Aganetha Dyck | Diana Thorneycroft | Reva Stone
This exhibition celebrates the distinct practices of Aganetha Dyck, Diana Thorneycroft, and Reva Stone – and their enduring relationship as artists, women, and friends. Together and apart, their holistic and feminist relationship binds art and life into an evolving conversation.
We deeply respect each other’s practices and exhibiting together is a wonderful way to celebrate what we feel is a very special relationship. – Aganetha, Diana, Reva 
Video Animation: CVAG MEDIA WINDOW + GALLERY PLAZA
Animation created by Taylor Robinson | Graphic by Marlee Berry
Images courtesy of Aganetha Dyck, Diana Thorneycroft, Reva Stone
THE ARCHITECTURE OF RELATIONSHIP AND ART
Co-Curators Denise Lawson + Angela Somerset in Conversation
As collaborating curators, we are interested in the power of relationships as a structural framework that informs and empowers the creation of art.
In an article about the power of friendship as significant in the practices of artists, Shira Wolfe states “Artists need other artists to challenge, inspire, and support
each other.” The author goes on to say that artists Helen Frankenthaler and Grace Hartigan, who were part of the male-dominated Abstract Expressionist circles and contributed to the development of what we now know as feminism in art, stood up against the prevailing sexism in the art world at the time, and remained determined to keep forging their paths in art. Their relationship supported each other in this struggle.
In 2019, Angela Somerset, Aganetha Dyck, Diana Thorneycroft and Reva Stone were reunited for a visit. Their conversation recognized that peer relationships were key to their successful growth and development as artists. Earlier in their careers, all four women had been involved with the organization Mentoring Women for Women’s Art. MAWA was created “to support the intellectual and creative development of women, non-binary, trans and 2-Spirit woman-identifying people in the visual arts to foster their practices and professional development by providing diverse programming within a supportive community.”
Over the years, Aganetha Dyck, Reva Stone and Diana Thorneycroft developed an enduring relationship while their autonomous practices deepened, and their visibility as major Canadian artists took root.
Although they have not collaborated with one another, they have collaborated with artists, cultural workers, technologists, researchers and other specialists. They have committed themselves to involvement with regional artist-run centres, educational programs, and art institutions as mentors, advisors, and educators.
In a letter to the artists following this visit, Angela wrote: “I was moved to hear about your individual work, how you are navigating your practices and how you support one another with a generosity of spirit and rigour. All of you mentioned how grateful you are for one another. It is a very special dynamic. …an exhibition that celebrates your work and your relationships will be important.”
From that time, we began the collaborative curatorial work of developing an exhibition that would hold up the long relationship between the three contemporary artists and their distinct art practices.
A ROAD TRIP – FORMING THE FOUNDATION
In 2022, having traveled to the land’s centre, we are standing in the cool stairwell of an early 1900’s warehouse building in the Exchange District of Winnipeg, Manitoba — now a National Historic Site of Canada. Built in the Chicago School style, the architecture is iconic with its sturdy timber frame and classic cladding of sandstone bricks and frosted glass panels. The stairs wind up and up and up — five stories to doors that open into bright open spaces that, during a long gone economic hey-day, housed the activities of production commerce. Time and history transformed the buildings into a new kind of production space — artist studios. It is here that we find ourselves, on a warm day in the early summer, where decades earlier Aganetha Dyck, Reva Stone, and Diana Thorneycroft came together
under one roof.
We asked the artists about their memory of acquiring the common studio. In response, we received this correspondence: “The story is a little lost in the mists of time. It’s strange, I was thinking about this earlier this morning. I was looking for a new space, and talked to Diana who was looking for a new space as well. We heard about the space being available. We both went to look at it. What I remember clearly is our reaction to the space when the two of us walked in. It was huge — 3200 square feet with no dividing walls, new plywood flooring and new bathroom. We both were truly excited about its potential. I knew Aganetha once had a studio on the 5th floor above and no longer had a studio that she was happy with, so we approached her. We were able to carve up the space to fit each of our needs and the rest is history….. Aganetha and I had already formed a friendship. Diana was easy to get to know better. And we were very happy together.” – Reva Stone
For nearly three decades, the studio housed the three artists as they made very different work — conceptually and materially. Over time their connection to one another became one of deep respect and camaraderie.
BOARD MEETINGS – STRUCTURAL INTERSECTIONS AND STRONG CONVERSATIONS
Year by year, as they worked under one roof, they did not collaborate on projects nor critique one another’s work. They did however call “board meetings” to discuss the practical matters of the shared studio and the stuff of life that needed the listening ears of trusted friends. Their willingness to hold space for each other’s
art and lives bonded them.
We asked the artists to make a video recording for the window media gallery screen as part of the exhibition. The video, entitled Board Meeting, weaves a conversation about their longs-standing relationship as studio mates and their autonomous practices. A tangible ease and respect flows between the three of them as they recall times when each arrived at the studio feeling the heaviness of life. Behind the door, there was comradery and the comforting sounds of one another working away on their individual projects — and, when called, their board meetings, that were filled with generous doses of compassion, humour and celebration of individual successes. Their presence to one another nourished them as they showed up, day after day over the years, to meet the demands of their rigorous practices.
Together under one roof the artists co-housed physically and psychologically. The impact of this studio dynamic is perhaps better described as a homing because it evokes a deeper understanding of the complexity of the cohabitation between them. Art and life provided a solid framework for what has become an enduring and layered relationship.
