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Cover Image: Skin for Skin (work in progress; storyboard frames exerpt).
Kevin D.A. Kurytnik. 2015
R E T I R I NG FACULTY
KEN WE B B School of Visual Art Printmaking Webb vs. Bacon—Through the Looking Glass Walter May, Retired Faculty This picture (Fig.1), taken in 1977, during Ken Webb’s residency at the Royal College in London, portrays Francis Bacon’s sitting room at #7 Reese Mews, London. The photo records a rather small room containing a bentwood chair with cane back, a radiator pushed up against a mirror, and a desk upon which is a stack of books. Behind this is a cupboard of some sort backed up against an alcove in the back wall which provides shelf space for even more books. However, the most prominent feature of the photo is a floor length mirror displaying a golden reflection of the room… in which we see…
a cameraman,1 steadying himself by squatting on the floor and directing his attention to a shattered area of the mirror.2 Behind the photographer is a partially open door upon which is hung drapery of some sort. To the photographers left is a low dresser stacked with a roll of paper, and other indeterminate objects, as well as a mirror image of the bentwood chair with the cane back situated slightly to the right of the dresser. To the far left of the photo, there appears the corner of a larger upholstered chair or couch directly facing the dresser, perhaps with the hint of someone sitting there. On the wall above the dresser we see a fantastic lyrical scribble of light and shadow for which there is no visible explanation. In front of all of these things is the excellent reflection of the radiator. Finally, at the edge of the door on the photographer’s right, there is a second figure, leaning slightly towards the photographer but also looking into the mirror. This, we are told, is the artist Francis Bacon.
How did Ken meet Francis Bacon and gain access to his rooms? While partaking of a late afternoon pint with his friend Ian M. in a South Kensington pub, Ken spots Francis Bacon exiting a bus. He bolts from the bar leaving Ian to settle the bill and chases Bacon down just before he is about to enter his rooms. Employing a polite and deferential Canadian demeanour, Ken asks Mr. Bacon if he would care to engage in some sort of conversation about “art” with a couple of students from THE ROYAL COLLEGE. Bacon, somewhat taken by surprise, declines, explaining that at the moment there is a lack of consumables in his rooms, but somehow being attracted to the youngsters panache, he invites them back to his studio later in the week. What happened next? Despite a suspicion that Bacon’s invitation is simply a strategy to ditch the two admirers, Ken and Ian return to #17 Reese Mews several days later, and are met at the door by Francis who leads them up the narrow stairway with the rope railing to the artist’s sanctum, where they are treated to an afternoon of stimulating discussion fuelled by enough whiskey and New Castle Brown Ale to make everyone comfortable.3 What then? At some point there is a tour of the studio in which Ken and Ian get to tread on the spongy floor, and experience the particular ambience required for a painter like Francis to function. Ken recalls a characteristic work in progress on the easel and a series of holey paintings4 stacked around the room. The notorious chaos of the studio did not disappoint. And what about the photo? Upon returning to the sitting room, Ken, who has realized in advance that he will need some proof of this escapade, produces a camera.”5 In 1977 it was entirely reasonable for an art student to carry a 35mm camera at all times.” and now concocts a scheme to take a photo that will include everything that is most important about the afternoon—primarily that Francis Bacon has let them in. Ken notices that the broken mirror reflects a significant portion of the
room and asks permission to take the shot illustrated (Fig.1). He manages to capture the golden atmosphere of the room while simultaneously documenting Bacon and himself and perhaps the smallest portion of Ken’s colleague Ian, sitting on the couch. Not wanting to appear as some sort of amateur paparazzi, Ken limits himself to one take—and what we see here is the result. The image is admittedly blurry, but considering the circumstances with the dubious lighting, the dirty broken mirror acting as an additional imprecise lens, and the fact that the photographer has perhaps been compromised by several hours of lubricated conversation, it is none the less, quite compelling. Perhaps one could say it is best appreciated for its authenticity. And then? Ken provides additional details of the remainder of the day with Bacon—a sortie to an Italian restaurant chosen for its convenient location near an entrance to the tube, what the trio ordered for dinner and what was ordered with dinner, the consequences of rich food and ample drink, what the waiter said about that, and Francis Bacon’s response, who paid the bill, who was unable to take the tube, who hailed a cab and paid for that too, who offered the opportunity for a return visit and who acted the role of a perfect gentleman throughout the whole affair. Two remaining questions. Did Ken and Ian return for further enlightenment from Francis? Ken’s answer was simply no, however one might speculate that neither of the two admirers wanted to run the risk of becoming the subject of one of Bacons future endeavours. And finally? Francis Bacon’s sitting room and studio have been photographically documented many times and there is no doubt that we are indeed looking at the artist in his sitting room at 17 Reese Mews, as we can see if we study the background in this classic Cartier-Bresson photo from 1971. http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResu lt&VBID=24PVHKA8OXJN7
