Brainstorm and Under Construction offer eye-catching art

York University’s Department of Visual Arts serves up a visual feast this month with Brainstorm, a spectacular open house featuring more than 350 works in all media by more than 200 up-and-coming undergraduate students, and Under Construction, a group exhibition showcasing work by graduate students in the Visual Arts Master of Fine Arts program.

Left: Water Baby – 9′ x 12" acrylic on canvas 2008 by Stephanie Reynolds, a graduate student in the Visual Arts program

Brainstorm, taking place Wednesday, March 12 from 3 to 7pm, highlights the work of rising young artists poised to make their mark on the professional art scene in the next few years. The pieces on display were chosen by a selection committee in each studio area: drawing, painting, print media, photography, sculpture and time-based art.

Right: Untitled 2 from the series Modern Homes – 48" x 74" Lambda print 2008 by Thomas Blanchard, a graduate student in the Visual Arts Program

"The work of these young artists is bold, interdisciplinary and critically engaged with our contemporary world," said Visual Arts Department Chair, painter and curator Janet Jones.

Brainstorm will transform the entire Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts at York into one giant art gallery, with works on view on all four floors throughout the building. Music students and a DJ will provide live entertainment. Artists will be on hand to welcome and tour visitors through the show.

Under Construction runs March 10-14 in the Gales Gallery, the visual arts department’s outstanding new student-run exhibition facility in York’s Accolade West Building. The opening reception will be held Wednesday, March 12, from 5:30 to 7pm.

Left: Untitled – 30"x30" C-print 2008 by York visual arts graduate student Melissa General

The aptly-named show offers a selection of works by 11 artists pursuing advanced studies at York. The exhibition was curated by Stuart Reid (BFA ’86), director/curator of the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery in Owen Sound and an alumnus of York’s Visual Arts Program. Artists represented in the show are Laura Barron, Thomas Blanchard, Melissa General, Myung-Sun Kim, Melanie Lowe, Asma Mahmood, Kate McQuillen, Lisa Neighbour, Stephanie Reynolds, Kristi Ropeleski and Jennie Suddick.

While Under Construction encompasses a diversity of media and conceptual approaches, the works in the exhibition also reflect some shared sensitivities and common fields of investigation. Reid notes that there is a strong predilection towards the domestic environment as subject matter and as a realm of intrigue.

Right: You Saw Me? – digital media installation 2008 (from Facebook status news roll) by Melanie Lowe, a York visual arts graduate student

"The artists find eloquent ways to evoke the domestic, drawing upon new-found comfort levels with technologies and an understanding of how those tools can construct identity," said Reid. "The seemingly benign and reassuring materials, surfaces, objects and spaces found in the home are shown to hold strong narrative powers, both personal and universal. Several works focus on the phenomena found in the everyday: moments when circumstances converge to allow a glimpse of the perfect symmetry of a shared moment across time."

The artists, Reid and exhibition coordinator Yvonne Singer, director of York’s Graduate Program in Visual Arts, will be on hand to introduce the show at the opening reception on March 12. 

Left: from White Noise – 84" x 54" oil on canvas, 2008 by  York visual arts graduate student Kristi Ropeleski 

Brainstorm and Under Construction are part of the third annual York Fine Arts Festival, running March 11-31 and celebrating the resident talent in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University. Visit the Fine Arts Festival Web site for the full schedule of events.

Other visual arts contributions to the festival include undergraduate group exhibitions in Drawing (March 10-14), Time-based Art (March 17-20) and Print Media (March 24-28). The York/Sheridan Joint Program in Design joins the festival with Field (March 17-21), an exhibit of applied communication design. Into the Woods (March 17-20), York University MFA student Jennie Suddick’s solo show critiquing notions of national identity, is presented as a curatorial project by art history graduate students. And Windows on Fine Arts Cultural Studies (March 26) offers interdisciplinary, interactive and new media presentations.