November 20, 2018

Winnipeg
-11° C, Overcast

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Waiting around to die

Artist imagines pleasant surroundings for her father's eventual death

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/12/2013 (1811 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The line between "adult" and "child" gets hazy when we confront the prospect of losing a parent. Overturning the familiar roles of caretaker and decision-maker is a destabilizing experience for any grown-up, and the anticipation of loss can trigger a flood of childlike anxieties, desires and ways of thinking.

At some point, artist Sherry Walchuk's dad convinced himself that he was going to die the same way his own father had -- aged 60, of a heart attack, at Kmart.

At the time, it seemed like a distinct possibility, and in response Walchuk set about proposing preferable (if not exactly plausible) scenarios for his eventual death. Taking the form of purposefully naive drawings and rickety-looking cardboard sculptures, those proposals make up For My Dad, her current exhibition at the U of M faculty of architecture's ARCH 2 Gallery.

Drawing inspiration from her childhood surroundings in Mission, B.C., as well as her own far-reaching imagination, Walchuk envisions an array of fantastical spaces and impossible machines designed to ease the transition into death. She balances the morbid subtext of her work with a whimsical sensibility and an incongruously cheery outlook which, while occasionally unnerving, lends the art much of its weird charm and pathos.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/12/2013 (1811 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The line between "adult" and "child" gets hazy when we confront the prospect of losing a parent. Overturning the familiar roles of caretaker and decision-maker is a destabilizing experience for any grown-up, and the anticipation of loss can trigger a flood of childlike anxieties, desires and ways of thinking.

At some point, artist Sherry Walchuk's dad convinced himself that he was going to die the same way his own father had — aged 60, of a heart attack, at Kmart.

At the time, it seemed like a distinct possibility, and in response Walchuk set about proposing preferable (if not exactly plausible) scenarios for his eventual death. Taking the form of purposefully naive drawings and rickety-looking cardboard sculptures, those proposals make up For My Dad, her current exhibition at the U of M faculty of architecture's ARCH 2 Gallery.

Drawing inspiration from her childhood surroundings in Mission, B.C., as well as her own far-reaching imagination, Walchuk envisions an array of fantastical spaces and impossible machines designed to ease the transition into death. She balances the morbid subtext of her work with a whimsical sensibility and an incongruously cheery outlook which, while occasionally unnerving, lends the art much of its weird charm and pathos.

Displayed in plastic sheet protectors, coloured-pencil drawings on copy paper occupy vitrines outside the entrance, while others line the walls of the main gallery. Crudely proportioned but rendered neatly, many of the drawings repurpose forms borrowed from suburban architecture, the natural landscape, hospitals and nursing homes, while others depict specific events in Walchuk's life.

Amid wrenching scenes of the family gathered around dying pets and rough schematic drawings of garages and trailers, we find concept sketches for impossible mobile-care units. Walchuk draws self-contained "hospital boxes," perhaps for ailing loved ones eager to escape the nursing home, and tiny private houses for those who do wind up there.

There are portable sanctuaries — wheeled swimming pools, personal waterfalls and mountain ranges — and other carts and contraptions whose functions are unclear.

One device from the drawings, a triangular "tanning booth made from the sun's rays" is modelled at scale in floppy, yellow-painted cardboard just outside the gallery. Inside, a raised platform bearing a near-life-size recreation of her father's lot at a B.C. trailer park dominates the space.

A roughly hand-drawn map identifies the various sculptures — papier-m¢ché pets and doghouses, a "Fridge Tomb" — that surround the exhibition's centrepiece, an abstracted RV cobbled together from cardboard boxes and wooden shipping pallets reminiscent of a child's playhouse. Beneath a ring of cardboard patio lanterns that cast cardboard haloes of light, viewers enter through a simple hinged flap. Inside is a refuge of almost otherworldly calm.

Cardboard dampens outside noises and muffles any echoes, while the unadorned walls and ceilings are painted a vivid blue-green that recalls tropical ocean water or ancient Egyptian ceramics. Resting in one of the dimly-lit alcoves, it does seem like a lovely place to die. Certainly better than Kmart.

While some viewers might be put off by For My Dad's absurdist sensibility and deceptively "artless" esthetics, its strength lies in Walchuk's ability to fully inhabit the magical (and occasionally deranged) mindset of a frightened child. Variously emphatic, pathetic, incomprehensible and odd, Walchuk's models and sketches find humour and comfort in situations of powerlessness, creating moving (and mobile) expressions of wishful thinking, love, and care.

 

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

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us