Even so, it has occurred to me, that a critical viewer might wonder if the photographer in this case is actually Ken Webb. Although completely convinced of the story myself, it is conceivable that if someone were to discover a similar photo in one of London’s many flea markets or perhaps even while rummaging through the trash outside a certain address, that it would be easy to concoct a credible tale of an invitation to a famous artists studio and to claim that this image documents the occasion. The motive—possibly to enhance one’s reputation with colleagues or with a difficult tutor, or simply to devise an elaborate prank designed to pull the wool over the Therefore, in the hope of setting the record straight with conclusive proof that this is indeed a completely authentic image of Ken Webb producing an early selfie in Francis Bacon’s studio, I have produced an enhanced detail of that portion of the image (Fig. 2) in which it is plain to see…
that the image of the photographer is fragmented, obscure and unfocussed, his face totally hidden by the camera. There is indeed little to go on. But even so, perhaps there is something definite about the hands, the grip on the camera. Is it possible to make out a curious imbalance, as if one hand is a little smaller than the other, as if maybe a single digit is lacking? Unfortunately no. Can’t tell. Too vague. Just have to go on faith. Thanks for the story Ken. 1. Ken Webb 2. Bacon claims he broke the mirror when throwing a crystal ashtray at his lover George 3. Note the reflection of the array of bottles on the table to Bacon’s right. 4. Some of the less satisfactory works had holes cut in the centre of the canvas in an effort to discourage burglary. 5. In 1977 it was entirely reasonable for an art student to carry a 35mm camera at all times.
R E T I R I NG FACULTY
RM 5´ x 8˝ 2003
G A RY O L SO N School of Visual Art, Printmaking Derek Michael Besant RCA School of Fine Arts ACAD I met Gary Olson first through seeing his work in National Drawing and Printmaking exhibitions and catalogues. But it was my wife, Alexandra Haeseker, who started teaching with him when they both helped develop the Fine Arts program at ACAD in the then new facilities in 1973- 1974. Forty years later I’ve served on countless committees, studio redevelopment, academic councils, outreach programs and student experiences along side Gary, who I continue to admire as a friend and faculty member.
It was exciting to have Gary as a colleague because everyone teaching printmaking was also working in the studios on the weekends after hours, and there was great camaraderie amongst the faculty which spilled over to the daily teaching equation to our students. Gary’s passion drawing scaled-up portraits of zoo animals along with his up-close-and-personal shocked faces of friends rendered in black and white compositions morphed into his colour self-portraits wearing masks, devil horns and his countenance smashed up against the invisible picture plane in graphic self-depricating parody and wit. Along side these forays Gary always felt a connection to his family farming roots when he started to render cattle and bulls as the subjective
Don 5´ x 6´ 5˝ 1998
link to his philosophical animalistic side of human nature. Always at the centre of his imaging has been the pleasure of the graphic mark, the jagged line and his ability to construct an image from the medium›s properties effectively, whether it is graphite, charcoal, acrylic paint, intaglio or aquatint. I remember a moment last semester when, looking down into the ACAD etching studio from the observation window on the second floor, I saw Gary with his printmaking class well into the concentration of the group critique. Although I could not hear the discussion, the concentration and body language between Gary and how he motioned his hand over a particular area of a student’s work, was all about revealing properties and aesthetic connections to the
media and subject with an attentive audience. Teaching… Watching that studio full of his students working, with Gary himself in the middle of it all drawing into his latest bull etching plate, underlined to me our inspirational history where our students learn from our example and presence as working artists as their instructors. Gary’s teaching and artistic professional practice have been intertwined for decades now. Those roles define who he is. He has given us part of our past, our present, and ultimately our future, as an Art College identity, carried away in our students when they venture beyond our studios out into the world.
