Over the past 18 months, many folks have had to adapt to working in isolation and discover new ways of staying connected within our communities. Throughout the summer, we invited artists of all ages to participate in the creation of a collaborative mural and share their stories with us, answering the question: “How has art given you strength this past year?”
The 40 + participants completed their visual responses both at home and at the Gallery in our Summer Art Camp, and were given only two guidelines: use only one colour of paint mixed with black and white and incorporate the section of black line on their canvas with their composition.
The black line begins on the top left of the wall, and continues, through each artwork and then back onto the wall, ending at the bottom right of the wall. Some of the panels were not returned in time for the exhibition, so spaces were held for those canvas that remain in isolation, with the connecting line drawn onto the wall between the surrounding panels.
Adjacent to the Art in Isolation: How We Connect Through Art mural is a selection of artworks created during our Summer Art Camps. The wall was painted in an ombre of purple fading into pink, to both contrast the artwork and to highlight the bright moments and connection that art can bring to our lives.
July 17 to September 18, 2021
Holding a line in your hand presents the work of five Canadian women painters from different cultural backgrounds, at different stages in their careers, and based at opposite ends of the country. Their work contains divergent methodologies, but also strong affinities. The exhibition includes artwork abundant in colour, line, and texture, embedded with and unencumbered by ideas. The focus on a small group of female painters offers a renewed perspective on an historically male-dominated domain and reflects today’s growing number of female artists working in the medium. Exploring and expropriating the idea of the painting in a myriad of ways, these artists share an expanded approach to painting. Holding a line in your hand speaks to a resurgence of painting in Canada and an active dialogue around historical precedents and contemporary approaches.
Works in the exhibition by Azadeh Elmizadeh, Colleen Heslin, Russna Kaur, Lyse Lemieux, and Rajni Perera include large-scale dyed canvases and site-specific wall paintings, experimental works on fabric and rope, as well as painted objects. Many of the works integrate textiles as part of a conversation about their everyday use, formal possibilities, and historically gendered associations. Other works interweave cultural tradition and storytelling, including the futurities of science fiction. The title of the exhibition – Holding a line in your hand – borrows a phrase from the way Lyse Lemieux has described her artistic process, which, for all the artists in the exhibition, implicates the body. Figures appear in much of the work, both through representation and abstraction, offering a bodily presence.
Having attended art school in the 1970s, Lyse Lemieux’s practice reflects a honed approach and the lived experience of painting’s evolving insignificance and resurgence. Her interdisciplinary practice has focused strongly on drawing, and includes sculpture, painting, and installation. Most recently her work includes numerous public art projects, reflecting an implicit tension between the support and dominance that built spaces offer. Fabric wall hangings in this exhibition appear like soft suspended buildings. These works, largely assembled from men’s tartan and plaid shirt collars and cuffs, play off the ever-present line in Lemieux’s paintings and the undercurrent of a gendered bodily presence in her work. Through considerations of process and materiality, Lemieux’s explorations probe the space between abstraction and representation as they relate to the human figure. The motif of the black tunic she wore as a girl in Catholic school appears repeatedly in her work, each line working through memory. Her awareness of working as a woman artist is never directly addressed but is embedded within each work and is part of a relational conversation between works. Revealed in her statement, “I need to hold the line in my hand.” Lemieux’s visual language is graphic, motivated by line, bodily gesture, and optical effect.
Azadeh Elmizadeh is a recent Masters of Fine Arts graduate from Guelph University, Guelph, ON, and before that she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ontario College of Art & Design University, Toronto, ON. Elmizadeh’s large-scale paintings incorporate the subtly of abstract colour fields with figuration, where a narrative appears as if through an atmospheric haze of lush colour. Often figures are shown doing acts of care, like gardening. Drawing on her Iranian heritage, many of Elmizadeh’s works incorporate Sufi cosmology and conventions of Persian miniature painting. Found in private, illustrated books, Persian miniatures emerged as a predominant genre in the Islamic art of the 13th century, through to the 16th century. In her ethereal painting Circling Around, Elmizadeh captures the whirling movement of figures dancing, referencing the dancing dervishes in the work of early 16th-century miniature painter Kamal al-Din Bihzad. Bihzad was known for the unique inclusion of empty space in his illustrations, which allowed the subjects of the painting to occupy more prominence in the composition. Unlike the detailed illustrative renderings in these miniatures, however, Elmizadeh’s paintings are to scale with the human body, consuming in their presence and enigmatic in their subject matter.
