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Slide Room Gallery


June 4-26, 2016

DIVERGENT PROCESSES Exhibition of work 2017 Diploma of Fine Arts graduates at the Vancouver Island School of Art

Jane Coombe Karima Heredia Galvan June Higgins Kim Leslie James Mulchinock Chantelle Parent

DIVERGENT PROCESSES is an exhibition of the graduate students from the 2017 Diploma of Fine Arts program at the Vancouver Island School of Art. The title draws attention to the thread that unifies these very divergent works: the predominant role process plays in all of the artists’ practices. Jane Coombe has developed a series of installations that are composed of arrangements of singular works of art. She combines individual parts to create a unified whole with a focus on the colour blue, Constructivism and Early Modern Abstraction. Her works are ever-evolving and changing depending on the arrangement of the day.

Karima Heredia’s final work resulted in a three-sided aluminum foil structure. The piece was originally a flat “wall” mural whose subject is her studio partners in different poses with an animal head of their choice standing in place of their own heads. Foil, a simple household material become transformed into a surface containing a multitude of textures, reflections and light contrasts.

June Higgins makes intricate paintings that include ornamental patterns sourced from a range of historical architectural structures. Familiar designs collide and overlap and create the sense that they are of a particular place; and yet this place only exists in the imagination of the artist and the viewer. Higgins’ landscapes are places where the world and the imagination connect.

Kimberley Leslie investigates the idea of aging women as invisible members of society. Her figures are often put in architectural settings; buildings that also might be in a state of neglect or disrepair. Her work also includes an installation where hanging fabric bags stand in for the women, and diagonal string structures represent an uneasy and perhaps unstable architecture. Jim Mulchinock works with multiples of objects that he gathers, sorts and arranges through laborious processes involving cutting, gluing and weaving. He uses easily-available materials such as driftwood sticks and wire dry cleaner hangers and transforms them into unified fields that exist between painting and sculpture.

Chantelle Parent takes throw-away materials such as rusted metal and wood and transforms their surfaces by wrapping in velvet or by applying paint. She always leaves some of the original raw surface as part of the finished work. Most of Parent’s individual pieces provide satisfaction on their own, but are also dynamically activated by being part of a grouping or a larger installation.

Wendy Welch Executive Director Vancouver Island School of Art

Jane Coomb Poetry is Pure White (detail) (aluminum, Plexiglas, acrylic, canvas, steel, mylar, aluminum tape, lightbox and ink)

Jane Coombe by Michelle A. Ford Construction, materials and space are integral to Jane Coombe’s artistic practice. With strong foundations in early 20th century Modernism, she is informed by movements such as Constructivism, the Bauhaus, and Abstraction-Création. Often based on architecture and construction components, Coombe’s’ work has evolved from one of movement within the fragmented landscape, into one of stillness and illusion within a more edited, abstracted environment. Through the process of arrangement she explores the relationship between form and space, with attention to formal aspects such as line, as well as to the mystical possibilities of her constructions. The most prominent feature in Coombe’s is a monochromatic palette, notably, the colour blue. Her limited colour choice is striking for its vibrancy and simplicity, setting the stage for her the diversity of her materials. The use of blue draws attention to the complimentary and contrasting brown colour of cardboard, and highlights the silver-grey of reflective metal and lucency of the Plexiglas. Her industrial designs highlight the inherent qualities of the materials and the strict lines they create. A frame is created by straight edged cardboard, as in Shattered View. Resting at an angle on a metal ledge, four window panes overlook a fractured, deep blue world of Mylar and canvas. The recycled and the industrial play off each other in layered, abstract constructions that reveal an affection for Constructivism, the Bauhaus and the Abstraction-Création of Auguste Herbin. Around 1915, Constructivist artists became interested in the possibilities of materials in the construction of art. They investigated the formal aspects of materials such as metal, plastic, glass and wood by creating work that addressed the space between sculpture and architecture (1). Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953) made a series of Relief Constructions from industrial materials, assembled and installed with consideration to architecture, such as the corner of a room. Founded in Germany in 1919, the Bauhaus mandate was to explore the relationship between fine art, design and industrial techniques. In uniting applied art with painting and sculpture, the Bauhaus sought to raise the status of craftsmanship, in turn bringing soul back into construction and design (2). Informed by Cubism and non-figurative art,

