Saturday, January 26, 2008

Re-Drawing the Line, Art Gallery of Alberta, January 19 - February 17, 2008, by Guest Artster Ted Kerr

Joan Greer and Helen Gerritzen from the University of Alberta’s Department of Art & Design have for the third year in a row curated an exhibit consisting of work from Artists residing in the U of A’s Graduate Studios. The exhibit as a whole aims to highlight “the innovation and diversity of contemporary drawing and related design practices.”

Running the gamut of mediums from Caitlin Wells’s video installation, "Time Line" to Eric Steenbergen’s etching, "2’ Mantras," all seemingly respond to the question, "What does 'line' mean to you?"

Scott Cumberland’s "Carnival," a collection of colorful, rounded blob forms seem to dare the viewer to remember that lines do not have to be straight. A similar theme is explored in Elaine Wannechko’s movement filled photograph “Drips in a Cracked Wall." Both explore line as it relates to chaos and control.

Maria Z Madacky’s meticulously created "Listen" offers through her craftsmanship of taught parallels the idea that line is essentially about creating order. Leslie Robinson’s "Instructions for tying ties" which includes instructions sheets complete with color coded diagrams, a mirror and a selection of black ties allows, one to come to the same conclusion, but this time it is up to you to do the work.

As a product of drawing attention to the various forms that line can take, Greer and Gerritzen invite the viewer to see how “line” exists all around us, first in the gallery itself and then beyond in the world at large. Suddenly the river of cracks in the old Bay building floor seem ripe for contemplation as do the white weedy cords that take up the space between the electrical outlet and bottom of Andrea Pinheiro’s light box installation, "Not so much the things."

And Pinheiro is right. As successful as the collected work is in examining line, it is not so much the things on display that are exciting as are the processes that led to their creation.

Pinheiro’s work is as much about the exquisite moments she captured on film as it is about the “marks created during the development”. The small yet transportive moments embedded in the 6x6x4 LED boxes; crossing the Atlantic, finding a clearing in the woods, are for me emblematic of those that almost pass you by before you pause, realize the beauty and vow to never forget them. By layering these experiences with the moment of development the viewer is brought in to witness not only the physical lines of the work but also to relate line in reference to time and thought.

The colorful and evocative, “Still Life” a mixed media piece by Gillian Willans was for me the most refreshing moment of the exhibit. Planted deeply in un-precious narrative, the 24” by 32 1/4'’ image unleashes the viewer away from the considerations of line and places them in a fluid world that could be as easily inhabited by a sleeping grunge princess as with a dead witch.

Re-drawing the line takes viewers to a point. It is a formal show in an established gallery with well thought–out work by talented artists, curated by intelligent people and as the case with lines--can only go so far.

As Antoni Gaudi said, “The straight line belongs to man, the curve to God”. Upon leaving the gallery, thanks to the comprehensive exhibit, one is more aware of the line based, designed world we live in and left with an almost insatiable craving for curve.

Re-Drawing the line
Works from the University of Alberta Graduate Studios
Art Gallery of Alberta
19 January to 17 February, 2008

Ted Kerr is the first Artster Co-orespondent to contribute to the growth of Prairie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found this show disjointed and weak. Furthermore if you are going to call a show "re-drawing the Line" on might think because it is so close to the seminal exhibition "Drawing teh Line" by feminist collective Kiss and Tell you might want to include something of a feminist approach to the work - shame on Greer & Gerritzen for their lack of awareness of contemporary Canadian Art.

Also what is up with the AGA in showing student work so clearly without any form of curritorial focus or content.Exactly where is the artistic direction from Crowston and/or Miller?