Rajni Perera’s work is conceivably the most figurative of all the works in the exhibition, yet her figures are not clearly identifiable. Born in Sri Lanka and now based in Toronto, ON, Perera explores issues of hybridity, futurity, ancestry, immigrant identity, monsters, and dream worlds through multi-media installations. These themes come together in what Perera calls, “a newly objectified realm of mythical symbioses.” Through her dynamic and colourful visual language a subversive aesthetic also works to reclaim power, particularly female agency. Perera’s dancer series, included in this exhibition, emerged in 2018 from an exploration of the aesthetic of science fiction and an interest in body dynamics. Jewellery design motifs and abstraction fuse into celestial silhouettes that appear to be swaying or dancing. Painted sculptural objects accompany the dancers as if props for a performance or tools for galactic exploration. These figures metaphorically extend from the frame and come alive in a site-specific painting made directly on the Gallery’s wall. Adapted from a similar wall painting made for the exhibition Migrating the Margins at the Art Gallery of York University, Toronto, ON, these larger-than-life, vividly coloured, and intertwined hybrid figures speak to Perera’s immigrant experience of otherness in Canada, inhabiting an otherworldly fantastical space.
Russna Kaur was born in Toronto, ON, and is now based in Vancouver, BC, where she received a Masters in Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2019 and where she is now a faculty member. Kaur’s work in the exhibition begins on the exterior banner outside the Gallery. Her interest in the mechanics and materiality of painting is evident in large-scale works comprised of multiple panels that often change composition depending on the context. Stretching beyond the frame and modified to fit corners formed by the gallery walls, Kaur’s work is responsive to the built environment and to the way we read paintings. Kaur’s large compositions are developed through digital sketches and a rigorous exploration of colour, line, and texture, incorporating collaged material and revealing rough moments of imperfection within the composition. Through detailed attention to the surface materiality, Kaur presents a tension between representation and abstraction in her work and shares an awareness of the art historical weight of these approaches to painting. Kaur uses this surface to address complex personal and cultural narratives that evoke the cultural significance of colour within her Punjabi community where she has described colour “as a marker of energy and joy, but also as a mask for intergenerational trauma.” Like Lemieux’s work, line is an important tool that Kaur uses to make her paintings visually cohesive. Line also acts metaphorically in her work as a common thread that connects the fragments of personal narrative, holding it together.
Colleen Heslin’s work similarly considers art history and social histories, integrating an awareness of gender and labour into abstraction. Having graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts from Concordia University, Montréal, PQ, in 2014 after receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2003, and working as a professional artist and arts worker in cities throughout Canada for years, Heslin is now based in rural BC, where her studio practice is more in tune with and dictated by the seasons. In a new body of work presented for the first time in this exhibition, Heslin’s abstraction draws on spiritual meditation paintings from 17th century Hindu Tantras in Rajasthan, India, 19th century Amish quilt designs, along with 1960s Minimalism. Using a sparse colour palette and repeated shapes and lines, Heslin describes these paintings as “mapping energy through colour and form.” Containing only the essential information and vibrating with line and colour, Heslin’s meditations encompass the vital energy necessary for life, evoking natural phenomenon, including the light of the sun, the glow of the moon, and the cycles of a day and a season. Seemingly simple, the sheer scale of each work in relation to the body and the optical effects of line and colour extend these meditative vibrations to the viewer’s experience.
