Students of the Lakehead University Fine Arts program are showing their talents at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery till the end of this month, beginning with what will be a packed opening tomorrow night at 7:30pm. Your trek through the snow will be worthwhile as the Annual Juried and Major Exhibition features competent and deftly created works of art. What also makes this show outstanding is the humour, much of it daring to make a point, with strong imagery reflecting a keen interest in wanting to change our ways and opinions, one major function of art.
This exhibition features dozens of artists working in a variety of styles, hitting on various themes. A few students used cows as a means of making statements, so cow puns could be used to describe this udderly great show, however it’s best to get your kicks by seeing the work rather than reading about it. Unfortunately there are so many young artists, they can’t all be covered, although they are all worthy.
There are more than a few very good portrait works reflecting the artists desire to be thoughtful towards the person depicted, and as a means of making a statement. Brittany Kennedy in her portraits seeks to bring recognition and honour to the working class by depicting people we are likely to know in the community. Vicki Lundmark’s painting, His Shirt, brilliantly suggests loss and emotional upheaval with unusual and striking imagery, and again makes a statement using a grinning female skeleton as she dresses herself with flesh. Vanessa Herbert distorts her face in images as a means of searching for identity. Michelle C. Kivi cleverly uses paint on her sculptural piece to split a face so it plays with your eyes as you walk back and forth in front of it. Kristin Jorgenson painted a wonderful little portrait of Charlie, capturing his age and weather-beaten face with fine detail. Kathleen Murray pulls off a stunning self-portrait that she should enter into the Kingston Prize competition.
The sculptures are likely to generate the most discussion. Gayle Buzzi’s ceramic fox really does look neglected and needs a home. Katie Lemieux’s rabbit, titled, Rabbid, is unnervingly human. Lassel Pohjalainen put a lot of work into the large wood sculpture, Got the Whole World, complete with a ball that turns slowly in the giant wooden hand. Danielle Montgomery’s, Original Cheeseburger, will make you laugh, and might turn children into vegetarians. And even more cows are depicted when they walk the plank in Danielle’s, Industrial Cows. Katie Lemieux contributes to the related cow themes with an untitled ceramic work where breasts and udders are exchanged. This piece is begging for a title.
There are lots of little surprises too. Piper Vezina’s, Cloud Scape, is a very lovely little landscape making one wish winter would go away. Samantha Armstrong goes for the gothic and references, The Nightmare, by Henri Fuseli, in her small and spooky digital drawing. Bigger surprises are the variety of clever abstract and surreal pieces interspersed throughout the show that have more cerebral goals with personal and aesthetic statements.
What is wonderful about this show is the exciting possibilities that these students present as contributors to the arts communities in which they will eventually take part. One can hope that many of them will find Thunder Bay worthy of contribution.