R E T I R I NG FACULTY
Transit of Venus 2014 Porcelain with slips, each from 12 inches high Collection of Michael Bronfman
G R E G PAYC E School of Fine Art, Ceramics Breaking up is hard to do. I will be retiring from my faculty position this spring. I have very mixed feelings about this move. I will sincerely miss my great colleagues and the always awesome students. ACAD has been the focus of my professional life for 27 years. The college has always been very supportive of both my pedagogy and my practice -led research. I could not have gotten as far as I have without a lot of help from the college and the many other institutions and individuals who have helped and supported me along the way. Now that I will have more time to work, I feel I owe it to all these supporters to see how far I can go. I also want to be less stressed and enjoy living in the moment more than I have been. Getting back into the studio full time should help with that. I have always espoused that teaching from my
practice was the best way forward. Now with the new M.F.A on the horizon, I feel that I have been able to contribute to the academic development of the college and will really enjoy watching this amazing new program bloom and flourish. I may still keep my hat in the ring to teach in the program in the future, if they will have me. Meanwhile, I have a very busy and hectic spring and summer preparing for three major exhibitions in August. In Medicine Hat, I will be having a solo exhibition at the Esplanade Gallery. I will be premiering several new works there as well as showing some of the best works from the Gardiner exhibition of 2013. The illustration below is a drawing of a planned new ceramic work for the exhibition, entitled Orrery. The work comprises twenty -four negative
Orrery preparatory drawing 2015 Work will include twenty-four 12 inch high vases
space ceramic vases, which will be animated by having the central section of the plinth rotate slowly. The effect will be similar to what I have been able to achieve with video, but will happen in real time with actual objects. In the same time period, I will be showing a selection of earlier ceramics, some lenticular works and some video at the Yuill Family Galleries at the Medalta site. I plan to seek out some interesting sites in the old factories to project video and to play with and re-contextualize some of these works. I have also been invited to participate in a major international exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Art, entitled Crafted: Objects in Flux in late August. I will be showing two new lenticular works entitled Adam and Eve along with a ceramic work entitled
The Transit of Venus. I have never been to Boston, so will spend a week or so scouring the galleries and museums in the area. The museum is publishing a seminal book on the exhibition, and it should be good fodder for future M.F.A. students After that I have cleared some time and space to work in my studio towards another solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie in April 2017. I also plan to make a trip down to South America to see the Pre-Columbian areas of Peru and Bolivia. This has been a life-long ambition, and I am in the planning stages for that as well as applications for several international residency programs. No rest for the wicked. Greg
This is the latest colour script for the entire film. This image chart is chronological and is concerned with the primary colour design of each section of the film. The film is in nine parts, separated on the chart by thin white vertical bars. The titles of the sections are:
1. Hunting 2. Working 3. Drowning 4. Frozen 5. Journey
6. Demolition 7. Reconstruction 8. Decision 9. Circle
Kevin D. A. Kurytnik Faculty-at-Large Skin for Skin A Work in Progress Some facts about the production: It is a 15 minute animated drama made for the National Film Board of Canada. The objective of the film is to create a contemporary and relevant Canadian myth in animation form. It is a film about transcendence, a dream animation about an aggressive Scottish businessman who, over the course of the film, has his power and even his very being stripped away from him. In the process he is given the chance to change into something greater than himself. Our film is set during the fur trade in 1823 and has at it’s centre a figure loosely based on the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Governor, George Simpson. The title Skin for Skin comes from a conversation between God and Satan in the Book of Job, “And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man has will he give for his life.” More pertinently for this project, the quote is also inscribed on the Hudson’s Bay Company crest as Pro Pelle Cutem, Latin for “A Skin for a Skin”. The reference refers as well to the work of harvesting animal furs. The crest is still in use on merchandise and promotional mater ials to this day. The HBC is the oldest company in the world, incorporated in 1670. Over the centuries, millions upon millions of animals, primarily beavers, were harvested for hats and other fashionable items. The structure and tone of the project comes from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98. Several of the key situations and themes of the poem have been adapted for this production. One major theme of the poem and the film is about being more respectful to nature and the environment. - The style of the film combines ZBrush sculpts, Maya computer graphics, AfterEffects, and hand drawn animation, with a visual style created by aggressive pencil mark illustration. Skin for Skin will be completed in spring of 2016
C harles L ewton-B rain School of Craft + Emerging Media, Jewellery Bench Tricks workshop, Feb 18 – March 12, 2015, École de Joaillerie de Montréal Photo by Serena Sciarrini
F I E L DWO R K : Artistic R esearch , Eth ics and Academic Freedom
The Laboratory of Feminist Pataphysics: Emergency Mobile Unit Transgenetics, mixed-media. 2007-ongoing. Photograph by Dan Cleghorn
M ireille P erron, School of Creative + Critical Studies Laboratory of Feminist Pataphysics (LFP) Emergency Mobile Unit (EMU) Transgenetics “pataphysics ” remains a predominantly male domain. To remedy this evident lack, Perron founded the Laboratory of Feminist Pataphysics or LFP. LFP promotes the reinvention of gendered science through fictive narratives. LFP is world renowned for its Emergency Mobiles Units and Institutes. So far there are five mobile units: Anatomy, Identity, Transgenetics, Incorporation and Toxicology and three Institutes. For FIELDWORK during ACAD Ethics week, Perron stages the Laboratory of Feminist Pataphysics (LFP) Emergency Mobile Unit (EMU) Transgenetics, for which she recently acquired 10 new residents in the shape of radium glass bunnies that glow in the dark under black light.
