As a gay relic from the 1980s, I am interested in the changing faces of gay male culture. I have watched my cohort of friends come out and die. I have worked through that lens all of my life. I have currently completed a body of research and exploration on vertical colonialism (the act of taking over a culture through the subtle means of appropriation and reinterpretation) by examining the continual appropriation of gay roles by straight actors and the consequences of such actions. In my research I am going to address the word ‘Queer’ and it’s inappropriate use by both cultural theorists and parts of the LGBT community. This word is a slur and yet unlike any other derogatory word, people seem to feel that the word, ‘Queer’ is appropriate to use, no matter how much pain it causes to groups of people. This word, along with the word ‘Cis’, have become tools to re-enact the history of gay male oppression. These words are the words of the hegemony, and those who wish to be part of it, used to create acceptable and understandable binaries and to prune off unacceptable cultures, cultural practices and to facilitate the absorption of those willing to adhere. I hope my work will spur on other oppressed groups to question their own destinies.
“Locating ourselves is a remembering process…Location establishes connection through memory. When we locate, we search through our memory banks and retrieve information about who we are, where we come from and our roots. (Absolon & Willett, “Putting Ourselves Forward” 115)”. On a visit to my Auntie Betty’s home, she gave me a red rose tea tin with the family negatives. The act of re-looking at family photographs begins my work of decolonizing narratives about home. Re-membering, as Absolon and Willet describe, encourages me to think about the capacity of how photographs and stories can point towards non-Indigenous responsibility, locating ourselves in relationship to Indigenous narratives, and creating anticolonial alternatives as we navigate shared pathways.I am an outsider, a settler media-artist and mother from amiskwacîwâskahikan. I make meaning through collaboration and create photographic and video installations, books and postcards that speak to identity, home and the memory-site. I am of Scottish and English descent and the last four generations of my family lived in Lone Rock/Lloydminster, SK, an unfamiliar place to me. Visiting and listening to my Auntie’s stories of these photographs begins to establish relationships between the matrilineal line (Reynolds) of my family and Lone Rock, SK, during 1881-1962. For my MFA thesis, I am creating a photo-media installation that locates my relationship to family stories, unsettles local (settler) images and archives from the Lloydminster / Nunebor district, and re-frames “pioneering” narratives with Other-wise narratives in Treaty 6 Territory.
The crack of the back, the weary sigh of tired limbs as they shift and grind into position, the sinewy snap of muscle stricken between malformed bone and flesh. Disability and chronic pain are a daily intervention, a constant renegotiation of an imperfect body’s shifting terms and capacities. My research examines my body as both a medical object and a social construct; exploring the liminal space between patient and person, body and self. Drawing from my intimate history with chronic pain and disability, I am interested in the tenuous nature of the disabled body within social and medical frameworks fixated on diagnosis and cure. Utilizing medical documentation, data, and personal journals from a recent recovery period, I intend to recontextualize these illness experiences through printmaking, performance, and photography. Through these explorations my work seeks to create space for the body in pain, lend agency and voice to imperfect form, and reclaim the medicalized body as a reflection of self.
I’ve spent most of my life in Toronto and Montreal, taking long breaks to live and work abroad. Urban centers have always been my home and my inspiration. My interests lie in the dynamic energy of the urban sphere. The people of cities, their relationships, their loves and lonelinesses have become the focus of my work. I have chosen to represent the lives lived in cities through representational, figurative narratives that capture individuals and groups, often in explicitly public contexts. My paintings are carefully collaged and constructed in order to connect my characters and their dramas to the viewer. My work records moments of connection, like a secret nod from a friend, an understanding, or a spark of emotional recognition shared by strangers. I use local and international conflicts to study how these moments exist for groups of people. Our fractured world, rife with discord, draws people together as much as it deepens divides. Police and protestor. Hoodlum and oligarch. It is through these dichotomous groups that society defines itself. In these struggles I find connection. Connection between subjects. Connection between myself and my work. Connection between viewer and painting. I aim to harness the full force of these conflicts and relationships as artistic subjects while I work towards my MFA at the University of Alberta. I am excited to explore this new chapter.
Holly de Moissac
My practice serves as a lens to dissect and process vulnerability in personal and significant bodies. I have always been fascinated by transformation and transition; the moment where an object, environment, or body shifts from one category of human understanding to another. Alive and dead, natural and manmade, organic and synthetic are all binaries that help societies process the surrounding world; however, within a wider scope, these classifications coexist, cycle, and weave together in surprising ways. My practice explores these philosophical transformations by creating alchemic hybrids that bind unexpected aspects of human and environmental experience together, exploring qualities of loss and imperfection that are often socially excavated from view. Within the rich print community at the U of A, I am excited to utilize the University’s collections, shift my work in new directions, and develop supportive relationships with enthusiastic peers.
