As promised, this week’s post is a taste of the some of the art we experienced in the Atlantic Provinces a couple of weeks ago. Three exhibits in particular stood out, making for a wonderful combination of textiles and drawing.
I could almost pretend they knew I was coming.
I think this public sculpture is worth sharing.
Migration Pathway #2 ©Giorgia Volpe Suspended over the St. Lawrence River near the Quebec Public Market, “th(is) piece ties together past and present in notion of migration, a seminal influence shaping our society and evolving territory. Migration Pathway #2 shows the vulnerability and endurance inherent in human and animal migratory and nomadic lives. Woven canoes rise in the air approaching the banks of the St. Lawrence in a surprising parade-like movement. The work pays tribute to Quebec folk traditions, the beliefs of early sailors, and First Nations traditional knowledge, and occupies a traditional site of meeting and dialogue for all these communities.”
The Museum of Civilization in Quebec City was a very happy discovery. With exhibits involving history, science, art and culture, there was way more than we could absorb in one visit. However, two concurrent shows stood out.
The first, an extensive retrospective on the work of Hergé, the Belgian cartoonist and creator of The Adventures of Tintin. It’s a show that would be appealing to any age, and certainly inspiring to young drawers.
It was fascinating to study the extensive display of his working drawings up close, then to follow his progression through gouache color proofs, and onto final finished prints. You can’t help but admire in his ability to capture and express so much through a judicious economy of line that is all one weight and lacks crosshatching, a style he pioneered that became known as “ligne claire” (clear line).
The following appeared on one of the museum labels: “Although comics have long been regarded as a minor art, figures like Hergé have propelled them to unrivaled artistic heights. Certain lead pencil sketches of Captain Haddock, Tintin, or Professor Calculus, for instance, are exercises in style with enough complexity, astute turbulence, and accuracy of tone to rival works by such masters as Dürer, Holbein, da Vinci, Ingres and others.”
Next, in a neighboring gallery, Carole Simard-Laflamme’s installation Dress of Nations is a work at once ethereal and imposing. Created to evoke every stage of life, from birth to death, this work is made of 6,000 “seed dresses” — textile miniatures made from pieces of recovered garments, threaded together and suspended from the ceiling in rows, composing the bodies of two large dress forms.
Dress of Nations, ©Carole Simard-Laflamme Statement: “Our garments tell our stories. They reveal our identities and present the symbols of our cultures. With this work, I wish to underscore our differences and our uniqueness…”
Over 400 people from different cultures sent the artist a piece of clothing along with a testimonial. The garments were cut, mixed, reassembled, and stitched together on wires, each seed-dress bearing a golden stamp. The overall effect was quite moving.
Finally, it was pure luck that Zachari Logan’s exhibit Topiary opened at the Anna Leonowens Gallery of the Nova Scotia School of Art and Design the day before we arrived in Halifax. What a great bonus that we were able to attend his lunchtime talk, a part of their visiting artist series.
Green Man, Natural Drag series ©2012 Zachari Logan, pastel on paper, 50 x 100 inches.
Logan’s detailed pastel and pencil drawings explore the intersection between “masculinity, identity, memory, and place”. He discussed in detail the parallels between his subject matter and the way he sees himself within society as a queer man.
Zachari Logan, blue pencil on mylar
His highly skilled draughtsmanship is mind-blowing, but the depth and intelligence in the metaphors he constructs based across a spectrum of art history, interlaced with an unflinching confrontation of some of the more poignant challenges many face within our world today, completely swept me away. I am still thinking about his work due to his seamless pairing of concept with execution.
Although this exhibition had none on display, ceramics are another component of Logan’s overall practice and the statements he makes through his art. Obviously I was intrigued by his marriage of the two disciplines in light of my own quest to coherently bring my drawing and textile work together.
Visit this page on his website to see more of his art and for a greater understanding of the ideas behind these and other works in his various series.
Datura, from Eunich Tapestries series ©2013 Zachari Logan, pastel on paper, 10 x 5 feet I was quite moved by Logan’s discussion of his portrayal of “ditches” and the plants that appear there. Having grown up in Saskatchewan, ditches were a familiar part of the landscape for him, filled with plants that are scorned as weeds. But he asked us to consider the term “weed” and how classifying certain plants as undesirable with that epithet can be equated with the words we use to label people who, for whatever reason, society rejects as well.
Our trips north never disappoint. Because art seems to be such a valued and public part of Canadian life, I’ve been seeking information about their dedication to investing in culture as a nation. This 2016 article from the Washington Post is quite an eye-opener. Considering the ever-precarious state of the arts in the US, I’m tempted to say: read it and weep.