In their graduating exhibition, the BFA class of 2022 highlights the importance of art and being seen
By: Joleen Awad, contributor
From March 31, 2022 to April 29, 2022, McMaster University students will have the opportunity to visit the 2022 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduating class’ art exhibition, located at the McMaster Museum of Art.
Every year, the graduating Studio Art class puts on an exhibition to demonstrate the accumulated skills and knowledge that they’ve gained about art during their undergraduate years. SUMMA means to summarize, which is exactly what this show will do for the students’ education and what they’ve learned.
Sahra Soudi, an artist and community organizer herself, is the curator of this year’s exhibition. Her job is to develop and layout the show so all the artwork fits together cohesively in a way that represents the theme and the museum, giving her an up-close and personal experience with the pieces.
As an introduction to the exhibition, Soudi shared with the Silhouette her curatorial statement for the show.
“Taking space means daring to be bold, seen and heard. The 2022 SUMMA exhibition Taking Space does exactly that,” said Soudi.
Soudi revealed this show will be the first time that many of BFA students have actually been able to visit the museum and art gallery since the beginning of the pandemic, explaining in this way they are physically taking up space there.
“I think that figuratively too, what that means is that it is kind of just being unafraid to be vulnerable and unafraid to show the work that they’ve been pouring a lot of energy and time into,” explained Soudi.
The McMaster SUMMA 2022 account on Instagram began posting photos of the artists’ works back in November 2021, providing a sneak peek into what the exhibition will look like.
The exhibition showcases a variety of art mediums, including abstract pieces, paintings, mixed media, installation pieces and video animation, ensuring there is something for everyone.
The show serves as a way for the students to express themselves as artists, showing the McMaster community what it means to take up space in their own way.
“Something that I really do enjoy about the show is that there is a variety with the mediums that the students chose to use and some of them do relate to each other,” said Soudi.
Soudi believes fellow students should visit their peers’ exhibition as a way to participate and be a part of the artworks’ journey and creation.
“The last two years have been really hard for artists, especially with the students, and not being able to get [any] encouragement or space to be seen,” she explained.
For the Studio Art class of 2022, this exhibition will be their final opportunity to share their voice with others before stepping into the artistic scene outside of McMaster.
By Nisha Gill, Contributor
Tucked away between bakeries and boutiques in Hamilton’s downtown core, Factory Media Centre (228 James St. North) is somewhat isolated from the hustle and bustle. Housed within the artist-run centre, Hamilton-native Natalie Hunter merges photography, video projection and sculpture to create a space to reflect on questions questions of memory, home, time and light.
A collection of photo-based works created over the last four years, “sensations of breathing at the sound of light” is different Hunter’s typical pieces. The artist’s work has been exhibited across Canada and the United States, almost always in well-lit, neutral-coloured spaces, contrary to the conditions that are present in the Factory Media Centre.
“Factory Media’s space is quite cinematic, and it’s a challenging space because it doesn’t have accurate lighting like most white cube gallery spaces. Working with [Factory Media Centre] coordinator Kristina Durka, we decided to work with the darkness of the space and curate works that create light, in addition to reacting with its kinetic qualities,” Hunter explained.
When viewers enter the Factory Media Centre, it is immediately apparent that the space is as much a part of Hunter’s exhibition as are her works. The visible cables and wires, the naturally limited and cinematic lighting and the openness of the space all compliment Hunter’s work. This interaction between the space and the work allows for the viewer to reflect on the work and the influence of memory and home, furthering the incredibly unique and immersive experience that comes with viewing it.
“Allowing a photograph to become a physical encounter rather than a picture on a screen or in a frame. And I think “Sensations of breathing at the sound of light” really questions areas between screen space and physical space, and how they influence memory, the senses, and perceptions of time in the present moment. Stillness and motion can be experienced at the same time,” said Hunter.
Hunter’s pieces themselves are created using a combination of film, colour filters and lights that allow a moment in time to be captured not only as a photograph, but as something physical that interacts with the space around it.
