Spring 2013

Trails

Fred Brown art piece Welcome to the Cult Welcome to the Cult by Fred Brown (Canadian, b. 1965), 1993, ink on paper (woodcut)

When a night at the Power Plant becomes a work of art.

For maximum impact, Welcome to the Cult by Fred Brown, ’93 MVA, requires from the viewer equal parts imagination, nostalgia, raw energy and irreverence.

This piece, somewhat reminiscent of an image from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, started off as a coat draped across a pool table at the Power Plant, a campus bar at the time. “It kind of evolved from there,” says the artist, who is now based in British Columbia.

The colourful triptych — measuring 1.2 metres by 2.4 metres — is part of the U of A Museums exhibit Size Matters: Big Prints from around the World. The exhibit has given Brown the opportunity to be a little nostalgic about his time on campus. Welcome to the Cult was a piece in his final-year show.

“The piece represents some of the times I had at the U of A,” he says. “It was a glorious time, a kind of a club or cult, I guess, and I was printing as much as I could to maximize time in the studio.”

Brown’s medium is woodcuts, a three-part process of painting, cutting and printing. It’s a highly physical technique that Brown relishes. “With these pieces I was influenced by the physicality of the medium and my own body.”

Brown explains that the painting, on boards, is abstract expressionism — not knowing where he is going and then letting the painting talk to him during the process. The colours can come to him at any time in the process and, in this piece, the choices evolved as the triptych emerged from the original pool table idea.

He chose the title provocatively to acknowledge the sense of community that develops in the campus fine arts studio or on campus as a whole. “Welcome to the cult, welcome to the club — it was my way of saying we had all shared something together,” says Brown.

He continues to work as an artist, spending as much time as he can working out of a studio at North Vancouver-based Capilano University.

The exhibit featuring Brown’s work runs at Edmonton’s Enterprise Square from April 4 to June 29. For more information, visit museums.ualberta.ca/Exhibitions.

Story by Wanda Vivequin