Steeped in centuries-old, academic traditions, painting has long been revered as the highest art form. As artists have pushed up against tradition over the past one hundred and fifty years, the objective of a painting, what comprises a new painting movement, and what is considered a masterpiece worthy of the canon has shifted dramatically. Painting in Canada today defies singular definition and can be understood through expanded practices that contribute to a broader dialogue about art. Artists working in this medium acknowledge and push against painting’s history, integrate personal narrative, cultural tradition, and formal convention, along with experimental strategies. Through Holding a line in your hand, these five leading women artists convey a diverse view of painting today while sharing the expansive possibilities of this long-venerated medium.
Watch a tour of the exhibition online, here.
Watch an online conversation between the Curator, Charo Neville, and the artists, Azadeh Elmizadeh, Colleen Heslin, Russna Kaur, Lyse Lemieux, and Rajni Perera here.
Russna Kaur Burnt away in layers of clouds they fall slowly… suspended in air, free as a gift, 2021 acrylic, oil, pastel, crayon, felt and found wood on velvet, silk, canvas and wood panel 365.7 x 259 cm
Basketry was important to our cultural identity and women were and are the culture bearers, their knowledge of the seasons, harvesting, ethnobotanical knowledge, technical skill and incredible patience transferred this knowledge from generation to generation. Our baskets were not just an important cultural item, but practical as well, cooking, drinking water, tea, storage of dry goods, sacred items and even baby baskets, all aspects of life were a part of basketry. Including trade, not just amongst our nation, but the coastal and other interior nations as well. We could even cook with them, they were woven tight tight enough to hold tea, cook food and much more.
This pattern is a bit more modern in terms of colours, we had a bright yellow/green wall and I wanted to use it instead of paint over it and create a longer process to get it done. Practicality and problem solving is a huge part of my life and culture, so I decided we should use the current colour and selected fun, bright and bold colours to represent traditional colours and patterns used on a huckleberry basket. They were typically large, 30 cm height, 40 cm long and 30 cm wide, they held a lot of berries and other goods. The motifs are of butterflies for fun and beauty, the triangle shaped lines, purple representing the mountains and valleys of the Spence’s Bridge area and the blue lines represent the Thompson and Nicola rivers. The huckleberry bushes are green and purple and add to the beauty of the designs. Berries were typically dried or mashed with other fruits or even venison to create jerky and dried fruit for the winter months. If they made it that far, as I’m sure kids being kids, would find it and sneak it when they could, just like today.
People have this impression life was hard and brutal but really, food was far more abundant than today, fish, game and berries, the seasons were more predictable and we had been living here for thousands of years, I’m pretty sure we had it down solidly. I’m also sure there was a lot fun and sun going on when they weren’t preparing for winter, knowledge being shared through storytelling, community built around food, fun and family, not just struggle and strife like we’ve been taught in settler versions of history. Bit by bit we reclaim that and bring it back to life with exhibitions like this and we continue to build community and share knowledge, that’s what it’s really all about.
Kukstemc to Nathan O’Connor, Monique Reiswig, Jes and Alec Von Henske for contributing and painting the mural and patiently listening to me tell stories while we painted it. It was a community
The letters written to Modahl in response to her question are intended to provide an outlet for the writer, some of whom chose to write anonymously, some not. Modahl then transformed the words into a long letter-form artwork of gestural writing overlaid and abstracted in ink across a continuous scroll of paper. Viewers are invited to enter the gallery and walk beneath and beside, and look over the words through a shared experience.
Amy Modahl is based in Salmon Arm, BC. Her practice includes painting, drawing, stop-motion animation, and performance. Modahl has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions including at the Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna, BC; the Alternator Centre, Kelowna, BC; Wallace Galleries, Calgary, AB; Stride Gallery, Calgary, AB; Vernon Public Art Gallery, Vernon, BC; and Soo Visual Art Center, Minneapolis, MN. She has an Interdisciplinary Masters of Fine Art in Visual Art from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus, Kelowna, BC; a Masters in Applied Linguistics from Northern Arizona University; and a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art, Art History, and Spanish from St. Cloud State in Minnesota.