“I think my work is different in terms of my consideration of materiality in image making and hybrid forms of sculpture and photography. Allowing a photograph to become a physical encounter rather than a picture on a screen or in a frame. And I think ‘sensations of breathing at the sound of light’ really questions areas between screen space and physical space, and how they influence memory, the senses, and perceptions of time in the present moment,” said Hunter.
Hunter described the exhibition as a conversation between her and Durka, but also as a space for conversation between herself and the viewers of her exhibition.
“An artist’s job is to provide the conditions for an experience so that a dialogue or conversation can exist between artist and viewer. A conversation that a viewer may draw meaning from or pose further questions, perhaps not immediately, but eventually, through the work. I hope that a viewer is drawn into the work for its visceral and emotive qualities, but keeps them there long enough to contemplate the nature of time, memory, and our relationships to the spaces we create for ourselves,” said Hunter.
“Sensations of breathing at the sound of light” interacts with the space it is housed in to immerse the viewer in the works and encourage them to reflect on important questions about the nature and perceptions of the time, as well as the spaces that we interact with.
The closing reception for “Sensations of breathing at the sound of light” will be on Friday, October 4, 2019 at the Factory Media Centre (228 James St. North) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Hunter will be in attendance.
When I say “journey”, what do you think of? You might think of an expedition into the lush rainforests of the Amazon, or maybe the popular rock band. But what if I told you there was a deeper meaning?
The passage of time can be seen as a journey through history, documenting each detail and every change. Hamilton is known for its history of producing and manufacturing steel, giving it the nickname, “The Hammer”. With the rise of the technological age, steel mills closed down around the city giving rise to other sectors such as arts and culture.
According to Ernest Daetwyler, an Swiss artist based an hour outside of Hamilton, we experience journeys all around us, ranging from our own individual lives to a much grander scale of the world itself.
“Throughout life we go through cycles and there’s a lot of uncertainty,” said Daetwyler.
This thought eventually inspired the beginning of “The Boat Project/everythingwillbefine”.Two years ago, Daetwyler started collecting driftwood that washed up on the shores of the Great Lakes, bringing the pieces home with the intention to create a memoir of their journey.
“[Driftwood] has its own memories. It comes from the forest, the trees, the branches. It’s a natural product. The way it’s grown is very specific to each piece and how its journey has been throughout the turbulent water with the waves, the light, the wind, everything has its history. Every piece of driftwood is different,” said Daetwyler.
Around the same time, Carol Podedworny, the McMaster Museum of Art curator, approached Daetwyler to do a commissioned piece for the garden space located directly in front of the museum, which prompted Daetwyler to start thinking about the city and its history.
“Hamilton is defined by the harbour and its industrial past. Hamilton is a steel town so originally I thought more of doing an industrial art piece — a sunken ship out of steel but then I came up with a more modern concept,” said Daetwyler.
With hundreds of driftwood pieces at home and still thinking about industrial boats, Daetwyler looked to ancient European history to add another layer to his piece. The artist started to develop a concept for a driftwood boat pulling elements from a variety of different ancient naval ships across Europe.
“The driftwood boat is more of a new form of transformation, a new form of journey for a new city that is developing,” said Daetwyler.
Construction on the boat began in Daetwyler’s studio but quickly became much larger than anticipated. The base, comprised of a welded chassis, was made to support the weight of the driftwood beams that would form the underside of the vessel. Smaller pieces of driftwood were then bolted and screwed together to rest on the frame. This completed “The Boat Project” at a final length of 27 feet.
Transporting the vessel was no small task. It had to be brought to McMaster’s campus in on a flat-bed trailer and lifted with a crane so it could finally ‘dock’ at its new home.
As Daetwyler developed and completed the boat, he started to think about how the boat could apply to students at McMaster as well — what was their journey?
