January 23, 2020

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In their own right

Survivance III a chance for mentees to thrive

Wailing Wall by Andrea Roberts.

Wailing Wall by Andrea Roberts.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/10/2015 (1561 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Three years ago last week, the first Survivability exhibition opened at the Main Street offices of Mentoring Artists for Women's Art. Showcasing work by participants in the 2011-12 Foundation Mentorship Program, "the bedrock of MAWA's activities," it examined the balances that artists (and all of us) need to negotiate: between work and life, mind and body, technology and nature, intellect and instinct.

In 2014, the group met again in Portage la Prairie for Survivability II, which found its members not just "surviving" but thriving. In the intervening years, the one-time mentees have earned degrees and accolades, staged exhibitions locally and internationally, and, most importantly, continued to develop and grow as artists.

Survivance III, which closes next week at the Centre culturel franco-manitobain, is both a welcome second chance to catch up and a rewarding exhibition in its own right. With so many artists (10 original mentees plus mentors Diane Whitehouse, Anne Fallis and Diana Thorneycroft) each pursuing her own ends, the connections that emerge are serendipitous but all the more satisfying for it.

Kenton-based Mary Lowe's sensitively painted and sculpted livestock portraits offer whimsical yet stoic foils to Thorneycroft's morbid, mutant horse figurines, while Yvette Cenerini's slick digital-photo montages explore complementary themes of animal rights and exploitation, employing a finely balanced mix of poignancy, humour and reproach.

Yvette Cenerini's photo montages explore animal rights.

Yvette Cenerini's photo montages explore animal rights.

The metallic blues of Cenerini's Cessation, which pictures forlorn-looking endangered animals perched on heavenly white clouds, ease into the darker hues of Willow Rector's own hyper-saturated "skyscapes." The photographs signal a new direction for Rector, whose embroidered fox pelt in the first Survivability spawned a solo show last year at Gallery 1C03. Dayna Danger continues her photographic explorations of identity (in this case examining the complex relationship between sisters) in a pair of stylized studio portraits.

Erin Josephson-Laidlaw pieces together natural and architectural forms in a contemplative series of prints. Featured on the show invite, her Cactus ensconced in a crystalline, geodesic terrarium of fine lines fittingly matches sensitivity with thorny perseverance. Known for her botanical drawings, Chantal Dupas trades watercolour for gestural oils in a striking untitled canvas, scattered floral shards enveloped in swaths of sweeping black.

Cameron Forbes's Water Paintings reflect on overlapping natural and domestic spheres. Small studies — lakeside views and laundry-room scenes, watery abstractions, and bathtub vistas — accumulate, propped up pantry-style on shallow wooden shelves while others are pinned directly to the wall.

Combining graphic sensibilities and a light touch, Carberry resident Cheryl Orr-Hood's luminous pressure prints alight on memories of barn swallows. Collage-like compositions of haloed shapes loosely settle into a tactile, contemplative series of rustic indoor scenes. Touch is likewise of the essence for Patricia Eschuk, who imbues painterly gestures with ideas of comfort and healing that carry through an abstract canvas (Dissonance), a swirling blanket of felted wool roving (Cocooned) and a sweet, impressionistic monograph print (The Hug).

A standout in more ways than one, Wailing Wall by Andrea Roberts is Survivance's biggest, brashest and most impenetrable entry. The eye-searing array of corrugated plastic signs apes the look of strip-mall signage and adopts the bonkers grammar of email spam. The piece scrambles the senses and stokes excitement for Robert's upcoming show at Aceartinc.

That show, The Yolk of Menial Light, opens Oct. 23, but I doubt we'll have to wait long to see more from many of these artists. That speaks not just to the "survivability" and talent of this particular group of mentees, but of the strength and vitality of a wider community that groups such as MAWA work to support.

 

Steven Leyden Cochrane is a Winnipeg-based artist, writer, and educator.

The Hug by Patricia Eschuk.

The Hug by Patricia Eschuk.

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