Amy Modahl How have you been?, 2021 ink, varnish, graphite, and oil stick on transfer roll paper, 91 x 1829 cm. Photo: Garnet Dirksen
Bloomberg media recently released an article condemning Vancouver, BC, as the “Anti-Asian Hate Capital of North America” and included data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism out of California State University at San Bernardino. Anti-Asian hate incidents in Vancouver have increased 717% compared with 2019, with nearly 1 in every 2 Asian British Columbians reporting a hate incident in the past year alone.
As British Columbians and as community members in general, we each have an urgent responsibility to educate ourselves and actively work towards a better future.
Come see our text on the Open Gallery and take a resource bookmark to help educate and contribute to the stand against racism.
We are transitioning to a new website.
Details about this exhibition can be found here.
Kite Listener, 2018 Performance documentation Photo by vog.photo. Collection of the artist.
The sculptures are liminal structures that transform the gallery space into an arena for experiential dance. They initiate a desire to be held, dwelled within, stood upon, shaken, or worn on one’s head. Pictorial space is navigated in both two and three dimensions allowing for spatial and embodied images to be created through the object’s entrances and exits, physical follies, and material oppressions.
For this project, the artists created a video reminiscent of 1960s performance art, while taking cues from contemporary dance. Enacted by amateur performers, the stark repetition of simple movements is juxtaposed by a curious engagement with hybridized objects that are both utilitarian and functional in nature. Amidst the subject’s multimodal engagement with highly fetishized material phenomena, subtle themes of gender play emerge. Traditional archetypes of masculinity and femininity are transformed to elicit new ways of thinking about the body’s relationship to objects and the visual cultures that inform these engagements.
The Laboratory of Spatial Bemusement sets up conditions for thinking about our cultural associations with objects in relation to gender and capital conditions as a way of reflecting on how we relate to the world around us.
Tia Halliday + Megan Dyck
An Operational Gaze, 2020
With the cancellation of the TRU BFA graduating exhibition traditionally held throughout the studios in the Visual Arts Department and in the Thompson Rivers University Gallery each spring, the Kamloops Art Gallery is honoured to present this exhibition at the KAG in support of the graduates and faculty.
Omnium Gatherum | A collection of miscellaneous things showcases the final projects developed by a group of 13 students during their time in the visual arts program. The Cube, Open Gallery, and the Tricia Sellmer and Ken Lepin Studios have been transformed to present selections from bodies of work produced in the graduates’ 4th year of study, leading to the completion of their Bachelor of Fine Arts.
This gathering of works, as inferred in the exhibition title, addresses diverse subject matter and explores a range of mediums, including digital media, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and installation.
We live in a time when major advances in scientific knowledge are made daily. We have progressed from once believing the earth was flat to now having direct evidence of gravitational waves and black holes, as predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The 1972 Blue Marble photograph of the Earth taken by the Apollo 17 Spacecraft crew on route to the moon is one of the most reproduced images in history; seeing this image for the first time was a watershed moment that transformed humanity’s view of the world. With every new discovery about the universe’s expansiveness, our sense of significance diminishes. This knowledge can be overwhelming and difficult to comprehend. Massey grapples with his existence and our collective existence within this seemingly infinite context by creating a visual framework that is often experimental and driven by a deep curiosity. While recognizing the historical divide between science and religion, Massey offers a critical reframing of humbling concepts to disrupt these binaries and allow space for quiet contemplation, where scientific and spiritual dimensions can coexist.
Using light as a medium and employing image-making apparatus in both the creation and presentation of works, Massey’s practice takes up the mechanisms of photography in sculptural forms. The ground glass lens has played a pivotal role in Massey’s work, through the medium of photography, but also as a fundamental instrument of light gathering. Much of what we currently know about the cosmos can be traced back to the invention of the ground glass lens. Galileo’s lens-based observations of the moons of Jupiter in the early 17th century led him to confirm the heliocentric theories of Copernicus (1543), which propose that the planets orbit the sun and the Earth turns daily on its own axis. These theories mark a shift away from a religious-based world view to scientific observation of the “heavens.”