“I was thinking more about the idea of venturing into something, the idea of going on a journey — going on a voyage, which is something for the students of McMaster [can relate to] going to university. It’s a big step and journey with risk involved,” said Daetwyler.
The artist reflected on his own past journey, recounting a time when he was in Zurich, Switzerland and how “The Boat Project” gained its second title, “everythingwillbefine”. The first time he saw this second title was on the rooftop of an industrial building, in German as “alles wird gut” in the 90s. Daetwyler was intrigued by this saying, and it stuck with him as a statement that is open to multiple interpretations.
“One student at McMaster told me that she went almost every day to the boat because she understood that ‘everything will be fine’ was a very positive encouragement . . . it can be very much understood in that way as sort of a send off to somebody who is going on a journey and you can say ‘it’s gonna be fine, it’s gonna be okay, you’re gonna be alright’,” said Daetwyler.
The vessel is due to set sail away from the Museum of Art’s Artist Garden in 2020; however, the impact that it has left on some students will last a lifetime.
University is much more than a time to get an education. It one of the biggest journeys that most will go through in their lives. A journey through self-discovery, where you will push yourself outside of your comfort zone and figure out what you truly want from life. “The Boat Project” is a reminder that everyone is going through a journey and in the end, “everything will be fine.”
From April 6 to April 17, the Studio Art program’s 2019 graduates will present the annual SUMMA exhibition. Entitled Counterpoint, the show will be curated by Hamilton textile artist Hitoko Okada. For the first time in over 30 years, the McMaster Museum of Art will not house the show due to its ongoing updates. The exhibition will instead take place at the Cotton Factory.
McMaster Studio Arts is a small program, with the fourth year class consisting of only 19 artists. With instruction on a range of media and a focus on environmentally responsible practices, the program has produced diverse artists who care about the world around them. Counterpoint means “to combine elements” and is fitting considering the amalgamation of their various styles and the balance they try to strike within their individual works.
The graduates organized the exhibition themselves. While it gave them a chance to learn more about the lives of professional artists, it also taught them to work together. Coordinating among 19 people was not easy and after some bumps in the road to find the perfect venue, they are all relieved to see the show finally coming together.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="268" gal_title="Grad Expo - Deeshani"]
Fernando spends a fair amount of time in nature, drawing and photographing the landscape around her. Back in the studio, she takes the colours, textures and lines from the environment to create the emotional and abstract landscape paintings that she’ll be displaying at Counterpoint.
“For me, [Counterpoint is] about… this the balance between the organic and the artificialness in my work… [I]t's taking… different colors… , textures and mark making and creating harmony and balance between all those different things within one image and creating a sort of peacefulness in that work,” Fernando explained.
Throughout the process of organizing the SUMMA show, Fernando learned how to survive as an artist. She feels that she now has an art practice of her own and regards her peers as professional contacts. As she leaves McMaster to pursue teaching, she will take those skills and contacts with her.
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For Lee, Counterpoint refers to the way her class’s wildly different works complement each other. Having spent four years critiquing and supporting one another’s practice, the exhibition represents the harmony between their different themes and materials.
The Korean-Canadian artist explores traditional Korean materials in her work. She portrays these traditional materials in a modern, digital format and then incorporates threading to unite the two ideas.
“I always get confused between Canadian and Korean aspects of myself… [T]his sense of detachment, trying to attach to something or being porous, kind of like a sponge, absorbing a lot of different cultures in order to make up my singular identity. And just like maintenance of this traditional and modern form of art,” Lee said.
Currently aiming to go into interactive design, Lee feels she learned the reality of being an artist. She has been exposed to the business side of the art world by learning to solve problems creatively and produce even without inspiration. The program’s push toward using materials to convey subtle themes has evolved Lee’s art practice.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="272" gal_title="Grad Expo - Sean"]
Cooper didn’t have a lot of purpose behind his art when he entered the studio arts program. Four years later, he feels he is a more deliberate artist and currently explores ideas around memory and coming of age. At Counterpoint, he will be presenting acrylic paintings of Westdale, where he grew up.