This EMU is part of 3 EMU dealing with humanity relationship to animals. They explore humanity’s wide range of mixed motives for making animals part of its circle of intimate acquaintances. The gathered “toxic” rabbits like to ponder on humanity’s failure to grasp the distinction between animals as agents of nature and animals as symbols of culture. To enrich the cacophony, rumours and reports of human’s relation with animals, as well as with the fascinating history of radioactive glass, will be exchanged. The EMU can be attended by Perron, or any other volunteer, during the event. Anyone wishing to discuss with the rabbits is welcome to borrow the LFP founder’s lab coat hanging on the wall.
G ord F erguson School of Visual Art, Sculpture University Administration and the Culture of the Classroom I don’t believe it’s news to say there is an ever-growing divide between the administration of post-secondary institutions and the culture of the classroom. Managers of multi-faceted institutions have consolidated themselves into self-contained entities that have continued to grow in size and complexity while tenured faculty, course availability, classroom resources and services to students are diminished. With all the new initiatives being introduced and new personnel being hired one would think the creation of exceptional educational experiences for
students would be the consequence, but all of this is very abstract. Gaining a true understanding of the experiences, ambitions and challenges of today’s student is a very difficult thing to acquire. At the higher levels, the introduction of new programs, fundraising for scholarships and articulation agreements with other institutions affect students’ experience in positive ways, but only if students are in a class they choose to take, if they are in a room where they can hear the professor over all the ambient noise, if they have access to the tools and technology they require to complete the work they undertake, and more importantly if they find
themselves in an inspiring environment where they are taken seriously as adults and their peers, and professors challenge and engage them every day. Part of the problem is due to the way government manages educational institutions, always coming up with new key performance indicators and funding envelopes to force schools to prove their worth and generally treating them like profitdriven corporations. Insurance adjustors and riskassessment specialists demand risk-free environments to ensure everyone is perfectly safe at all times. But institutional administrators respond by trying to control their people with a lot of rules and restrictions and by hiring professional media experts who have experience creating and managing institutional messaging but often have little experience with students and the issues and necessities of learning. Some of this is reasonable, but much of it is not. We at ACAD are continually asked to cut back our budgets based on how little we can survive on, rather than being asked what we need to optimize what we do. It’s a sad situation when university administrators find themselves spending scarce dollars hiring more staff to raise funds to make up the shortfall when provincial budgets are slashed. Teachers and students rely on their leaders to understand the fundamental business of the institution and represent their voices to funders and the taxpaying public. Administrators need to advocate for well-resourced classrooms, properly paid faculty, free and open spaces that foster experimentation and inquiry and they need to privilege and protect these principles. We in Alberta understand all too well that we live in a capitalist consumer society where all things are assigned monetary values and taxpayers are more supportive of those working to promote the market economy than those critiquing it. We also know that it’s tough to lead an institution where graduates are not always easily plugged into awaiting cubicles. Many young students are making a serious decision just by attending art school. To some degree, every student sitting in a first-year class is rejecting the expected stable career track to explore the world of the creative arts, some with the support of their families, many without. When students arrive at art school many wish to be immersed in one of the many genres of the visual arts that await them, or to refine their already well-developed artistic style. But instead, they are challenged to examine their preconceptions, at first by learning basic observation. Once you begin to observe
the world rather than glancing around at things to confirm they are what you think they are, you are beginning to see things in a more critical manner. It’s the point at which you begin to shake off many of your preconceptions and start to see the potential in things. It’s interesting to watch students learn to record what they see instead of what they remember. It’s a matter of giving your full attention to the peculiarities of what you observe, often resulting in a newly discovered way of representing your subject while learning to become more analytical. From an early point students are encouraged to examine things critically to determine their legitimacy. They learn how to use abstraction as a tool, how to think oppositionally, how to build on existing information, how to turn everything into a question and how to be creative. It makes sense, then, that they wish to put their ideas into action rather than producing mere models or proposals. Many students want to activate their work by releasing it into the world and their world includes the institution. They analyze the place and identify its characteristics; its physical and social contexts, its hierarchies and its political potential. They design artworks that question and challenge the status quo of the institution often with surprising and unexpected results. Some might consider postsecondary institutions as artificial environments where students learn how to behave in a professional manner before they are released into the