Connecting the physical properties of light and the paradigm-shifting potential of the ground glass lens, Massey’s work visualizes everyday phenomenon that we might take for granted. The video work Untitled (An Object Kindly Enclyning), 2012, presents a large magnifying lens spinning and wobbling on an illuminated glass surface, falling on its side and then righting itself and spinning in the opposite direction, repeating the sequence in an endless loop, and playing with our perception of gravity. The work borrows its title from Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem Hous of Fame written in the late 14th century and draws on Copernican theories of gravity, a subject further developed by Galileo.
The panoramic installation The Day Breaks, 2013, presents a time-lapse "photograph" of changing light captured over the course of a day onto a single image plane in real time, made using a device constructed from salvaged enlarger lenses and ABS plumbing pipes. In his ongoing photographic series Via Lactea, 2014-, Massey captures small sections of the night sky over the course of many hours on the same segment of Kodak Ektar film in remote locations with little light pollution in order to achieve the illusion of seeing white stars on a luminous blue background ? a reminder that the stars are still “out” during the daytime. Through the use of a full-spectrum light bulb and grass grown in a circular planter over the course of the exhibition, Rememoration Piece (grass ring), 2004/2020, evokes questions about our definitions of “natural” and “artificial” and our relationship to the natural world.
All these works play with scale, investigating small and large phenomenon as a way to reveal aspects of the seemingly unknowable, unfathomable, or invisible. Grounded in both the macro and micro, the exhibition presents over 15 years of Massey’s ambitious and meticulous undertakings, as a portal for contemplating the inexplicable.
Massey holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver, BC; and has participated in residencies at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, Dawson City, YK; the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Banff, AB; Dazibao/PRIM, Montréal, PQ; and Lumen Collective, Atina, Italy. He has been awarded numerous production/creation grants from the BC Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, as well as a number of other scholarships and awards.
Solo exhibitions include Movement Without Moving, VU Photo, Québec City, PQ (2018); Black Hole Sun (with Blaine Campbell) at Republic Gallery, Vancouver, BC (2016); Unstable Ground, Burnaby Art Gallery, Burnaby, BC (2015); Light Adjustments, Dazibao, Montréal, PQ (2014/15); Let’s Reach c Together, Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver, BC (2013); The Day Breaks, Gallery295, Vancouver, BC (2013); Topologies and Limits, CSA Space, Vancouver, BC (2011); Swan Song, Luminato Festival, Toronto, ON (2009); Mi>Collapse: Spill 01, Artspeak, Vancouver, BC (2004). His work has also been included in group shows at Gallery44, Toronto, ON; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC; the Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, Ohio; and Contact Photography Festival, Toronto, ON. Scott Massey currently lives and works on Bowen Island, BC.
The title of the exhibition, A Marker to Measure Drift, and included artwork are borrowed from a book of the same name by Alexander Maksik.
A video tour of the exhibition with Scott Massey and Charo Neville can be viewed HERE. Many thanks to Jonathan Fulton who recorded and edited this video.
Transit (viewed through unexposed processed transparency film), 2012
99 x 122 cm
Klapstock’s Ambiguous Landscapes (2003–) is a photographic and video series of human-made and natural landscapes that are spatially ambiguous in scale due to the size of the image and the framing of the subject matter. The series was first exhibited at the Kamloops Art Gallery in 2006 as a touring solo exhibition, Lisa Klapstock: Liminal coordinated by the Kamloops Art Gallery, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, and Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery. This work, entitled Kamloops (2004), is captured in two parts. The first image is dislocated and abstracted from any frame of reference or scale while the second image reveals scale through the presence of a person. The two images are installed on opposite walls as a way of reinforcing the difference in how the landscape is represented and to create an uncanny viewer experience. The photographs capture a snapshot of a place and time in space that has been framed by the artist in a way that allows for only a limited perspective. Shown in the context of Kamloops, Klapstock’s representation of the grasslands in this region evokes a sense of familiarity, reflecting the geography outside the Gallery, while offering a shift in how we see this familiar landscape.
