Visual artists demonstrate mastery over their craft in thesis exhibits

This spring, thesis exhibitions by MFA students in York’s Department of Visual Arts are all over the map, both literally and figuratively, in the best possible ways. Eleven different shows, spanning a wide range of media and conceptual approaches, are featured in galleries downtown and on campus throughout April and May.

“Like graduate students in every Faculty, these artists are conducting leading-edge research,” said Professor Yvonne Singer, director of York’s Graduate Program in Visual Arts. “Their scholarship is practice-based in the studio. This highly original research is produced in the form of artworks and shared in these shows.”

Jay Wilson’s Safe When Small features sculptural and image-based works constructed from materials such as toothpicks, broken plates and found Jurassic Park collector cards. The exhibition’s complexity and the lack of hierarchy provoke questions as opposed to declaring answers, definitive statements or central themes. The show is on view to April 12 at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects, 1086 Queen St. West, Toronto. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from 12 to 5pm.

Left: A sculpture from Jay Wilson’s Safe When Small exhibit

Stéphanie Chabot’s Time of No Reply features sculptures that deal with the drama of being human and the sadness of being aware of one’s own death. On another level, the exhibit also explores the ultimate nightmarish vision of capitalism, and the transformation of living creatures into commodities. The show runs to April 13 at AWOL Gallery, 76 Ossington Ave. in Toronto. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday from 12 to 6pm and Sunday from 1 to 5pm.

Kristi Ropeleski’s White Noise is an installation of large-scale figurative paintings investigating the underpinnings of the human figure and its context. Through colour, gesture and scale, the artist is repositioning the question: "Where do you end and I begin?" The show runs at Toronto’s Lennox Contemporary, 12 Ossington Ave., until April 20. Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday from 12 to 5pm.

Right: An image from Kristi Ropeleski’s White Noise

Paulette PhillipsHistory appears twice, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce features new work in sculpture, photography and video that documents residual emotion and presence and the poetically tragic aura that surrounds E-1027, a villa on the Côte d’Azur built by architect and designer Eileen Gray for her lover Jean Badovici in 1929. Diaz Contemporary, 100 Niagara St., Toronto, displays the show until to April 26. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 6pm.

Kiki AthanassiadisA Dream Home (Is Never Completely Finished) is an exhibition of prints and ephemeral constructions that explores images and experiences of emplacement and the movement and sheltering of the imagination. The show runs April 14 to 18 at York’s Gales Gallery in 105 Accolade West Building. Gallery hours are 10:30am to 4pm.

Left: An image from Kiki AthanassiadisA Dream Home (Is Never Completely Finished)

Joe Hambleton‘s I Grew Up in a Forest Glade is a video installation that creates a virtual recollection of three years of the artist’s childhood and his neighbourhood. The show will be on view in the Special Projects Gallery in the Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts at York from April 14 to 18. The gallery is open from 8:30am to 4:30pm.

Atom Deguire‘s Overtake the Document will address the threshold between the interior and exterior of the gallery space by means of a large, site-specific window installation in fluorescent vinyl. The work will heighten the street presence of the gallery, drawing attention to the location, its function, and its relationship with the surrounding neighbourhood. The show runs at Toronto’s Paul Petro Contemporary Art, 962 Queen St. West, from April 14 to 28. Gallery hours are by appointment but the window installation can be viewed at any time.

Right: An image from Atom Deguire’s exhibit

Lauren Nurse’s Disappear Here is a series of works around the idea of artificial nature. These works are executed in a variety of materials and spring from the gaps between human understanding of nature and nature itself. York University’s Glendon Gallery displays the show from April 19 to 30. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday from 12 to 3pm and Saturday from 1 to 4 pm.

Angela del Buono ‘s A New City is a photo-based exploration of identity through place. This documentary project is based on the artist’s subjective remembrance of Bramalea, the first postwar suburban planned community in Ontario. The show runs at York’s Gales Gallery in 105 Accolade West Building, from April 21 to 25. Gallery hours are 10:30am to 4pm.

Thomas Blanchard‘s Modern Homes is a photographic series developed from explorations into environmental and health problems surrounding contemporary house environments that often go unnoticed. Through awkward but poignant juxtapositions, the photographs provoke the viewer to consider some disturbing ideas about our environment. DeLeon White Gallery, 1139 College St.,Toronto, displays the show from May 1 to 31. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from 12 to 5pm.

Left: From Modern Homes by Thomas Blanchard

Niknaz Tavakolian’s Encounters of Ironic Spectatorship uses photography, interactive elements and motion picture film to create a space of suspended reality. It investigates the ideas of fluidity in gender and cultural identity. The show runs at Interaccess, 9 Ossington Ave., Toronto, from May 9 to 18. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 to 5pm.

Mike Hansen’s Fleeting is a sculpture and installation work exploring celebrity, fame and fandom. Drawing on his experience as a musician, the artist focuses on the concept of noise — not only in the aural sense, but also the visual noise of loud clothing and the cultural noise of celebrity images. The show runs at York’s Gales Gallery, 105 Accolade West Building, from April 28 to May 2. Gallery hours are 10:30am to 4pm.

Right: From the exhibit Fleeting, by York MFA student Mike Hansen

David McDougall’s thesis exhibit takes place at York’s Gales Gallery, 105 Accolade West Building, from May 5 to 10. The gallery is open from 10:30am to 4pm. 

Visit the Graduate Program in Visual Arts Web site for more information on the program.