After obtaining my BFA in Drawing from ACAD, my interest in narrative and storytelling led me to study English at MacEwan University, and obtain an MA in Design from the North Wales School of Art and Design. My current research explores narrative tropes and worldbuilding techniques sourced from folklore, mythology, and speculative fiction as a means of social critique. I am particularly drawn to themes of transformation, hybridity, and liminal spaces: the things Donna Haraway, in A Manifesto for Cyborgs, calls “[the] transgressed boundaries, potent fusions and dangerous possibilities...[one] might explore as part of needed political work”. Through the creation of monstrous, amalgam, and hybrid entities and spaces, I seek to destabilize hegemonic notions of borders and boundaries, wielding imaginative potential as a tool for social commentary. I look forward to working with dedicated peers and faculty as part of the University of Alberta's MFA program to further refine my artistic practice.
My practiced-based research in print media and animation focuses on navigating the uncertainties about female autonomy, family genetics, and dialogues with the self in relation to advancing reproductive technologies. Scientific developments in in vitro fertilization, embryo selection, and genetic editing –among other options– make the perennial questions concerning reproduction even more difficult to answer: should one have a child, and if so, how, and when?
As a young woman, experiences of close family members’ childbirths, raising children, working, being married, and going through menopause, contrast and inform my reality. Societal pressures to become a mother when you’re still “young enough” can influence and intimidate a woman, but technologies may extend the length of time to have a child. Choosing to use genetic engineering in conception has benefits — including the potential to prevent disease and prolong life expectancy — but also raises questions about what it means to be human and the ethical implications involved in altering biology.
Through researching modern fertility applications, along with historical representations of human tissue, disease and microscopic cells, I render images of the fleshy body and its sensations by emphasizing inherited bodily forms that are pronounced by time and life events and act as a reminder of our materiality and mortality. In this way, I explore the evolution of inherited genetics and fertility and play with tensions of unease and intrigue arising from changing biotechnological environments.
Where does our cultural understanding of a normal family dynamic and home life come from? In my current research I look at the clichéd ideas that form our concepts of normalcy and try to identify and in turn produce imagery that lends itself to those commonalities while focusing on ideas of estrangement, loneliness, and identity within domestic space. Both visually and conceptually, my art practice is informed by the work of Sally Mann, Rachel Whiteread, and Mary Pratt. While I am largely focused in photo-based printmaking processes, my practice can also be quite interdisciplinary as I look at the multiple through a more contemporary perspective that encompasses projection, textiles, and sculpture. Through my art practice and research, I’m interested in using images that exist within a liminal environment somewhere between nostalgia, and more dark and ambiguous emotions in order to draw on what is common within familial spaces and domestic environments. In doing so, I expand upon the feelings of opposition I have towards domestic space, and my personal history, as to foster more well-rounded narratives surrounding home.
My current research as an artist explores the abstraction of my experiences and memory through the production of sculptures that follow the Modernist lineage. I have obtained a BFA from the University of Alberta as well as a Journeyman’s ticket from N.A.I.T. I have an affinity for materials, particularly steel. I intend to explore the connections between industrial materials and the human body. These materials can be compressed, stretched and twisted in a very similar manner to the way human skin stretches over muscles and bones as the body moves through space. Both the pieces of repurposed industrial materials I use and the human figure have angles, planes, sharp corners and rounded edges. I try to create sculptures by combining these materials into a configuration that while static, has the same movement as the human body. As a graduate student at the University of Alberta, I am exited to continue to build on the foundations laid in my undergraduate degree under the direction of Peter Hide.
I’ve spent most of the young-adult life in Canada and trained in range of disciplines. Studying primarily two years in printmaking and art history, then obtaining a BFA from NSCAD University in 2017. My interdisciplinary art practice is not only generated by particular interest in linguistics, semiotics and human sciences; but also focus on material investigation and process. It is not accidental to re-think the value of language because developing the language ability for me happens all the time, which is better to utilize what I know about our physical and social experience to provide the understanding of countless other subjects. Meanwhile, inspired by such George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By (1980) that brings me ideas in exploring: metaphor can structure on understandings of our experiences of how we think and how we express our thoughts in language. Currently, working in printmaking and its displaying, particularly in coming along with experimental practice. I am passionate to take complex operations, to create multiple originals; as well as favour a cumulative approach to composition, combining diverse sources and techniques to arrive at contemporary forms and fresh narratives.
In my artwork, I am concerned foremost with the notion of 'the archive’, and the way in which society chooses what material is important to ‘official’ history, and what is discarded. Through processes of research, interpretation, and dissemination of materials, including historical print media, interior decor, and other ephemera, I create prints, publications, and site-responsive installation works tracing how identity is constructed and value assigned through collecting and archiving. A native of Minnesota, I received my BFA in Print Media and Painting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
My painting explores the environments at the outer edges of the urban landscape. It’s a continually shifting space where the development of human construction begins invading the wilderness. Concrete pathways are trailing off into overgrown fields and heaps of scrap-wood are piled next to dead thickets. At the same time, the wilderness can’t be held back. It makes a place for itself among the violence and upheaval. Rabbits graze in the vacant lots that have yet to be developed. Coyotes lurk at the edges of yards. There is a pervasive sense of violence and tension as the natural and unnatural spaces intermingle and shift. I focus on this subject matter as it highlights my concerns about urban expansion invading and overtaking wilderness environments. My paintings are influenced by nighttime photography, using the in-camera flash to illuminate the immediate surroundings, while letting objects in the periphery of the scene fade into darkness. There’s a sense of anxiety that develops as you see common objects obscured by darkness. Everyday objects become uncanny, and appear as looming threats when they linger at the edge of the light.