“[W]ith my work, I just try and talk about what that experience was like… [D]ifferent places… might not necessarily be important to other people but I guess I have certain memories there,” Cooper said.
The fact that this is the last art gathering of his university career saddens Cooper, but he knows the entire class is proud of the show. Despite the challenges they faced, they demonstrated that they could accomplish anything with collaboration. The different backgrounds and art practices of the class would not seem to mesh, but Cooper feels a nameless common thread unites their work.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="270" gal_title="Grad Expo - Delaney"]
McVeigh believes process and environmentalism brings together her diverse class’ work. A self-identified environmental artist, she explores interactions between living things with one another and with inanimate objects. Having grown up in a small town near Point Pelee National Park, she spent a lot of time in nature growing up.
McVeigh’s work for Counterpoint is a series of photolithographic prints. This long and old process of creating images is meaningful to her. She tries to present her dystopian and nonsensical images in an aesthetically pleasing way with vintage elements.
“I use a lot of vintage imagery in my work… [A]fter World War II… there was the baby boom and they created a very unstable environment where it was a throwaway society. Nothing was fixed, it's all just thrown away… And then it wasn't until the ‘90s when the environment became a very serious topic,” McVeigh explained.
Her work is personal, but the program has made her more comfortable with speaking about her art. By sharing these narratives with her classmates and professors, they all grew close. She anticipates that this graduation show will be bittersweet, but there is a lot from her time at McMaster that she will be taking with her. She learned to critique her own work and reach out for help, which will help her as she pursues a career in sustainable architecture.
After graduating with her Bachelor of Fine Arts with minors in theatre and film studies and music, Conti will be going into teaching. Her teaching program will focus on educational art programming in the community, something that Conti is an advocate for. She is excited about the fact that Counterpoint will bring her program’s work off campus and into the Hamilton community.
Conti will be showing a five-piece installation consisting of floating boxes with deconstructed paintings in them. Her work revolves around her experiences with depression and anxiety to open a dialogue about mental health.
“[S]o for this body of work, there's five different stories to which I'm telling, one of which is the story about my mother's cancer. Normally… they're more negative experiences that I'm trying to understand in a more positive way. So my strokes are colors that are brighter in trying to… accept these experiences and… learn from them but also move forward,” Conti explained.
With her theatrical background, Conti sometimes feels as if she is performing herself. There is vulnerability in her portrayal of her life and she explores privacy versus vulnerability in her work. However, her time at McMaster gave her the confidence to tell her story through theatre, music and art.
The graduation show will open with a reception at the Cotton Factory from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 6. The graduating class looks forward to sharing their work with the Hamilton community.
By: Rya Buckley
Mia Sandhu’s paper cut outs depict images of women partially or entirely nude, amidst backgrounds of leaves or behind curtains. She began working on these figures four years ago as a way of working through her own ideas about women’s sexuality.
Sandhu is a multidisciplinary artist currently based in Toronto. Her work has been exhibited in Toronto, Kingston, Halifax and Hamilton. She is a member of The Assembly gallery here in Hamilton, has done an artist residency at the Cotton Factory and also exhibited her work at Hamilton Artists Inc.
Last November, Sandhu exhibited her collection Soft Kaur at The Assembly, which featured playful figures who are comfortable with their sexuality. The name of the exhibition, which alludes to both to the softness and fierceness of women, incorporates the half Punjabi artist’s cultural background into her work.
“It's the idea [of] a female warrior spirit and the idea of equality that exists… Singh and Kaur are these given names and it was designed to eliminate status and… [create] men and women as equal. And I liked the play on this idea of soft female spirit slash warrior spirit [and] also the sexual undertone,” Sandhu explained.
There are other motifs in Sandhu’s work that suggest a dialogue between Sandhu’s culture and her evolving ideas on sexuality. A lover of Indian fabrics, silks and tapestries, Sandhu includes these aesthetic features in her work through the exotic plants in the environment her figures reside in. With the evolution of her work, she now references more domesticated plants that humans have formed a relationship with.