real world, kind of like a garage band purgatory where people stumble and struggle until they get it right. It’s true that students are in the process of learning to become more sophisticated thinkers and makers, and there’s a great deal of development going on, but the environment within the institution is as real as any other situation. People from the CEO to the janitors are going about their business, fulfilling their roles. All of these roles, activities and sites within the institution are available for students to interact within, to inject their ideas, to intervene and question the nature of the place. Many ACAD students over the years have designed artworks that interact with or interfere with the institution and its various agendas. The first of these that’s still alive and well is the graffiti stairwell that was begun in 1973, the year the building opened. The management tried everything in its power to control and eliminate this collective project, including once having it sandblasted from top to bottom. The painting started again the following week. This site
was marked by students as an alternative space, a free space that continues to this day and administrators have long given up trying to control it. Creative experimentation and discovery requires an environment of trust among those in close proximity and throughout the institution in general. In the classroom, students’ most profound secrets and deepest emotions are all up on the wall and everyone’s talking about them in a respectful manner. We’re discussing sexuality, identity, abuse, race, spirituality, gender issues, violence and more. These are liberating moments for young students, as they feel safe addressing these delicate subjects through art. It sounds therapeutic, but once trust is established students can share ideas, try things out and it can all be discussed with objectivity. Imitation and reliance on convention, unsubstantiated content and easy political targets are all challenged to determine their degrees of relevancy. Contrast this with institutional initiatives to develop complex branding programs led by communications specialists. It is generally accepted that this is the standard and necessary strategy to ensure the sustainability of the operation and certainly many reputations are built and sustained by corporate branding; but what about the substance, the content and the practices that supposedly underwrite these claims? Students in the classroom are charged with developing their own individual practices underwritten by their deeply held values and motivations. Branding by its very nature is an aspirational phenomenon where we show ourselves as we would like to be, not an accounting of substantive facts. Of course communicating with the world is critical for institutions and I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised if we see language that is not necessarily in line with the actual situation, like this clip from ACAD’s Institutional Plan; “Studio-based trans-disciplinary degree education will continue to sustain the student education experience by encouraging the interplay of ideas and applied research in visual art and design….” 1 The soft language makes it sound very progressive but does anyone really know what ‘trans-disciplinary’ is referring to and where in the institution it might occur? We’ve got a number of disciplines, but I’m not so sure about the ‘trans’ part. The statement indicates this trans-disciplinary education will ‘sustain’ student experience. Last year we once again reduced course offerings and cut budgets to programs so the
sustenance of student educational experience is in trouble and I’m not sure trans-disciplinary education will be sufficient to protect it. And what about ‘the interplay of ideas’? I suppose if someone from one program discusses an idea with someone from another, this interplay is accomplished, but it is a fact that the programs at ACAD are generally designed to function in a very isolated and linear manner and students who manage to have a trans-disciplinary experience are the exception. Meaningful educational experiences involve exploration and discovery, not just the accumulation of information and subsequent regurgitation. Students in the creative disciplines must look critically at their own set of accumulated values and begin to explore and question their motivations through the projects they undertake. This is a long and difficult path with few blueprints to follow, as each student works to develop their own unique approach. Corporations are rife with hierarchy while classrooms are more democratic. In the classroom, instructors lead and facilitate but also learn with the group while encouraging students to move outside their comfort zones. In today’s classroom students learn to take responsibility for what they produce. Everyone’s opinion is valued and students behave in a generous and respectful manner as they respond and contribute to anything and everything their peers present. The corporate world focuses on the future; keeping your people thinking five or ten years out ensures that present practices are never the subject of analysis but rather are accepted as ‘the way things used to be’. Rather, in the classroom we don’t tolerate much of what you plan to do, but rather we focus our attention by concentrating on what you did, what you accomplished, what you put your mind to, when you took a position and defended it. It’s very puzzling that when we tighten our belts during financial difficulty that we can’t rebuild what we had when things improve. Rather, the post-cut situation becomes recognized as the new baseline and administrators begin to look at other ways to expand or develop the operation, fleshing out the team to ensure every facet of the operation has someone in charge with an assistant or two, more fund-raisers and consultants to help decide what to do next. The course sections that have disappeared, the absence of contract faculty and the aging facilities are not top of mind when determining the ‘go forward strategy’.