My work is informed by my experience working with people who have cognitive impairment and dementia. I am interested in how our brains store memories and how the passage of time can affect perceptions of the past. I find the fragility and plasticity of our brains fascinating from a scientific and philosophical perspective. I want to explore how we as a society create collective memories and pass on information to preserve the past.
Currently, I am working with oil paint and cold wax medium. Multiple layers of wax and oil paint are built up and then selectively scratched, eroded and dissolved, mimicking the natural process of erosion. This system of addition and subtraction creates a visual history, which shows through in the complex texture of the final piece. My process is a balance of spontaneity and control. Carving and printmaking tools are used, providing opportunity for interesting accidents to make their way into the painting. Usually I begin with an idea in mind, but am never certain where the painting will end up. Like a memory, the painting almost inevitably takes on a life of its own. I am excited to join the other MFA candidates at the University of Alberta as we learn from the faculty and each other!
My artwork reflects my strong inclination towards our Canadian environment. As an avid outdoors-woman, I use my own wildlife photographs for reference. The historical attachment I have to Northern Ontario has grown to become a major factor towards the development of my character. Whether my concept is environmental issues, building environmental awareness or building the re-connection between humankind and wildlife, our Canadian species have always played the biggest role within my art. My primary medium of choice is acrylic painting on wood board. While completing my HBFA, I also enjoyed experimenting in sculpture, which is why my latest works have evolved to include cast frames, enhancing each composition. Attending the University of Alberta’s Master of Fine Arts program will be an important step in my artistic career. I look forward to experimenting, learning new artist techniques, staying in touch with our Canadian art scene and experiencing an education that will diversify my direction.
I am a totally real, not fake, absolutely legit artist: a totally real, not fake, absolutely legit artist – I am in the world. I am, in the whole, made up by my surroundings. I will collect recordings of sound and movement. I may use my body to sculpt and explore new ideas in durational performance. I accumulate objects. I may leave Things behind. This temporary collection is my ritual: exploring the fluidity of dominance and subordination. I am considering how I emerge from a natural landscape. I am discussing the intimate friction as the materials press against and through me.
My practice asserts relationships between bodily engagements, process-based studio investigations, and performative acts of making. My methods inherently necessitate the powerful gestures of repetitive bodily motions and the manipulation and transformation of materials. Lacanian, Foucauldian, and Freudian theories of object, “the real”, compulsion/ repetition, and discipline/ power resonate with my interests to implicate my body in the collective production of meaning, using objects, materials, space, and form as sites of experimentation. I re-imagine the body’s public dimension as object and temperament as always relational, creating sensory immediacies and subjectifications of spatial extension. The site of bodies as object and space transgress the literal spatial realities of art, and inherently reconfigure the somatic limits and aesthetic parameters of said spatial realities. Investigating the embodiment of spatial relations underscore the temperament of bodies, space, and form that I elicit; space is not literal, but discursive. As Richard Serra states, “the significance of work is in its efforts, not in its intentions; that effort is a state of mind, an activity; an interaction with the world” (Richard Serra, Writings and Interviews, 15).
Alex R.M. Thompson
My body of print- and installation-based work interrogates the structures of power and processes of land use that shape the contemporary world we occupy. My prints are monochromatic fabrications, using monumental, institutional, and infrastructural architecture to create hypothetical cityscapes from existing buildings. Through the process of combining disparate places, I illustrate spaces that are simultaneously plausible, familiar, and forlorn. Recognizable structures emerge outside of their contexts, looming above empty streets that do not exist. My research at the U of A focuses on the methods, costs, and repercussions of resource extraction and residential development, questioning how we account for responsible stewardship in the systems that we function within. The inter-reliant nature of urban areas and the compression of distance as technology connects cities underpin my methods of creative generation, leading to reflections on architecture that embrace its timeliness/timelessness.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning and listen to the harsh noises from cars and machines. I wonder if this is what life is truly about. When I walk or drive I see vehicles passing by swiftly, people trapped inside these iron boxes, including myself. As an artist, I observe the world and seek connections among the things in our lives. I notice how our contemporary society seems to push us away from each other slowly, causing us countless problems with the development of technology and many other things. I have studied traditional art in China and learned to create many more objects in different styles and methods through my BFA program at the University of Regina. In my MFA program, I am interested in taking this basic competency and apply it toward contemporary issues and styles. It seems that the quality of human life is going backwards as technology develops. Many unnecessary problems are created by science and social media. The relations and conflicts between humanity and contemporary society will be a significant theme for me to present in my paintings.