The silhouettes that are seen in Soft Kaur are also the result of Sandhu’s art’s progression. Her earlier work featured brown-bodied figures because Sandhu felt it more appropriate to use brown bodies in a work related to her upbringing and culture. Over time Sandhu employed more silhouettes in order to represent any woman, regardless of race.
The silhouettes do not broadcast as a uniform but as a canvas onto which women can project their own sexuality and ideas about sexuality. Sandhu is a believer in the fact that no one should decide for a woman how she should be represented sexually in society.
“I want women to be safe and I want them to feel safe and feel free and strong and empowered… [W]e're autonomous [and] each of us should choose for ourselves how we want to be represented sexually or in any other way because we're individuals. Hopefully we're not represented with any sort of attachment to shame. We should just be proud of who we are,” Sandhu said.
Facilitating space for women to speak about their ideas on sexuality was one of Sandhu’s aims behind this body of work. She finds it interesting to observe how her audiences connect with and interpret her art. By enabling dialogue, she finds that women can begin to realize the experiences that they share.
Exhibiting at The Assembly also gave Sandhu a location to speak with others about her work and to receive feedback. One thing that she appreciates about the Hamilton art scene is the sincerity of the participants who she feels are open to talking about important issues and are creating art that is driven by content.
While there is no linear narrative to Sandhu’s work, the content is obviously evolving as Sandhu’s own views develop. One of the motifs whose symbolism has changed over the years is the cloak that Sandhu’s figures have covering and revealing their bodies.
“[The cloak] represents shame, it represents personal space and it represents a number of other things as well… But it's like they're choosing how much of themselves that they're revealing and then as the work evolves, it's like the… cloak… stops being on them directly and starts being like in their space around them and they're allowing you in, or not letting you in,” explained Sandhu.
Through her work, Sandhu is also choosing to what extent she decides to let her audiences in. She is working on a new set of drawings and will continue to explore women’s sexuality and empowerment in the future. Her artwork is her diary, the paper cut outs and pencils replacing the thousands of elusive words that would be required to speak on the complicated ideas that she depicts.
By: Noel Kim
Six-year-old Noel dreamt of becoming an artist while her high-school self was fascinated by science. Which was the true Noel? As it turns out, both were.
I used to wrestle with my seemingly conflicting interests. Science and art were the Romeo and Juliet of education, a forbidden match. I am not alone in my experience of this conflict.
I had the opportunity last year to work with Shira Weiss, the co-founder of the Visualizing Science Exhibition. She explained her motivation for the exhibition: “There were no opportunities at McMaster for science students to engage in an art community and we wanted to create something that brought together both worlds,”
Now in its fourth year, Visualizing Science is an annual exhibition that showcases students’ artwork inspired by research at the university. It’s an exciting step that McMaster students have taken in bridging the gap.
[spacer height="20px"]One of the biggest divides between science and art is the perception that the former is objective while the latter is subjective. It is a lie that science is unbiased, and I am not merely referring to the bureaucracy that permeates the research process. In designing a scientific experiment, scientists choose the lenses through which they will observe the world. In presenting their results, scientists choose the frame that delineates how their findings are applicable to the world. This is necessary, but it is still important that we acknowledge that science also carries bias.
As a science student, I realize the importance of ensuring that research is accurate and honest, that rules are followed and subjects protected. It makes sense then that peer-reviewed science journals are not the appropriate place for emotion. This is exactly why scientists need to be more open to other avenues that can bring the humanity back into their fields.
Thankfully, there is a real movement happening in science to value aesthetic visuals. The science community is beginning to realize that blending art and science is a powerful way to share ideas.
Many scientific publications now require graphical abstracts. Researchers and artists are partnering to develop diagrams and figures. This is only a few of the many collaborations between scientists and artists.