Auguste Herbin (1882-1960) was a founder of Abstraction-Création in 1930’s Paris (3). The group’s desire was to promote pure painting and a spirituL form of creativity through concrete (abstract) art where “nothing is more concrete than a line, a colour, a surface.”(4) Coombe’s Blue Twilight (embodies ideas from these practices: a sculptural work that is installed on the floor and dependent on the wall for support, it is crafted from industrial materials while honouring non-figurative form, painting and Coombe’s unique artistic vision. While using everyday materials of industry reworked and composed into an abstracted world of layers and stringent lines, the artist has created a poetic environment of solitude and stillness. Blue has long been symbolic of tranquility, wisdom, depth and vast expanses of sea, sky and the heavens. Specific is Coombe’s choice to use International Klein Blue, created by the French artist, Yves Klein (1928-62) (5). Painting his “monochromes” with only this blue, he suggested that monochromatic painting could evoke a metaphysical state and imbue art with the illusion of infinite space (6). In addition to the limited palette, the poetry of Pablo Neruda (1904-73) inspires a sense of lyricism and romanticism for Coombe, transforming the formal aspects of her work into a spiritual one. Referencing Blue in the Morning and In Praise of Ironing, she states that “poetry gives life to work”. Deep Blue Eternity is one of her most metaphysical works where a window into the deep blue eternity creates a space of deafening silence; an arena for communication with the Self. By looking outward at this work, one is compelled to look inward. Coombe merges ideas born out of the informative early decades of 20th century Modernism with her artistic practice of the 21st century. Using industrial materials and imagination, she investigates form and space through construction. Her processes lead to a transformation which occurs through arranging and rearranging until achieving what she feels is “a distilling down to the pure aesthetic essence of the work”. Notes 1. Chilvers, Ian. Oxford Dictionary of Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 166-7, 690. 2. Chilvers, 58-9. 3. Tate. “Tate: Abstraction-Creation”. London. Web. May 13, 2017. 4. Selz, Peter, Kristine Stiles. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: Geometric Abstraction. Oakland, Ca: University of California Press, 1996. 63-4. 5. Chilvers, 380. 6. Selz, Stiles, 65.

Jane Coombe Blue in the Morning “Field Notes� (shelving, aluminum, paper, acrylic, acetate, lightbox, tape and ink)

Karima Heredia Primitive Mining (aluminum foil, glue and Donna Conna board)

Karima Heredia by June Higgins Karima Heredia’s mural overwhelms the visual senses with its large scale and challenging material. The shiny aluminum foil, a common household item, is treated with varying textures: crumpled for the background, and flat, folded or diamond-patterned for the figures. The figures are life-sized depictions of her classmates, created by tracing their shadow as they struck a pose while being brightly lit. The head of each is the animal that each person chose to be identified with. This work continues Heredia’s interest in the subconscious; the “shadow” self as she puts it. These figures are no longer shadows, they are the opposite; brought blazingly into the light of day, almost too bright to be viewed. The foil acts as a reflective surface, metaphorically and literally, making the viewer part of the work as they see their own distorted reflection, causing them to consider what shadow-self lives within. Of Mexican descent, Heredia is following a tradition of mural-making. Brightly coloured Mexican murals show people doing different types of activity: working, marching, celebrating, or struggling. It is interesting to contrast Heredia’s mural with these. She used no colour other than that reflected, and the activity of her figures is unclear. Are they together by plan or by chance? One of the underpinnings of Mexican murals following the revolution was that art should be public and affordable. In this same tradition, Heredia deliberately uses a material that has very little cost. I am reminded of the figures in Matisse’s La Danse, a small group of naked dancers holding hands, dancing with vigor and energy in a circle. In Heredia’s work, the gleaming figures are caught in a moment as if in a camera’s flash; some standing still and others moving. The energy is provided by the demanding material, glaring and shimmering in the light. There is no depth, no perspective, only form and texture unveiling the interior workings of the inner mind. Heredia has previously explored this theme in her collaged creatures and paintings. Recalling the characters of Alice in Wonderland, each had a distinct personality: nervous, threatening, or diffident; provoking feelings of incredulity and caution. At times, their narrative was confrontational. Made of bits and pieces, they seem ready to enter the gallery space or

