A technique used in making blueprints has won a University of Manitoba fine arts student a place in a national art show.
Gabriel Roberts won the regional prize in the 18th annual BMO 1st Art! Competition for undergraduate art students, for his piece, A Closet Painted Blue.
The Riverview resident’s work will be showcased in a virtual exhibition hosted by the Art Museum at the University of Toronto until Oct. 16 at artmuseum.utoronto.ca, along with works by a dozen other Canadian students.
His winning work is a mixed-media installation featuring cyanotypes on paper, linen, denim and cushions.
The annual competition invites deans and instructors from 110 undergraduate art programs across Canada to nominate three students from each of their studio specialties to submit a recent work. Roberts said he was honoured to be chosen by his instructors.
"Last fall, I was trying to think of a piece for my final exhibition in my honours year," Roberts said. "I’m interested in cyanotypes, which is an alternative process for photographs, that was originally used when making architectural blueprints. Essentially, when doing this, you end up with a blue and white print, instead of a black and white print."
The process doesn’t require a dark room. Instead, Roberts would make a digital negative, and then expose the image on a large ultraviolet lightbox or outdoors using sunlight.
"It normally takes 24 hours on the light table for the image to form," he said.
A Closet Painted Blue is described as "a contemplative exploration into the artist’s own sexuality within the constraints of a closeted relationship."
"Blue is a colour that many people attach to sadness," he said, adding he first encountered art that shows LGBTQ images while on a school trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. "I saw an exhibit by Joe Sinnesse, who is an LGBTQ artist. For the first time, I could see myself represented in art. I want to pass on the message that it’s okay to see yourself in art."
He received $7,500 from the competition, which he is pondering how to spend to further his art.
"I might get a better lightbox, or a camera," he said.
The national winner in the competition is University of the Arts (Alberta) student Simone Elizabeth Saunders, for It Matters.
This piece is described as, "A hand-tufted textile portrait of a Black civilian in western society during the COVID-19 pandemic. This colourful patchwork focuses on the quality and importance of Black life (matters) in a time where the pandemic has eradicated social normativity, further isolating marginalized communities and resulting in amplified racial biases toward Black and Brown people."
For more on the competition, see 1stArt.bmo.com
For more on Gabriel Roberts’ work, see www.gabrielroberts.ca
The Sou'wester community journalist
Susie Strachan is the community journalist for The Sou'wester. Susie got her first paying job as a journalist in the late '80s on the Free Press Weeklies, then followed that with 20 years as a reporter, photographer and specialty editor at the Winnipeg Free Press. She then spent 10 years working for WAVE magazine with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, before returning to her roots as the reporter/photographer for The Sou’wester. A little bit about Susie: She learns a lot from the people she interviews; She believes that community weeklies provide an invaluable record of community events, places and people; Thanks to all the interviews she's done, she's never met a hobby she won’t try, at least once. She's been thrown out of an airplane while strapped to an instructor, learned to skijor and do it moderately well, and tangled with all sorts of fibre arts. Do not get her started on tie-dyed fingers, lopsided clay pots, the explosion in the basement while brewing ginger beer and other epic failures. Call her at 204-697-7150 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org