How to View The Show at Emily Carr

With over 300 Design, Media, and Visual Arts graduates this year, Emily Carr University of Art and Design’s grad exhibition offers something for everyone. I walked through the rooms for 2 hours on Monday but was disappointed with the first few rooms thinking that after 4 years of study shouldn’t there be some art that displays a little more skill and thought? But then I started finding a few artworks that made me laugh, or appreciate their technique, or think about their message.

Parcel #1357 by Shannon McKirgan

Parcel #1357 by Shannon McKirgan

There will be as many opinions about an art show as there are people who walk through it. Art is personal. What you like another person may hate. Some people like posters of puppies in their living room. Others would faint at that idea and thus spend hours at auctions trying to find the right Miro print to match their decor. I forget which artist said it, perhaps it was Christian Boltanski when he had a show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, but I remember this idea and use it whenever I view art: the artist said “I don’t care whether they love my art or hate my art, just as long as they have some kind of reaction. If they feel nothing then my art has failed.”

The next step would be to ask yourself why you love it, or hate it, or are indifferent to it. Art is a form of communication. So what is it saying to you? Sometimes the answer doesn’t come right away. I like Shannon McKirgan’s “Parcel #1357”, but I still am not sure why. It’s not a style that I normally pick out. The subject is a little depressing – a lone box of a building. For now I think it’s just the quality of her brushstrokes and the positive versus negative space, as well as the framing presentation.

Cachalot and Gray by Fiona Hawkes

Cachalot and Gray by Fiona Hawkes

With the whale close ups in charcoal by Fiona Hawkes I immediately knew I liked them because I appreciate the skill in her realistic drawings. I draw realistically, and thus whenever I see other artworks in this style I am drawn (ha!) to them.

Throwing by Nolan Drew

Throwing by Nolan Drew

Then there was the mini installation “Throwing” by Nolan Drew. It immediately put a smile to my face because as much as I love working on a wheel, it’s not easy to make a bowl or vase or anything round, and Nolan’s piece reminded me of that frustration. There have been times when it collapses, or flies off. I still remember the expression of surprise on one of my student’s faces when she had her clay go whizzing off the wheel and splat onto the classroom wall.

You have this weekend to catch “The Show”, which ends May 19th. There is also an online catalogue at ECUAD’s website.  Hope you find something you love or hate.

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3 Comments on “How to View The Show at Emily Carr”

  1. Vaclav Says:

    I like Shannon McKirgan’s “Parcel #1357″ too, and I would like to give my humble reason.

    In the background of the painting is a beautiful landscape, it could be the land of the Canadian or American West, very much like the land east of the Cascades in Tiana’s painting “Light through the Clouds”. People buy parcels on such land, most often for recreation.
    In the foreground of the painting is a building which I think the artist purposely created so that it does not harmonize with the landscape in the background.

    Some people camp on their parcels using a tent, some build tiny cabins, but most often people bring rather unattractive camping trailers and leave them there. Others build “city-like” houses there, the looks of which are an insult to the surrounding landscape. They put a fence and gate posts in place, and soon their parcel looks as if transported from a city.

    I think by showing a city style building in otherwise undisturbed land, the artist might have intended to express her disagreement with people bringing features of a city into nature. Features that forever destroy the beauty and uniqueness of the landscape.

  2. tianakaczor Says:

    Interesting interpretation Vaclav. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I looked on the internet to see if I could contact the artist, but I haven’t been able to find any links to her. It would be nice to hear her story.
    Is it really undisturbed land in the background? I thought I saw faint images of other houses, as if this were a new subdivision and this plot of land handn’t had it’s house build yet. The shack is perhaps a little portable building for the workers or the project manager.

  3. Vaclav Says:

    Hi Tiana, yes, there appear to be buildings in the background. After looking more closely, there may even be street lamps. Thank you for attempting to reach the artist, as you say, it would be interesting to hear her story.

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