Canadian sculptor James Carl is the L.L. Odette Artist-in-Residence at York

Noted Canadian sculptor James Carl is currently visiting York’s Visual Arts Department as the 2006 L.L. Odette Artist-in-Residence. As part of his 10-day residency, he will give a free public lecture about his work on May 25.

During his stay, Carl is working with a group of upper-level visual arts students enrolled in an intensive hands-on sculpture course. He is advising them on their projects and overseeing their work, while sharing insights into his own artistic practice and philosophy.


At the same time, Carl is working on a new project of his own: a series of black serpentine marble carvings that resemble contemporary technological devices, such as stereo sub-woofers and amplifiers. The students are assisting him on his project, roughing out the marble, carving and polishing.


“James Carl’s project is encouraging the students to examine serial production as a method of sculptural process,” said York visual arts Professor Brandon Vickerd, coordinator of the residency. “Students are asked to consider the sculptural object as a collection of forms as opposed to a monolithic structure. Working in wood or stone, they’re challenged to formulate their own visual ideas as represented through reproductive labour.”


Carl has a longstanding interest in how sculpture can transform commonplace, functional objects and shared social values into durable material form. Engaging both traditional and contemporary artistic methods and materials, he challenges the viewer to look with a fresh eye at the everyday artifacts of consumer culture.


James Carl’s piece Take Outs


One of Carl’s recent exhibitions was an installation featuring detailed reproductions of household appliances: refrigerators, stoves, radios, record players, toasters, a television, a washer and dryer. Constructed of cardboard in real-life scale, this assembly line of consumer goods took on a powerful, iconic presence, reflecting the value placed on dehumanized work in an age of mass production.


Carl has shown his work in solo and group exhibitions for the past 15 years across Canada and in Austria, China, Germany and the United States. His work is found in many public collections, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada’s Art Metropole Archive and the Canada Council Art Bank, as well as private collections in Canada and abroad.


James Carl’s public talk on Thursday takes place at 11am in Room 214, Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

James Carl’s deck

Carl’s residency is the centerpiece of York’s month-long sculpture course. Eight other Toronto-based artists, including several Visual Arts Department alumni, are also dropping in to talk informally with students during the course. They are: Lyla Rye (BFA ’89), John Dixon, Zeke Moores, Carl Tacon (BFA ’88, MFA ’96), Spring Hurlbut, Anitra Hamilton, Christine Swintak and Roch Smith (MFA ’03).