Government-funded institutions are always dealing with one financial crisis or another. I was just reading from the ACAD Institutional Plan from 2011 that made mention of how budgets would be affected by the financial downturn. I can’t recall a time when we weren’t struggling with one financial crisis or another. Even in a wealthy province like Alberta, government rhetoric often begins with “In these difficult economic times…” One wonders if this has become a strategy to explain the reason why there’s no point in requesting budget increases. Take, for example, the “Klein cuts” of 1993: they remain in place and have become embedded in the academic environment, just as all the subsequent reductions have—they have become accepted as the new normal. This puts students and faculty in the untenable situation of having to beg for funding to maintain the few remaining academic services allotted to them. While administrative offices are asked what they need to function, we are asked what we can survive without. We have been fighting for years to gain a reasonable contingent of permanent faculty, while it’s difficult to keep track of all the new positions being created in our administrative offices. Administrations appear to have no comprehensive means of understanding the reality of student experience: students attend school, receive grades, aren’t protesting, so the focus remains on cutting back core services to cope with the demands of funders, and the students are left with inadequate resources, reduced choices, demoralized professors and a less than desirable educational experience. So what to do? It’s not just academic institutions that are suffering from market-driven politics, many areas of the public sector are in the same boat. Those charged with leading public institutions must fight for the principles that will sustain and build the quality of our educational systems and they must educate funders who might consider universities only training facilities for the market economy. Rethinking the administrative structure to become
a leaner and flatter model would be a progressive move. Rather than building costly Learning Centres, perhaps we should consider the well-resourced classroom as the ideal Learning Centre. Institutions also need to provide better choices for students so they can construct their own educational experience. It doesn’t cost any additional money to allow students to move laterally through the entirety of the curriculum based on their interests rather than following a prescriptive institutional template.The simplest change, however, would be a paradigm shift in thinking, putting students first in each and every decision. If we read our literature it sounds like we’re all about student-focused education, but if anyone really believes that every decision is really in the best interest of the student, they’re taking their own branding rhetoric a bit too seriously.
Daily Task, Daily forgetting Heather Huston
Heather Huston Constructing a Self Based on the Evidence 2015 30Ë? x 22Ë? Silkscreen
Heat h er Huston School of Visual Art, Printmaking The Body, Stranger My figurative works, currently part of an ongoing series called The Body, Stranger, explore my keen interest in social constructions of illness and the greater narratives employed to understand and define these experiences. The area that exists between science and popular understanding and how we negotiate this territory (i.e. a general perception of cloning based on fictional film or literature vs. the actual applications in research) forms one aspect of my investigation. My own experiences with chronic illness have served as a catalyst for further exploring issues relating to illness and identity in my work. Questions that I am currently researching relate to: shifting identity in the face of changing physical abilities, areas of tension between patient experience/desires and scientific research/protocol and, the ways we define the experience of illness and how that affects patient experience/identity. I am currently selecting aspects of my own narrative
as a starting point and examining the relationship between the illness and the person, looking for ways to discuss illness without being subsumed by the greater umbrella of a diagnosis or to have the experience defined for the patient based on popular understandings/narratives (such as fighting cancer). I am a strong believer in science-based medicine and have long been interested in the parallels between scientific research and artistic research as well as the influence of one practice upon the other. Currently Iâ€™m contextualizing my concepts through the works of writers who reflect on illness and social context, such as Susan Sontag and Anatole Broyard, and responding to the intersections that I find between my own experiences and larger ideas relating to illness and identity in a series of etchings and silkscreens. These works are the result of artistic research from the perspective of a practice-led investigation into medicine, illness and identity.
On the cover: Monica Mercedes Martinez, Softening the Line, 2014. Ceramic performance still. Photo: Mandy Malazdrewich.
Mireille Perron and Grace Nickel, guest editors of Cahiers metiers d’art:Craft Journal
Mireille Perron, School of Critical + Creative Studies The Question of Material and Labour, Mireille Perron and Grace Nickel Messing with Making and Meaning in Current Craft Media, Ruth Chambers
In the Making: Materialization at the Intersection of Craft and Emerging Media, Nicole Burish and Diana Sherlock Aaron Nelson: Connectivity, Mireille Perron Forty Years of Practice: An Interview with Gilbert Poissant, Amy Gogarty
A Conversation on Making and Teaching in a Post-Disciplinary Time, Grace Nickel
Multiplicities and “Singularities”: Leopold L. Foulem and Ceramics at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Paul Mathieu
The Heart of the Matter, Kerri-Lynn Reeves and Jenny Western
Crafting History: The Black Gold Tapestry, Jennifer Salahub
Reflections on Save Nine, Monica Martinez
Philosophical Reflection on “The Invention of Craft”, Jeff Bearce
Fig. 1. Patricia Dawkins. The Mona Lisa Museum of Kitsch, installation view: The Ledge Gallery, EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts, Calgary, Alberta. 2015. Mixed media, variable dimensions. Photo credit: M.N. Hutchinson