In the footage, they muse about formative experiences that gave them a foundational freedom to move forward into the world as courageous women artists. Their upbringings did not constrain their curious minds. An agile curiosity and fluid playfulness threads through their conversation as they talk about their sustained ability to wonder, and question, and create over the decades to this day. They talk with sensitivity about the impacts of their individual cultural backgrounds in forming their understanding of who they were in the world and how these perspectives have been an impetus for their creative practices. That they are artists together — yet apart — is evidenced in the trajectories of their artwork. The exhibition holds aspects and overlaps of the artists’ thinking and making: a woman’s place within domesticity/profession/art world, interspecies relationships, collaborations, wonder and disregard of the natural world, the pandemic’s imposed loneliness and fears, calculated abuse, oppression, confinement, interfaces with diverse technologies, the war machine’s articulation of surveillance and collateral damage, and the subversiveness of mind control. Each artist’s work reshapes and reconstructs facets of the familiar world around us and in that process, perceptions are altered and perspectives changed.
A SOLID CONSTRUCTION – LOOKING FORWARD
A year ago, we climbed the well-worn steps to the artists’ common studio. With them we looked back over the years they have shared this space. We listened to them recall the journey of successful singular careers and what it has meant to have been ‘homed’ together along the way. We have turned with them towards the unfolding future – a time when they are no longer together under one roof. Virtual and occasional in-person board meetings shelter their ongoing connection. A framework of intimate friendship binds them together as each artist continues a rigorous art practice.
The shared architecture of this exhibition under one roof celebrates the powerful art of Reva Stone, Aganetha Dyck and Diana Thorneycroft. Together and apart, their holistic and feminist relationship binds art and life into an evolving public conversation.
SOUTH GALLERY | WINDOW + PLAZA MEDIA GALLERY
Aganetha Dyck is a Canadian artist interested in environmental issues – specifically the power of the small. She is interested in interspecies communication. Her research asks questions about the ramifications all living beings would experience should honeybees disappear from earth. Aganetha Dyck has been the recipient of: Making a Mark Award from Winnipeg Arts Council in recognition of excellence in professional artistic practice, 2013 | Art City Star Award, 2013 | Spotlight on 40 years: Artworks from the Canada Council Art Bank, 2012 | Canada Council’s Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts, 2007 | Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction, 2006.
Aganetha (Richard’s mother) and Richard have collaborated three times. The first time included photographer William Eakin and resulted in an interactive multimedia CD-ROM titled The Wax Museum (1995-96).
A second collaboration between Richard and Aganetha was to fulfill a Canada Council research grant for a proposal they’d titled Interspecies Communication (2000-02) . Prior to and during that collaboration Richard had been flatbed-scanning the interior of his and TW’s home, horses, lambs, fish, etc., and bug traps, resulting in three pieces, House (2000), Species (2001), and Bug Traps (2001). A year or so prior to this, Richard had recorded audio in Aganetha’s bee hives, which resulted in Hive Conversation (2000). While working on Interspecies Communication, Aganetha asked, “Can you put your scanner in a bee hive?” “Sure!” And that became their third collaboration, the Hive Scan series (2001-03).
Richard Dyck is a Canadian artist who is interested in the abstract and reductive qualities of computers and other digital and analog devices and their application to the web. He sees those characteristics as good tools to explore human nature and limitations imposed by biology.
Richard is currently developing a web app titled The Strewn. It is and likely always will be a work-in-progress, even after it’s available on-line.
Richard has received grants from the Winnipeg Arts Council, the Manitoba Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts. Aganetha’s and his Hive Scans have exhibited internationally, are in the National Gallery of Canada’s collection, in the Canada Council Art Bank, in many gallery collections and many individual collections, including The Canadian Embassy, Berlin, Germany. Richard’s Hive Conversation has exhibited at Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba School of Fine Arts and at DeLeon White Gallery, Toronto.
The works Hives Scans (altered by the Bees) + Hive Conversation are a collaboration between Canadian artist Richard Dyck and Aganetha Dyck with the bees. Images created using a flatbed scanner inside a beehive. The non-bee objects are artworks in-progress, sculptures-to-be made by the artists and the bees. The bees paint as they move relative to the scan head over the scanner bed, their images compressing and smearing anfractuously. We control sunlight with the lid of the beehive, cracking it a little for a wisp.
Richard Dyck began making art by writing computer games and collaborating with other artists to produce interactive digital works, either disc-based or as gallery-spanning installations. Eventually he began using a flatbed scanner as a camera, scanning home, gallery, office and library interiors, farm animals and the interior of beehives and other artworks.
Known for making art that frequently employs black humour and hovers on the edge of public acceptance, Diana Thorneycroft has pursued subject matter that often challenges her viewing audience.
As a child, Thorneycroft lived on a Canadian military base near Baden-Baden, Germany. The Black Forest was her playground and has had a profound influence on her artistic practice. Stemming from the recently touring installation Black Forest (dark waters), her first stop-motion animation short film Black Forest Sanatorium had its world premiere at the 2020 Vancouver International Film Festival. It has since shown in fifteen other venues, including galleries and festivals. Thorneycroft is currently working on her second stop-motion animation, Black Forest Fastnacht, that focuses on a novice priest attempting to get to church during the last hour of a raunchy Mardi Gras carnival.
GEORGE SAWCHUK GALLERY
Reva Stone is a Canadian artist whose work is informed by a broad theoretical context that includes an examination of the mediation between our bodies and the technologies that are altering how we interact with the world. In her most recent work, she is examining how artificial intelligence algorithms are used in forms of surveillance that enters our homes – those intimate spaces we currently consider private. She is particularly interested in the consequences to our subjectivities
if what we are not yet able to render into digital form – our thoughts, dreams, hopes and memories
– become digital.
Reva has received many awards, including the 2017 Distinguished Alumnae Award from the University of Manitoba | the 2015 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts | and an honorable mention from Life 5.0, Art & Artificial Life International Competition, Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, Spain. She has exhibited widely in Canada, the US and Europe; presented at symposia; and has been published in journals such as Second Nature: The International Journal of Creative Media.