fly apart in my face. In both the collages and the foil mural the artist is documenting an alien place, where societal norms do not apply. Heredia uses foil again in a video work as a therapeutic representation of mastery over the invasion of cancer. In this piece, small pieces of foil covered with a made-up language in black and white symbols are massed up one upon another. The accumulation is crumpled into a compact ball that is tossed away, signifying the ejection of an unwanted tumour. The intuitive symbology Heredia uses evokes feelings of displacement, suspension, and separateness, while drawing me in with her unlikely blend of disparate parts. She mines the emotional landscape to produce each collage and foil figure. By bringing shadow selves to light, she uncovers the need for acceptance. As Finnish fantasy writer Jyrki Vainonen said, “Dive again and again into the river of uncertainty. Create in the dark, only then can you recognize the light.�

Karima Heredia Aldebaran/Sirius/Deneb (found collage papers), detail

June Higgins by James Mulchinock “A forest of thorns shall be his tomb, borne through the skies on a fog of doom!” Maleficent in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959) When one first views June Higgins’s Descarga or even Ataraxia, one can be forgiven for recalling Walt Disney’s 1959 animated adaptation of Charles Perrault’s original fairy tale involving a handsome prince, beautiful princess and of course, the forces of evil. In the climatic scene, the evil fairy Maleficent, whose only sin incidentally, seems to be motivated by not being invited to the infant princess’s godmothers’ party, attempts to block the handsome Prince Philip on his rescue mission with a thick, impenetrable forest of thorns and brambles. The evil fairy fails of course, but Disney’s portrayal of the chaotic wall of prickly under-story she

June Higgins Descarga (acrylic on canvas)

June Higgins Mordant (top), Cadence (bottom) (acrylic on canvas)

summoned was both physically and psychologically intimidating for the six year old movie goer I was at the time. In Descarga, (part of her larger Ornare loci series) Higgins has similarly and meticulously layered a thick wall of what appears to be fragments and segments of ornate and decorative surfaces. These chunks appear to be ripped out of finished surfaces from somewhere else. The edges are delicate yet almost razor sharp and unfriendly to the touch. They fill the entire canvas and dictate the overall composition. These sharp, ragged pieces and chunks of ornamentation grow into the entire canvas like a spell cast by something otherworldly. Layer after layer, some almost ethereal, gives Descarga a certain impenetrable depth. Higgins has closed any gaps with tiny amorphous shapes and doodles that thwart an attempt to see to the other side. Even the colour scheme is disturbing: the vivid forest greens interspersed with magenta-like swirls creates a dissonant aural template reminiscent of a free form jazz session. There is nothing warm and soothing about Descarga. But at the same time, one can’t look away. The decorative pattern seems familiar, but actually it is not. Higgins has distressed and distorted the fragments in her own style of re-embellishment. One believes there is a path through the thicket, but there is none, There is no way through. One recalls something about the minute shapes and pointy things populating the canvas, but then one can’t quite place them. It is a psychological contrast between attraction and almost nightmarish discomfort. It attracts and it repels. Higgins intends the piece to challenge the viewer’s interpretation of decoration. The decorations “are chaotic rather than precious, disconcerting rather than enticing,” writes Higgins in her artist statement. Higgins began this similar approach to painting, albeit with different themes, with her 2009 Prodigiosum series followed by her Wondertale series. Higgins fills her canvas with a visual paella of small shapes, all different, mostly fanciful and even delightful. In both these series, I imagine Higgins as a world-famous chef of improvisational jambalayas and soupa de pescados. The ingredients fill the bubbling stew pot and each looks different and delicious. Where they take you after that is up to the viewer. These earlier series conjure up child-like fantasies and quirky dreamscapes.

With Ornare loci, Higgins has followed a similar methodology. She has used an ingredient list of smaller fragments and shapes to fill the canvas and guide her composition. But her exploration into the world of architectural decoration and her relentless approach to transforming each fragment has taken her, by comparison, towards something more sinister and disturbing. Beware all handsome princes.

