Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Annual Juried Student Exhibition, Great Work from the Lakehead University Visual Arts Department

Local artists! Be afraid! Yet another crop of young people with skills, ideas, imagination and commitment are beginning their incursions into our community that will shatter the ensconced recalcitrant cliques, batter the old fuddy-duddies, and jiggle the juxtapositions of the obstinate ideologues. We, in this small city with too big an artistic community for its working class britches are in even further trouble. Where some of us protested against egalitarianism to support the belief that funding and attention should go to the best of the best, we now say, "Hold on! Maybe this sharing of finite resources is not a bad thing."
     If you're an artist and you want to see what you’re up against head to the Thunder Bay Art Gallery soon. If you're a collector and lover of art, it's only out of duty that I inform you of the amazing talent ready to explode from the forested encampment for intellectuals found on the hill. 
     The variety of mediums used and subject matter vary dramatically. The quality of the work this year is excellent. There are many pieces worth writing about and many young artists who will likely have solo shows elsewhere very soon if they haven’t already done so. 
     Many of the artists featured also had work at the Urban Infill show hosted by the Definitely Superior Art Gallery. Do check out their current exhibition featuring international artist, Diane Landry whose kinetic works employing common materials is a lot of fun. An annual event is Dr. Bob Chaudhri’s latest additions to his art collection, a good variety of contemporary pieces. And a short art film installation appears in gallery 3 titled, A Game of Chess by Marcel Dzama. 
     To categorize this year's student art is difficult. Influences come from everywhere. Execution, aesthetic style and content are all over the map. Personal preferences on which you judge art should be set aside to take in all that is offered; the students are throwing a lot at you to think about. 
     Many of the students are concerned with an unseen world that needs exposure. A visual subtitle to the entire show is summed up the three paintings on the wall across from the entrance. Lisa Makela’s landscape is a perfect metaphor for all that you will see. And with the concerns come a combination of great drawing skills and imaginative use of the materials. Many of the students do this really well: Lisa Makela, Vanessa Ervin, Amanda Toope, Shaylyn Bishop, Cheyeanne Vanderlind, Katy Poirier, Marielle Orr, Katrin Huerzeler, and Katie Kramer. 
      Many works that make environmental statements, revealing our dependence on behaviours that are harmful to the environment and to our own bodies; Lisa Makela, Vanessa Ervin, Bronte Normand, Mary J Kakekapetum, and Robyn Burns. The problems facing bees is of big concern to young people. 
      Using more symbology and allegory are Bronte Normand, Shelby Gagnon, and Mary McPherson. Political and humorous works: Bronte Normand, Aidan Domenis, and Mary McPherson. Bold imagery of our relationship to nature or a man made environment are featured in works by Violet Cross, Mary McPherson, Robin Faye, Cheyanne Vanderlind, Katy Poirier, and Katie Kramer.
     Introspective psychological works that reflect on the creator’s inner life, dealing with change, appearances, the building up or dragging down of self; Violet Cross, Shayla Hickerson, Vanessa Ervin, Asia Schultz, Rebecca Widdes, Amber Leppanen, Claire Everett, Courtney Davis, and Robyn Burns. 
     You can likely come up with more categories than I’ve listed here to include many of the students I’ve missed. All the works are quite wonderful and worth checking out. Make sure you take the time to take in what are likely to be the first works for a whole crop of new artists to influence the scene in Thunder Bay and beyond. 
    The annual Lakehead University juried exhibition for the students of the Visual Arts Department is on display till April 9. Go quick. Capping this gang with great work are the fourth year graduating students of the visual arts department whose show runs till April 16. The opening reception for them is Friday, April 7 at 7:30 pm. They will be presenting Artist Talks Monday, April 10 from 1 – 4 pm at the Gallery.


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