Jane M c Quitty School of Critical and Creative Studies But is it Meme-ingful? Patricia Dawkins’s third installation of Mona Lisa reproductions, The Mona Lisa Museum of Kitsch, (fig.1) was exhibited at the Ledge Gallery, EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts December 2014 - February 2015. Smaller versions of the same collection were installed as Monamania (Sugar Cube Gallery, 2011) and as A Cabinet of Curios (Louise Riley branch of Calgary Public Library, 2013). The Ledge Gallery is the biggest site so far and the impact gets better and better –and by better I mean more provoking—with the increase in scale. The Ledge Gallery is essentially a large sealed glass aquarium about the size of a small boutique in a hall way on the way to theatres. It is not the easiest space for visual art to have presence in, but it makes a kind of scalar sense posing as the bedroom of a Mona-Lisa collecting obsessive in which everything including the rug is the vessel of a Mona Lisa reproduction,
parody, manipulation or transformation. Some of the windows are lined with shelves. Viewers peer past them and their stuff into a Mona Lisa-themed bedroom. The bedroom is animated by a young woman, figured by ex-retail clothes mannequin Elle Virago who seems to have just got between her Mona Lisa sheets, wearing her Mona Lisa strapped T-shirt, at her side reading material: a February 8, 1999 New Yorker—from time of the breaking scandal of the extra-marital US presidential affair—with the cover of Monica Lewinski as Mona Lisa. What has the image of the Mona Lisa not been on or used as an analogy for? Well, as this display demonstrates, almost nothing. One of the odder objects is an oversized squeezed tube of toothpaste with Mona Lisa on the label that dispenses toilet paper from the tip. Patti tells me there are Mona Lisa replicas on objects for all budgets, from a 9¢ bead all the way to a $13,000 pool table on eBay. Some of the Mona Lisa’s in the collection have a scratchy, aged celluloid film overlay. Patti thinks these are attempts to make the reproduction look distressed. The larger
the accumulation grows, the bigger the question grows of what the reproduced image of the Mona Lisa signifies, especially when you can wipe your a** with her image. I can’t help thinking that in an even bigger space, including the pool table, the distance between Mona Lisa (1503-1517) as an oil-on-panel portrait in the Louvre and the Mona Lisa as unit of cultural replication will come into even sharper focus. Patti’s interest is in the phenomenon of cultural replication is clear. In a letter/essay to the painting titled “Cher Lisa” , Patti apologizes for not visiting the original in the Louvre while in Paris. She writes: “I don’t know how to say this delicately, but my interest in you is somewhat superficial; it’s based on how others have projected, manipulated and promoted your image worldwide over centuries. Your amazing ability to sustain your image is admirable, but you have become somewhat of a relic of the past. Your unblinking gaze of superiority follows everyone around the room and can be unnerving, to say the least. And that mysterious “smile,” or is it a smile? More a look of amusement, as far as I can see. Perhaps you conceal a secret, or maybe the rumours are true that you require some dental work and are doing your best to hide the fact. At your age, it is nothing to be ashamed of—it is quite common for people of your era.” (Dawkins, P.) In the following paragraph, Patricia mentions coming by a disconnection from history and connection to landscape for geographic reasons, “Cher Lisa, your background is an extension of the long rich tradition of a historical fantasy world. I live on the isolated yet vast Canadian prairies, which can leave me feeling disconnected from history but extremely connected to the landscape. History can weigh down its proponents with the baggage of the past, and although it needs to be recognized and acknowledged, to move forward it must be learned from and then put aside.” (Dawkins, P.) Her dominant connection to nature, if not landscape, was clear in Reflections (Nickle Gallery,
2007) her MFA Graduating Thesis exhibition: among other works, she displayed every spent flower removed from a single hibiscus over a long period time. She displayed the dried spent blooms, but not the plant. In 1206 Memorial Drive (2006) (fig. 2) she displayed the complete collection of every leaf shed by a burr oak one autumn, but not the tree or any reference to the tree. The bigger the Mona Lisa accumulation gets, the clearer it is that it too is an accumulation of approximations of a guiding form, like the leaves, and like the flowers. The more replications there are, the more you can observe how even nonparodic Mona Lisa replications vary. The difference with the collection of botanical replications is, by her own admission, the materials of the Mona Lisa collection offer her little aesthetic pleasure. This is a collection of items that Patti qualifies as “kitschy” and “brassy”(McQuitty.). Here’s the paradox: her most exhibited art practice is the one she is least sure should even count as art, the one she feels has least connection to her identity as an artist or to her ideas of artistic value (McQuitty). The similarity is, the Mona Lisa replications suggest an absent single emitter. Unlike the botanical entities the cultural emitter has not acted alone but had many intermediaries—‘others’—replicating her in many kinds of materials and shades of attitude. Yet human intermediaries tend to duck responsibility for replication, giving the Mona Lisa agency as the cause of the reproduction, as if she were autopoietic, like a plant.. The more stuff there is to see, the more various the forms they take, the more potential observations are captured of the stops on the path of that theorized selfish, living, cultural analogue to the gene, the meme (Dawkins, R. 192). Works Cited Dawkins, Patricia. Cher Lisa. 2007. TS. Collection of Patricia Dawkins, Calgary. Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Google Books. Web. McQuitty, Jane. Personal interview. 12 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 2. Patricia Dawkins. 1206 Memorial Drive, detail: The Little Gallery, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta. 2007. Burr Oak Leaves, variable dimensions. Photo Credit: Patricia Dawkins
Enacting Depth and Surface, KINDRED/SYNTHESIS Series, Digital Inkjet Print, 28 x 36 inches, 2014
T ia Halliday School of Fine Art Under a Paintingâ€™s Skin: New Work by Tia Halliday
My practice is an evolving exploration of the relationship between painting, collage and performance. Representation of the body has been a consistent theme in my work. However I am not interested in the flesh of the idle body, but rather the body as a vehicle to combine disparate materials, methodologies and narratives. I am interested in the possibilities of painting within its contemporary context as an expanded practice; highly informed and informing many means of contemporary inquiry.
