Monday, April 21, 2008

Surface, Grant MacEwan student show, April 19 - 24, 2008

The two year visual arts program at Grant MacEwan has consistently produced interesting batches of students. Browsing around the main gallery plus the three floors of Grant MacEwan’s Jasper Place campus, I was really quite surprised to see the array of work on display. More concept than formal, mixed media, installation, audio and video, plus the more traditional drawing and painting, were obviously encouraged and explored.

Some highlights included the boldness of Erica Wilk’s various projects, Craig Knox’s “Accumulated Change” and Vanessa Janzen’s pixelated exercise “Hold On,” which within its group assignment, was the only one to fully realize itself as a complete idea between subject matter and execution. There were also projects that initially existed in site specific contexts that I wish were exhibited as such, including Janice Beddard’s “Desperate Measures,” a series of tailored figurines constructed from yards of measuring tape that was situated in the hallway towards the dance studios. Also Karen Cassidy Shaw, who’s ‘Slim Gorge On’s” was a throwback to confectionary indulgences that originally exhibited outside of the school cafeteria.

The use and access of the entire building and its occupants at best breeds a less rigid mentality of what art is and how one makes it. Although there were some devastations like placing live goldfish beneath poles of records, a setup that was far more interesting than the concept and details, and several 2D “canvases” that over and misused objects like balloons and paint brushes, at least experimental was encouraged. Unfortunately, there was no real signs of strong draftsmanship indicated from the still life and painting exercises on display, with an exception to maybe Kari Haddad and Knox.

There is no point in contrasting between Grant MacEwan and the U of A as they are entirely different environments from top to bottom, but as a viewer, the experience of perusing Grant MacEwan’s campus was a far more enjoyable, diverse, and engaging experience than the last BFA show attended at FAB Gallery. The foundational skills may have not compared, but dare I say, the student's conceptual imagination, was far more evident, daring, and original.

3 comments:

Anne Pasek said...

As a MacEwan student it was really interesting to hear an outsider's perspective on the show. I generally agree with the criticism you've given, however I don't think you've taken the nature of the Fine Arts program at MacEwan into account. Unlike the BFA shows at the U of A, MacEwan students only study for two years before creating the grad show. Because of this there is a limited amount of projects and experience on display, which may be reflected on the large amount "over and misused objects" and our somewhat lesser "foundational skills".

Additionally, I am somewhat confused as to your comment on Vanessa Janzen's "Hold On". It is an impressive piece to be sure, and perhaps I am merely stuck on the mentality of the project from which it was assigned, but I did not sense anything lacking in the other technological interface paintings. What criteria were you considering in your analysis?

Thanks for coming to the show!

Vanessa Janzen said...

Thanks for spelling my name wrong. I'm soaking in the first time review. Really all I wanted to do was represent love because I am a hopeless romantic. Plus I usually take on more than I can chew. Lastly...I did want to do something different.

af said...

for vj, my mistake. It's been noted and changed as of april 25.

for ap, I suppose I was drawn to the 'hold on' piece more than the others because of its pixelated nature, that it is an image seemingly created as a representation of a composition blown up and abstracted. matched with its subject matter (I can't remember now, two bodies turning away from each but holding on?) it went farther than some of the other pixelated paintings that didn't appear to take into account why an image would and should be painted as pixel. for lack of a better word, there was a poetic nature of content through form, that I don't think would have been there otherwise, which doesn't hold true for the other b&w pixels.

anyways, thank you both for using your real names and I certainly look forward to seeing future works.