June 8- August 3, 2019 | Refuge
curated by Quinn Venable
Located just outside the gallery – stop by any time of the day
The mind is a timeless space where reality and fantasy intertwine. In the mind, the material world becomes distorted by ego, memory and emotion. Its chaotic and overwhelming tendencies often force us to seek refuge within the physical world. While the body can give us temporary relief from the mind, it lives within a space where time is continuously fleeting. Refuge is a project composed of works by contemporary artists culled from the Union Gallery archive of publications. The artists presented are divided into two sections. The first are those who use their works to access a space beyond the physical world. Here the mind roams freely playing with our anxieties, dreams and experiences. The second section is composed of artists seeking refuge within the body, revealing the challenges of accepting our internal clocks.
(front side) This selection of artists employ various techniques to manipulate daily objects we encounter from our everyday lives into subject matter that we no longer recognize. While we may identify certain elements of each work, we fail to place them in the appropriate context. Works by artists Medrie MacPhee and Etienne Zack play with memory, imagination and science by creating mutations of both the natural and industrial world. Their works aim to confuse the mind and make the viewer uncomfortable through the distortion of familiar objects. Luanne Martineau expands on these ideas by situating items from the material world into a space of psychological chaos. Sophie Jodoin takes aspects of human life associated with stability and comfort and transforms them to evoke the opposite emotion. In De Peine et De Mis’re, a scene of a mother and children is used to inspect the psychological traumas that can occur during childhood, and how these experiences continue to haunt people in their lives. And in the piece, Charred, Jodoin turns the perceived normalcy of the suburban home into a place of confinement and suffocation.
(back side) This selection is composed of artists seeking stillness within the body and physical world. While the body can provide temporary shelter from the mind, it comes with its own limitations. Artists Susan Dobson and Eldon Garnet use black and white images to map out where the mind stops and where the body begins. The light spaces of their works are to be seen as extensions of the material world while the dark spaces reveal the endless void of the mind. Both John Scott and Sophie Jodoin continue this color-blind approach in order to escape the passage of time. In Jodoin’s series of portraiture titled Drawing Shadows: Portraits of my Mother she seeks to suspend the physical aging of her mother, while Scott’s Untitled is a quick gestural drawing that reflects a personal attempt to outrun his own death. Caroline Seck Langill supports these ideas by using language as a reminder of the body’s inevitable passing while Shelly Penfold instigates the return to colour by embracing the body and surrendering to the present moment. Both Naomi London and Jamelie Hassan bring lightness to a harsh reality by displaying their personal search for peace. London bases her work on a comfort that brings joy and relaxation to the body while photographs by Jamelie document his journey through China in pursuit of spiritual enlightenment.
Quinn Venable is a third-year undergraduate student at Queens University majoring in art history and minoring in religious studies. Her interests lie in abstract expressionism, surrealism, impressionism and cubism as well as eastern religious traditions and how these subjects can be used to understand and explore the complexity of the mind. She is the current summer intern at the Union Gallery and is excited to become more involved with its operations.