While Klapstock distorts our perception of our surroundings, Mark Soo looks inward, distorting the actual film captured. In his work Indeterminate Parts (2009), Soo has enlarged a portion of a film negative showing an automotive garage. The negative is enlarged allowing particles of film grain to be revealed and distorting the image when viewed closely. The scattered tools and car parts warrant closer inspection but only by backing away does the image reveal that things are not as they seem. Soo is interested in exploring the picture plane and the flatness of photography while playing with the viewer’s changing perception of the image. In this work he interrogates the spatial relationship of the viewer to the work and how meaning changes depending on the physical viewpoint.
Together, Klapstock and Soo offer new ways of looking through their approach to representation and provoking questions about what we think we see. They are interested in the mechanism of image as captured through analogue photography. Klapstock’s landscapes question what it is we are looking at absent of context and how our views change once that context is provided. Soo’s images reverse the relationship of viewer to image. Rather than images becoming clearer as the viewer draws near, the viewer is forced to recede in order to bring things into focus.
Lisa Klapstock is a Kamloops-born, Canadian artist working in photography and video. She has exhibited her photography in North America and Europe including The Center for Photography, New York; Gallery TPW, Toronto; Presentation House, Vancouver and La Musee de al Photographie, Belgium.
Mark Soo is a Canadian artist based in Berlin and Vancouver. He graduated from Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design in 2001. Past exhibitions include presentations at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at UBC, Vancouver; Vancouver Art Gallery; Western Bridge, Seattle; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp; Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; and the Biennale für Aktuelle Fotografie, Heidelberg. He works in a variety of media including photography, sound, and video, which he uses to investigate notions of perception, modes of representation, and considerations of social space. His work draws on diverse sources ranging from art history to popular and social histories.
Installation view of Lisa Klapstock and Mark Soo Ambiguous Parts.
Photo: Garnet Dirksen
Comet MMXVIII was created for the Gallery’s Luminocity 2018 exhibition (luminocity.ca) and served as a beacon of light at Riverside Park during this evening festival of video projections and new media projects. Installed on top of the newly renovated TNRD entrance, this light sculpture will act as a beacon for this public building, marking it as a significant civic and cultural space in the city. It holds visual interest in the daytime and at night, celebrating this building as a key public space in downtown Kamloops and highlighting an exceptional example of local talent. The sculpture also serves as an opportunity to showcase a new work acquired for the Kamloops Art Gallery’s collection and visibly marks the excellence embodied in one of Kamloops’ principle cultural institutions. The sculpture is representative of the Gallery’s rigorous exhibition program and commitment to community engagement.
Donald Lawrence is a professor in the Visual Arts Program at Thompson Rivers University. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria, Victoria, BC and a Masters of Fine Arts from York University, Toronto, ON and exhibits his artwork nationally and internationally. Lawrence was the 2017 recipient of the Kamloops Mayor’s Award for the Arts Artist of the Year award and was the first Chair of the City of Kamloops’ Arts Commission.
Research for this sculpture draws upon Lawrence’s duel interest in solar phenomenon and optical devices. He referenced numerous books in this research and made sketches based on medieval imagery he sourced. These ephemeral resources will also be displayed in the entrance to the TNRD building to further inform visitors about the sculpture and Lawrence’s art practice, and to mirror the Library’s fundamental interest in books, their importance and history.
Donald Lawrence Comet MMXVIII, 2018 salvaged galvanized items and fluorescent light tubes, LED lights, Bubble Wrap, rope and tackle 444.5 x 279.4 x 88.9 cm Photo: Krystyna Halliwell
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