Two UAlberta Augustana professors to take over North Campus art gallery

Through the month of October, Augustana visual arts professors Keith Harder and Julian Forrest's exhibit Biomythography will run in the Fine Arts Building gallery.

Tia Lalani - 04 October 2018

The University of Alberta Augustana Campus' visual arts department is small but mighty. This Thursday, the entirety of the FAB Gallery at the University of Alberta's North Campus will feature the work of half of that department-two faculty members: Keith Harder and Julian Forrest.

The exhibit, titled Biomythography, will include six or seven of Forrest's paintings from "False Dilemma" on the first floor-two of which have never been shown before-and will include a few of Harder's large-scale "Ill Winds" paintings, as well as a few smaller pieces from his connected series "Anamnesis". For them, the opportunity is not only in showing their work but also in allowing those on North campus to learn a bit more about Augustana.

"We don't get to see our colleagues on North campus every day or necessarily participate in their curriculum," said Forrest. "This show will be a great way to highlight what we're doing here as a department."

While Forrest and Harder have worked together closely for thirteen years, they have never shown together before now.

"We teach side-by-side, especially in the three-week semester," Forrest explained, noting that they often bring their classes into each other's rooms and participate in field trips together. "Our teaching relationship has been great and instrumental, but that other part of our lives has never intermingled. Now it will."

Torschlusspanik (or, The Death of Kurtz); oil on canvas; 72 x 120 inches; 2018. Photo courtesy of Julian Forrest.

ILL Winds: West; 2016; 92″ x 116″; Acrylic on Canvas. Photo courtesy of Keith Harder.

Both largely figurative painters that deal with relatively representational work, Harder admits that the fact that they both work in paint makes them "kind of old-fashioned". However, they each work to bring something new to the conversation by dealing with imagery.

Harder's "Ill Winds" series includes four large paintings that depict storm clouds and play with the idea behind two popular sayings: "It's an Ill wind that blows nobody any good," and "In every cloud, there's a silver lining." He will also show select pieces from "Anamnesis"-the effort of trying to remember things that have been forgotten-which includes close-ups of aircrafts that have suffered abuse and dereliction over time.

While Harder interacts with the idea of sky, flight, and the metaphors and meanings they apply to the human condition, Forrest's pieces serve as comments on masculinity and migration, and draw on popular culture-in this case, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. His pieces include figures-mostly men-in and not in costume that are meant to be allegorical and narrative. Harder posits Forrest's work as poetic, while he is more direct.

The two artists look forward to seeing how the audience will interact with these differences and similarities on the canvas.

"In both cases, you're going to see something that you recognize," Forrest said.

As for their working relationship, the pair is in-line with each other.

"We have very similar attitudes to art education, the art world, and what's important," Harder explained.

"We're also two people that never let the research side of our work dip because we're both engaged as artists," Forrest described. "It's not an effort for us to keep our art going because for us, being artists has always driven everything that we do. This opportunity is a good celebration of that."

Harder had similar sentiments, referencing the Augustana Visual Art Department more generally.

"We have a very collegial department, and it's a real privilege to work in an academic environment and to feel the support of your colleagues. I'm looking forward to the exhibit because it's nice to be able to do something with someone who you respect, admire, and whose work you appreciate."

Biomythography will show at the FAB Gallery from October 2 to 27, with the official opening reception taking place on Thursday, October 4 at 7 pm.