June Higgins, Petrarch (acrylic on canvas)

Kimberley Leslie by Chantelle Parent The feeling of age and decay are evident in Kimberley Leslie's work. Her scumbling and rough application of oil paint reflects the feeling of time passing and withering. She chose to create strong architecture in some areas, while letting it dissolve into voids in others. This gives the viewers a glimpse of the hellish prisons she has created for her figures to be trapped in. The relationship between figures and architecture is a vital part of Leslie’s work. While the spaces created are sturdy, her figures seem to shrink back, fading away at the edges and becoming enveloped into their surroundings. Leslie’s surface choice of transparent textiles applied in layers offers meaning to her work. The textile is reminiscent of a bandage material that is used to conceal a wound. Leslie applies oil and graphite directly onto the board under this material. In addition she adds accents of oil on the surface, this implies the passing of time and gives the image depth while continuing to be flat. By layering, Leslie creates a fog, similar to the fog her figures might be experiencing in their age or disability.

Kimberley Leslie Left: Ghosts of Hope Remembered (oil, wax, cotton gauze on board) Right: Presence of Absence (dental floss, wire mesh, wood, cotton gauze, thread)

The careful application of graphite and oil paint speak to the invisibility of Leslie's figures. Easy to pass over or forget as they seem to be disintegrating before our eyes. Her figures hunch over as if they have to carry around a tremendous weight. They are non-confrontational, in many of Leslie's work you have to search the painting to discover the figure. She suggests that if we ignore or forget these people it is easy for them to disappear entirely. Her installation work creates an area for you to physically experience the architectural prison Leslie created in her paintings. A series of ghostly architectural lines that seem to disappear, reappear and shimmer. The bags interwoven seemly trapped stand in for figures, they are reduced to something so lightweight and insignificant. This work invites the viewer into the reality of the characters she is representing, the ones we have so easily forgotten or ignored. The paintings in addition to the installation leaves the viewer to walk away from Leslie’s work faced with the eerie idea of their own impending mortality.

Kimberley Leslie Ghosts of Hope Remembered (oil, wax, cotton gauze on board), detail

Kimberley Leslie Presence of Absence (dental floss, wire mesh, wood, cotton gauze, thread)

James Mulchinock A Guide to the Trees of the Mendocino Fracture Zone (beach sticks and stain on plywood) Right: detail

James Mulchinock by Wendy Welch James Mulchinock takes a childhood passion for collecting and makes it an integral part of his art practice. His art involves the daily tasks of collecting, arranging and transforming easily accessible objects such as driftwood and coat hangers. His aesthetic gravitates to objects that are both ubiquitous and unremarkable and that go unnoticed by many. Mulchinock’s’ process begins with the day-to-day gathering and collecting of his materials. For example, to complete his recent work, A Guide to the Trees of the Mendocino Fracture Zone, he made dozens of trips to the beach to return with shopping bags filled with driftwood or “beach sticks” as he likes to call them. These sticks are then brought to the studio and sorted by suitability (using a criteria only known to the artist), and then by size and shape. A uniformity is introduced to these irregular sticks by sawing off one end to create a flat surface. The sticks become transformed from random beach objects to art materials ready to be attached to a specifically prepared substrate. The resulting work is an intense, densely filled surface that oscillates from being seen as microscopic such as that of cellular structures, to macroscopic as being components of a solar system. The piece in the gallery has been installed to appear as if it is part of the wall, as if these individual units are growing from the wall. The black wall and black plywood surface of the work have become one.

Catalogue of Better Homes is made from 100s of hangers that have been twisted and pulled through a metal grid; an aggressive sort of macro needlework. The piece represents a struggle as one imagines the difficulty of working with coat hangers (everyone has the experience of trying to use the coat hanger as tool for something else –plumbing, locked car doors, etc.) Mulchinock has made this unforgiving wire look delicate especially in terms of how it is installed. You can see the gestural marks of the wire create shadows that are light and graceful. Mulchinock takes a series of individual components to make a whole; and then develops this further by creating a relationship of the work to its surroundings either by painting the wall around the piece or making the shadows on the wall part of the work. The materials are transformed but not disguised. Mulchinock uses the familiar to create a state of unexpected wonder.