The year 2012 marked the emergence of my current body of work titled: Kindred/Synthesis. The work is a series of collages and paintings, which stem from a process-based analysis of how collage, drawing and painting inform each other. This method progressed into an investigation of how more disparate media and methods could form generative questions, such as; how can dance and performance inform painting? How can painting inform animation? How can performance inform Photoshop and two-dimensional collage?
During my participation in the RUD International Artist Residence program in Laxaby Sweden last spring, my work on KINDRED/SYNTHESIS expanded to include the use of performance as a way of deepening my exploration of painting. In Sweden, I engaged upon a series of movement-based performances under a brightly coloured plastic sheet, which mimics the process of creating and looking at painting. The performances were inspired by artist Jessica Stockholder’s use of “skins,” which are synthetic sheeting and plastic mats used within her installations as a painterly pictorial device. When moving under the sheeting I consider: How can I move my body like the way a brush moves across a canvas? How can I create physical shapes and movements that mimic the experience of looking at painting by suggesting flatness and depth? Being under the sheet is like being under the skin of a
painting. The sheet acts as the material marker of my body’s movements just like paint marks the movement of a brush. I document these performances to create photo work, collage, animation, and to inspire largerscale paintings. The synthesis of this documentation is my touchstone for an engagement with abstraction, stemming from investigation of painting and collage without the literal representation of the body. My painting practice is based not only upon an exploration of the formal and contextual complexities of painting’s construction, practice and dissemination, but upon an inquiry into painting from beneath its own skin. Bibliography Art 21. Perf. Jessica Stockholder. PBS, 2005. DVD.
Latent Dream (Growth and Suspension), KINDRED/SYNTHESIS Series, Digital Inkjet Print, 32 x 24 inches, 2014
D o n Kot t m a nn Drawing, School of Fine Art Prohibited Acts
Don passed this list on to us with thoughtful consideration, knowing that we wanted to publish work in this issue of the Newsletter relevant to the FIELDWORK symposium Diana Sherlock organized on Artistic Research, Ethics and Academic Freedom. He has included the list in his
course guidelines for his 3rd and 4th year Drawing majors for decades, the result of a lifetime of teaching at ACAD—and learning what students are capable of do ing. The recent genesis of the performance in his class’s originated with a one minute performance in which he asks each student to introduce themselves to the class. The introduction performance would then be discussed via a video
documentation He noted to me that the list “contains prohibited acts many of which if not all were part of the most memorable, historical, and greatest performances in the history of performance art, The more dangerous, threatening, ethically pushy and or shocking the better for art.” —Ed.
PROHIBITED AC TS IN PERFORM ANCES IN DRAW CLASSES * ING MAJOR 1 NO Incendiar ies [exc
2 NO Explosives !
3 NO Real Wea pons
! 4 NO Smoke or Stink
Bombs! 5 NO Paint or Fo od Throwing! 6 NO Real Drug s or Alcohol! 7 NO Real S an d M! 8 NO Planned Police Interventio n! 9 NO Vomiting! 10 NO Actual Ac
ts of Terrorism or Harassment! 11 NO Involvem ent of Other Classe s in Session! 12 NO Glass Brea kage! 13 NO Excessive Noise! 14 NO Real Anim als! 15 NO Syringes or Needles! 16 NO Body Fluid s or Blood! USE COMMON SENSE! ASK FI RST! ** * I have experie nced each of thes e prohibited acts prohibit them be and now cause they represented an unacceptable ; disruption,threat or danger. ** The student co uld always come and speak with m performance e in advance of a about it’s possib le risks. Kottmann