle of the spawning salmon, while the video reveals the effervescent nature of their being.
GABE MOORE / I am a printmaker and installation-based artist. My art practice embraces using experimental materials, and not limiting themselves to one specific medium. Much of my art is inspired from an innate curiosity of how things are and the environments they exist in.
BRANDON ST-LAURENT / They Don’t Know I Watch Shark Tank
(Blender 2.8 and Photoshop generated digital colour prints, acrylic on canvas). 2019
My work is by large interpretative, focusing on the predictability of one’s behavioural patterns in relation to the status quo; consequentially rethinking the assumption of free-will. Having been raised in a multigenerational military family has recently inspired me to devote my current artistic efforts on the topics of hyper-masculinity and suburbia. These projects mark a departure from my predominant background in painting onto a digitized method of creation via Photoshop and 3D modelling software Blender. What unfolded from topic of hyper masculinity is a series of satiric works, with a certain interest and accommodation for the validity of the subject matter’s inherent bad taste in regards to its aesthetic qualities. In other words, extracting and reworking the artistic value found in the virile indoctrination of the male population through the riconography of cool as witnessed throughout my upbringing. Learning Blender 2.81, I tried to exploit the plasticity of the suburbs by modelling a simulation that mimics the rigid unease of the suburban landscape and its social counterpart. Highlighting the surrealist undertone of a cultural movement that prides itself on its ability to eradicate diversity with conformity, rational sustainability with disproportionate consumerism, and its incessant need to fancily barricade itself from the ever decaying quality of the human condition.
CASSIDY GEHMLICH / Satisfaction Guaranteed
(flyer clippings, spackle, acrylic, and varnish on canvas). 2019
In modern society, we are force-fed the idea that our happiness and fulfillment is directly proportional to our consumption of material goods. Production and advertising companies work in tandem to fabricate a need for their product where it did not previously exist, and they do a damn good job of it. Through planned obsolescence and strategic marketing, these companies have given us, the consumers, a taste for commerce. We often experience a sense of manic euphoria as we perpetually acquire these cheaply- and unethically-made goods, that are specifically designed to be replaced. We have consequently come to equate imperfection with inadequacy; material waste notwithstanding, if something is stained, chipped, scratched or out-of-date, it must be replaced.
Thus, the object is tied to status – not function.
“Satisfaction Guaranteed” pokes fun at the absurd notion that consumption leads to happiness. The piece is gaudy and flashy, paralleling the cheap ways that marketing campaigns prey on our psychology. My work is informed by my own vulnerability and insecurity, never having had the means to obtain the latest, greatest, brand name product. This is an unnecessary privilege, reserved for the affluent.
While consumerism is at the foundation of our culture and economic system, blind materialism threatens to leave us perpetually unsatisfied – drowning in our own deficiency.