Still, there remains a palpable divide between the realms of art and science. While there are individuals swimming across, what we need is a wide bridge that would become well-travelled, worn, and maintained. In building this bridge, we must begin with examining how science and art are unified.
Sometimes I look up at the night sky in awe and I wonder what makes the stars’ sparkle so brightly. Perhaps this is a view of an artist, searching for a way to depict the night sky on a canvas. Or perhaps I look up from a scientific lens, pondering a way to understand how stars came to be. Scientists, in their purest form, are captivated by a phenomenon in the world. They seek to capture that phenomenon in some communicable way. Is this not also the quest of artists?
Both science and art are predicated on the power of keen observation. Both begin with curiosity and end with communication. Both have the power to include, reveal, equalize. Both are results of the creative mind. When we begin to realize the connections between science and art, we allow ourselves to build those bridges and cross them.
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By Adrienne Klein
The Shifting Ground Lines: Shifting Pluralist Perspectives exhibition explores how cultural backgrounds influence their view of landscapes and use of land through framed depictions of Canadian landscapes, from Carl Ray’s Medicine Bear to Lawren Harris’ Lake and Mountains, hanging on the crisp black walls of the main floor of L.R. Wilson.
[spacer height="20px"]Shifting Ground Lines: Shifting Pluralist Perspectives is an exhibition curated by Brandon Coombs and a production team consisting of Beatrice Hammond, Sienna Suji Kim, Kyle Wyndham-West and Jennifer Yacula of McMaster University. It is composed of twelve photo reproductions of artistic Canadian landscapes and is part of the Socrates Project at McMaster University, which aims to shed light on pressing issues through interdisciplinary approaches.
[spacer height="20px"]The exhibition was originally conceived as part of a project for Art History 4X03 administered by Angela Sheng, an associate professor in the Art History department, where students were tasked with curating a visual exhibit. Beatrice Hammond, who is a fifth-year art history and English major, explained that her group decided to do their project on Canadian landscapes because they wanted to challenge and question popular ideas surrounding the meaning of Canadian art.
“When people think of Canadian landscape their mind automatically goes to the Group of Seven. That’s what we were taught in elementary school. Go to the art gallery, see the Group of Seven, learn it, but we don’t usually get to see that that’s not the only landscape,” explained Hammond.
“That’s not the only representation of landscape or Canadian landscape and there’s so many different representations. [W]e really wanted to shift the narrative… we’re shifting the notion of what is the conventional landscape and shifting away from the settler, colonial ideas of art and…what is beauty and what is landscape.”
The director of the Socrates project, Rina Fraticelli, trusted these students to make the entire exhibit a reality. They were given the upmost independence in the curation process. They picked pieces to include, framed the artwork by hand, marketed the project and were involved in every details from inception of the project to the closing reception.
“There were a lot of components to this and I learned so much about the professional art world through this experience. It was crazy learning how museums and galleries work and how to communicate with them and get results. Like how to get people to give you photo reproductions, how to get them to ship them to you, you know, just working with people,” said Hammond.
[spacer height="20px"]The reception for the exhibit has received a positive response thus far. On Sept. 26, Coombs gave a curatorial talk where he discussed the way that we create artificial boundaries in various areas of society and Hammond enjoyed watching everyone admire the pieces through that lens.
“[We] had Coombs talk about how the art relates to space and how we create artificial boundaries through our provinces and territory lines and how some spaces are delegated to some people while others aren’t so that was kind of cool watching people view the artwork while keeping that in mind,” explained Hammond.
Only a few of pieces from their original virtual exhibition were able to be secured, but the intent remained the same; to have equal representation for Indigenous and non-Indigenous art. The entire process shows the value of experiential education both for people leading the project and those able to appreciate the end results.
The exhibit can be viewed in L.R. Wilson up until Oct. 19, when there will be a final reception for the exhibit. People will have the opportunity to hear from the students who put the exhibit together and discuss it with them.