James Mulchinock, Catalogue of Better Homes (wire coat hangers and metal mesh screen)

Chantelle Parent by Debora Gloeckler Chantelle Parent’s textile sculptures elevate discarded objects into distinguished items of value and beauty. Interested in the allure of manmade objects eroded by nature, she is a collector of decomposing metal and disintegrating mechanical parts. With craftsmanship that brings to mind the “19C haute couture,” French dressmakers, Parent meticulously hand-stitches the corroded debris into tightly fitted sheathes of luxurious, high quality materials. Partially shrouded in the richness of velvet, a rusted bicycle chain conveys the esteem of a string of precious stones and a corroded cage takes on the stature of exquisitely tufted furniture. Sumptuous, violet velour oozes like dark molasses from cracks in a rotting gas canister encrusted with residue. Her restorative treatment of adorning heavy, metal castoffs with soft, elegant fabric dissociates the disintegrating materials from their original function and creates tension

Chantelle Parent, ReExamined (various metals, velvet, constructed table)

between attractive and repulsive qualities. She revives objects once abandoned for their lack of usefulness with new aesthetic value allowing their shape, form and texture to be their worth. Parent seamlessly integrates the contrasting materials together creating curious, magnificent artifacts of the contemporary world. Parent’s background in fashion merchandising informs her work and has led her to use textile as medium. She takes inspiration from contemporary artist, Fred Wilson, who juxtaposes and re-contextualizes existing objects to alter their traditional meaning. Often working with museum collections, Wilson creates unconventional displays that reconstruct social and historical narratives and raise critical questions about erasure and inclusion. Through her choice of materials, Parent changes the status of second-hand objects simply by the dressing them in high quality cloth. By fusing both high and low material into a single object she distinguishes each, but at the same time, shifts our associations to give objects new meaning. In the same way, Parent constructed Decadence and Decay, a large textile collage, from outdated, second-hand fabrics that have associations with domestic space. Familiar patterns reminiscent of the worn upholstery on “grandfather’s chair” or the “special occasion” tablecloth are individually sewn over old book covers. She juxtaposes rustic burlap with royal, red velvet and soiled muslin with slick, metallic synthetic. Parent combines the diverse quality materials by methodically hemming the thrift-store remnants into a grid-like form. With the rigor of a high modernist sensibility, the geometric structure contrasts the “make-do” aesthetic of her medium. Her thoughtful composition negates the hierarchy of materials changing our perceptions and transforming discarded, forgotten scraps into an intricate tapestry that reads as a sophisticated painting. Parent’s textile-based works breathe new life into material possessions abandoned in our consumer culture for lacking functional or aesthetic value. She lifts discarded objects back into our awareness using an overlooked medium historically associated with craft and domestic life. Presenting found materials in unexpected combinations, she alters the interpretation of well-known items, asks us to examine our relationship with material objects and question how we understand beauty.

Chantelle Parent ReMades (wood remnants, acrylic paint)

Acknowledgments We would like to thank and acknowledge the following people: The Diploma of Fine Art students: Jane Coombe, Karima Heredia, June Higgins, Kimberley Leslie, James Mulchinock and Chantelle Parent for their hard work, focus and imaginations. Curatorial Studies students: Colette Baty, Michelle Ford, Debra Gloeckler, June Higgins, James Mulchinock and Chantelle Parent for the essays in this catalogue. Neil McClelland who mentored Jane Coombe and Kimberley Leslie Wendy Welch who mentored Karima Heredia, Chantelle Parent, June Higgins and Jim Mulchinock. Neil McClelland and Xane St Phillip for participating in the adjudication process. Amanda Dodds, our lovely office manager, who helped with the labeling and organizing of the exhibition. Natasha van Netten, our Media Coordinator who made the poster and was responsible for the promotion. And all the community supporters, volunteers, faculty and students who make the Vancouver Island School of Art and Slide Room Gallery an important part of the Victoria community. Photo credits: June Higgins, James Mulchinock and Natasha van Netten All work in catalogue was completed in 2017.

SLIDE ROOM GALLERY 2549 Quadra Street, Victoria, BC V8T 4E1 250.380.3500 info@slideroomgallery.com www.slideroomgallery.com

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Divergent processes catalogue  

Exhibition catalogue of the 2017 Diploma of Fine Arts graduates: Jane Coombe, Karima Herdia Galvan, June Higgins, Kim Leslie, James Mulchino...

Divergent processes catalogue  

Exhibition catalogue of the 2017 Diploma of Fine Arts graduates: Jane Coombe, Karima Herdia Galvan, June Higgins, Kim Leslie, James Mulchino...